10 unfiltered thoughts on NFL's impending quarterback carousel


With all the quarterbacks who are free agents or potential cap casualties, the 2020 offseason is setting up to dramatically shift the landscape of the entire NFL. 

Tom Brady to Las Vegas? Philip Rivers to New England? Dak Prescott making $40 million per year in Dallas? Drew Brees to retire? A bidding war for the No. 1 draft pick? Merely a sampling of what could transpire in the months ahead. 

Fortunately, the Eagles are largely spared from it all. Carson Wentz is under contract and back to looking like somebody the franchise can build around for the next decade. And though the team might be in the market for a backup, that's small potatoes compared the game of musical chairs some of the league's biggest names will be playing. 

As has been the case of the last two decades, it all starts with Brady. 

1. Though I doubt the market for Tom Brady is as large as what's being speculated. He'll be 43 and is coming off one of the worst seasons of his 20-year career. You have to wonder how much and for how long the Patriots have been hiding his decline -- I'd venture since 2018 at least -- and to what extent Bill Belichick is responsible for Brady's unprecedented success in the first place.

Brady is still good enough that he wouldn't be an abject failure in a different uniform, but there aren't many places besides New England where he's gonna win a Super Bowl being a game manager, either. Any team willing to roll the dice to squeeze 1-2 more years out of him needs to be a contender — there aren't many lacking a QB — or have an ulterior motive, like the Raiders trying to promote their move to Las Vegas. 

2. Does anybody believe for one second the Cowboys won't work something out with Dak Prescott? Yes, Prescott's reported contract demands are totally unreasonable. Of course, Jerry Jones is probably behind the Brady-to-Dallas rumors. This is the way high-level negotiations work in the NFL. Things may even get worse before they get better, but whether it's on a long-term deal, short-term deal or the franchise tag, Prescott will have a star on his helmet in 2020. Put another way, the Cowboys aren't replacing their 27-year-old franchise QB with a 43-year-old. 

3. Speaking of incredibly transparent negotiating ploys, the Taysom Hill hype machine in New Orleans is out of control. The Saints' coaching staff and front office keep insisting he's a franchise QB, yet are simultaneously hoping Drew Brees doesn't retire. And when the team actually needed a backup last season, Teddy Bridgewater made all five starts. Hill is about to turn 30 and has attempted all of 15 passes in the NFL, including playoffs, so forgive me, I find it hard to read those headlines without interpreting them as "Please don't go, Drew -- but take less money." 

4. I'm much more interested to see where Philip Rivers lands than Brady. While the timing felt right for the Chargers to go in a different direction, that's more so because their team is a mess than the person under center. Yes, Rivers threw 20 interceptions last season. He also completed 66% of his passes for 4,615 yards with a 7.8 average and 23 touchdowns while playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in football. 

Rivers is 38 and admits he only has a year or two left. He also just moved his family across the country to the east coast, the geography of which likely cut his options in half. Put his production on a middle-of-the-pack team like the Colts or Buccaneers though, and poof, they're contenders. Heck, he might even be an option for the Patriots. 

5. As much as I hate to keep bringing up Brady, I'm perplexed as to why anybody thinks the Titans would want to go that route and mess up a good thing with Ryan Tannehill. He just led the league in passer rating and helped guide the team to a conference championship game. Sure, Tannehill's resume warns his breakout could be a fluke, and he is an unrestricted free agent. So franchise tag him then. Don't throw away a potential future for a guy who's best days are definitely behind him. 

6. While we're at it, why would the 49ers dump Jimmy Garoppolo? OK, he didn't have the greatest Super Bowl. Think how ridiculous that sentence is. He went to the Super Bowl! Garoppolo wasn't along for the ride, either, finishing top five in the league with a 69.1 completion percentage (4th), 8.4 yards per attempt (3rd) and 27 touchdown passes (5th). And keep in mind, he's made only 29 starts including playoffs -- less than two season's worth -- so there's room to improve. Pretty sure Belichick regrets giving up Garoppolo for Brady. No way the 49ers are considering the same. 

7. At first I thought the Bengals would be crazy to pass on Joe Burrow with the No. 1 pick -- and I still wouldn't take anybody else there. However, I am starting to believe they should warm up to the idea of a trade. If they draft Burrow, he'll have no choice but to play there for 5-7 years, and if Cincinnati starts winning some games, maybe everybody lives happily ever after. As of right now though, there seem to be a lot of subtle hints he doesn't want to go there, setting the franchise up for years of drama and, eventually, a heartbreaking divorce. 

The Dolphins, Chargers and Panthers (pick Nos. 5, 6 and 7) are all in the market for a QB, and each has motivation to make this a transformative offseason. Sure, the Bengals will probably wind up picking Akili Smith 2.0 instead, but maybe with a few extra firsts and seconds, they'll accidentally assemble a competitive team around him. 

8. Cam Newton could be a fascinating follow this offseason. The Panthers seemingly are distancing themselves from the former league MVP, which I don't get. Yeah, he's hurt and there's speculation he may miss the season. When Newton is healthy, there aren't many QBs with his pure physical abilities. He probably needs to tone down the running at 31 with his medical history, but the new regime in Carolina shouldn't be so quick to write him off, especially considering what the team was trotting out. Drop Newton in LA with the Chargers or even Cincinnati, and he could instantly turn those franchises into winners. 

9. The Jaguars have an interesting dilemma, but the smart move might be keeping Nick Foles. The only team I can envision being remotely interested in a trade is the Colts due to his connection to Frank Reich, and that would mean dealing Foles within the division. Plus, while Gardner Minshew had a promising rookie season, was it so good the franchise should pin its future on a sixth-round draft pick? Keep both, that way if the rest of the team is suddenly competitive -- however unlikely that may be -- at least there are options.

And no, the Eagles are not reopening that can of worms. 

10. Rapid-fire thoughts... Not sure what Matt Stafford's angle is in Detroit. With his cap hit, the Lions probably can't trade him even if they wanted... As is the case elsewhere, not sure Brady is really an upgrade over Derek Carr at this stage. On the other hand, it is very on brand of Jon Gruden to create his own roster instability, and the Raiders will sell a lot of jerseys... You can understand why the Bucs will shop around, but even if Jameis Winston cuts his interceptions from 30 to 20, that team might be unstoppable.

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