This is the most interesting offseason for quarterbacks in a long time. There is a legitimate top end starter that will change teams this offseason as well a few others that have starting ability with injury or history issues.
Along with the names available, there are teams with playoff and Super Bowl aspirations and others with a lot of cap space to make a splash.
The Minnesota Vikings may be the team most people talk about with this market. They have the seventh most cap space, according to spotrac.com, and the pieces already in place to be one of the league’s favorites. They appear to be a quarterback away. But, how much do they want to spend on the best available, presumably Kirk Cousins, knowing that they have young players in other positions that they will want to re-sign next offseason? Monday, several experts reported that they expect the Vikings to sign Cousins. They are creative with the cap and will have to be in order to get the players like Stefon Diggs, Danielle Hunter and others in the next couple offseasons.
Another contender to watch is the Denver Broncos. They have a very good defense and some pieces on offense, but their quarterback torpedoed their season in 2017. They should be in the market for one of the starters available. They also could go after their quarterback in the draft. They have the fifth pick in the first round. However, do they want to go that route with aging pieces in place to at least contend in AFC West?
The Cleveland Browns and New York Jets have a need at quarterback and have more the most and second most, respectively, cap space available. However, when it comes to Cousins, he has said the most important thing is winning. Those two teams are closer to just trying to get out of their respective division’s cellar rather than making the playoffs.
The Arizona Cardinals are an interesting team to watch in the quarterback market. Carson Palmer retired and every other signal caller on the roster is a free agent. Once free agency opens, they will likely have no quarterbacks on their roster. They will probably try to move quickly on one of the starter options. The draft is an option, but their stars are aging and the window may not be open long enough for a rookie to help them. In addition, they currently have the 15th pick in the first round. It is hard to get an impact quarterback at spot in the first round.
Here are the best quarterbacks scheduled to be free agents on March 14.
#1 - Drew Brees, Saints
No one really expects Brees to play anywhere but New Orleans next season. But, he technically is a free agent and is clearly the best. He is the only elite quarterback on the market.
#2 - Kirk Cousins, Washington
There hasn’t been a more anticipated quarterback on the market in free agency than Cousins in quite some time. He has put up big numbers, but his Washington teams have hovered around .500 and have been to the playoffs once in the last five seasons.
#3 - Case Keenum, Vikings
Keenum came out of nowhere to be one of the better quarterbacks in the league last season. He played very well under the team’s former-offensive coordinator Pat Schurmer in one season in Minnesota. Several reports on Monday state that the Vikings will not franchise or transition tag him and let him sign elsewhere.
#4 - Sam Bradford, Vikings
Bradford’s knee injury last season derailed what could have led to a long-term partnership with the Vikings. He was phenomenal in the opener against the Saints, but only played one horrendous half the rest of the season. He will likely not be back in Minnesota.
#5 - Josh McCown, Jets
There should be very little tread left on McCown’s tires, but he still has enough to help a team. While the talent is there, the list of negatives is long. He turns 39-years-old this summer. Last season, was just the fourth time in the last 12 seasons that he started at least nine games in a season. Of those four, none were more than 13 games. In the last 11 seasons, he has not thrown a pass in three of them and played in three games or fewer five times. History says he is not a starter and should be signed as a backup.
Greatest Unknown - Teddy Bridgewater, Vikings
Bridgewater hasn’t played more than a handful of snaps, none of which were meaningful plays, in over two years. The Vikings have the best intel on his recovery and it sounds like they want him to be back. However, they have a window to win now and the unknown on how he will react to facing a live pass rush. He may have to accept a backup role with the Vikings or hope someone else will give him a chance to start. It may make the most sense to take the first option and show in preseason and mop up duty that he is healthy to set him up for the next contract.
Wild Card - A.J. McCarron, Bengals
McCarron was a popular player at the trade deadline, mostly known because of the Browns’ gaffe in getting the paperwork completed or sent in on time. The team fought for his status to be as a restricted free agent this offseason, but an arbitrator decided that his grievance was valid. He is now a greatly unproven unrestricted free agent that may cash in because of his potential rather than his production.