- Alex Brandon/AP
NFL free agency officially begins on Thursday at 4 p.m. Eastern, and just one day before the floodgates open, rumors are swirling like mad.
Interestingly, and somewhat atypically, this year the position group that may see the most action is quarterback.
Between the dearth of QBs in the upcoming draft and the sheer number of teams in need of even just a competent option under center, a lot of quarterbacks could change teams – and get paid – in the coming days.
Here we look at the latest rumors regarding quarterbacks and try to take stock of the QB market more broadly.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers backup Mike Glennon has somehow emerged as the top quarterback option among those who are unrestricted free agents, which in some ways reflects just how desperate NFL franchises are for QB competency.
According to Yahoo’s Charles Robinson, Glennon, 27, could get $14 million to $15 million a year, and the Chicago Bears are currently the top suitor. Many have compared Glennon to Brock Osweiler, who makes something in the ballpark of $15 million in Houston, as the two lanky quarterbacks had been considered career backups but now may both be well-compensated – not to mention potentially underwhelming – starters.
According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Chicago is Glennon’s preferred destination, and the Bears are expected to make Glennon a priority. Should the Bears go out and get Glennon, it likely means they don’t have much long-term confidence in Matt Barkley, who played decently for the Bears last season.
If Tyrod Taylor remains on the Bills roster through the weekend, the team will owe him a $15.5 million bonus, and his $12 million salary for the 2017 season will be guaranteed fully. While his cap hit next season would be a less jarring $15.9 million, $27.5 million is a lot of money for a quarterback who struggled at times in 2016.
Unsurprisingly, then, WGRZ in Buffalo is reporting that the Bills could be “leaning toward” cutting Taylor. The question becomes whether the Bills would try to re-sign him at a cheaper price or if Taylor would sign elsewhere. The latter seems likely. Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reported this week that the Jets had their eye on Taylor. ESPN’s Adam Schefter also mentioned the Jets as a possible landing spot, as well as the Browns.
While Taylor would surpass Glennon as the top quarterback on the free-agent market, his situation is complicated by the Bills not having to decide until the third day of the NFL’s calendar year – two days after free agency starts. Teams wanting a free agent may have to decide whether to pursue Glennon right away or wait to see if Taylor does indeed hit the market. If they wait, they will likely lose out on a shot at Glennon.
[UPDATE] Adam Schefter reports that the Bills will keep Taylor as the two sides have reached an agreement on a restructured contract.
Although the Redskins gave Cousins the franchise tag for the 2017 season, there’s still plenty of speculation that Mr. “You Like That?!” would leave Washington for the San Francisco 49ers. The Niners recently hired offensive savant Kyle Shanahan to be their new head coach – Cousins could benefit from that system, and they could benefit from having a top-10 quarterback.
On Tuesday, one report said Cousins to the Niners was practically a “done deal,” though subsequent reports have shot that down.
Not sure how it picked up steam, but a source said there’s no truth to a Kirk Cousins-49ers trade being “all but done.” #Redskins
— Master Tesfatsion (@MasterTes) March 8, 2017
At this point, Cousins holds all the cards. If Washington wants to keep Cousins, their only options appear to be a long-term contract or using the transition tag next season. (A third franchise tag is likely off the table, as it would raise Cousins’ salary to $34.5 million in 2018.) The Redskins appear unwilling to offer him a long-term contract for what he feels he is worth, and the transition tag would allow other teams to offer Cousins a contract that the Redskins would have trouble matching.
In other words, Washington’s best option may be to trade Cousins now, when they can still get something for him.
It’s hard to say for certain whether Cousins will stay in DC or if he’ll head to the Bay Area. Only time will tell, but Cousins’ fate may get the ball rolling around the league and influence several other teams’ decisions.
The Patriots’ handsome young backup has long been linked to the Browns, who have the necessary trade picks to potentially strike a deal with Bill Belichick.
The Patriots, though, are asking for a lot in exchange for Jimmy G. Marc Sessler of NFL.com said the Patriots would “probably” want a first-round pick this year and next year, which would be a high asking price for a quarterback who has started only two NFL games.
On Wednesday, Schefter said on “Mike & Mike” that a trade for Garoppolo was unlikely. He didn’t, however, specify if that was because New England simply didn’t want to trade him yet – he is still under contract for another season, and Tom Brady is turning 40 – or if other teams around the league were unwilling to give up what New England wants.
For now, though, the Browns are still the team to keep an eye on.
Now that the Cowboys offense is firmly in the grips of Dak Prescott, veteran QB Tony Romo will be headed out of town shortly. On Monday, reports linked Romo to the Broncos, as John Elway is known to like veteran quarterbacks. (Looking at you, Peyton Manning.) According to Jonah Keri of CBS Sports, Romo flew to Denver this week to meet with Elway.
The question here is whether the Broncos would wait until Jerry Jones releases Romo or if the Cowboys would proactively try to trade him before he walks for nothing.
Houston, despite having Osweiler, has also expressed interest in Romo, according to Mark Maske of The Washington Post. That said, Denver still seems the logical choice.
Unlike with other quarterbacks available, there may be less rush to settle Romo’s situation, as both the Broncos and the Texans already have other options on their respective rosters and would not need a Plan B for acquiring a quarterback.
Kaepernick is officially a free agent, and one team that could sign him in a backup role is the Pittsburgh Steelers. As Ben Roethlisberger will likely continue to battle injuries and miss some regular-season games, a player like Kaepernick could be a nice backup option. However, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN says Kaepernick is likely too expensive for the Steelers – though you never know.
Hoyer is generating some interest from the Jets and 49ers, according to Rapoport. Hoyer played well in limited time for Chicago last season and is just the sort of competent backup who looks poised to get paid this offseason.
As seems to be the case every year, the carousel of backup quarterbacks will send names like Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown, Case Keenum, EJ Manuel, Ryan Mallett, and Geno Smith to different teams – same as ever.