I’ve been a Miami Dolphins fan the entirety of my 19-year life. I was born in 1999 which happens to be the last season that Dan Marino played in the NFL. Since then the best quarterback the Miami Dolphins have had was Chad Pennington, who lead them to their last division title in 2008. I say all this because I know what it feels like to be missing a franchise quarterback as much as anyone. The NFL runs on the back of quarterback play if you don’t have a good one you are doing everything in your power to get one. Every summer, I think it’s a fun exercise to see which teams will be jostling for quarterbacks during the next NFL draft.
Something that I have noticed is how the bar for quarterback play has been raised in recent years by the younger QBs. Jared Goff and Carson Wentz were drafted in 2016 and both have been instrumental in getting their teams to a Super Bowl. Patrick Mahomes started one season, in which, he won MVP and lead the Chiefs to the AFC Championship game. Mitchell Trubisky and Deshaun Watson both won their respective divisions in 2018. Baker Mayfield didn’t even play a full season and still broke the rookie touchdown record. NFL franchises are seeing this early success for quarterbacks and it’s becoming easier for them to move on from guys who are just okay and invest in the draft.
Last year’s quarterback class was widely regarded by the scouting community in both the NFL and on Twitter to be a weak one. 2020, on the other hand, has been lauded as a much better class. The class is headlined by Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama), Justin Herbert (Oregon), Jake Fromm (Georgia), and Jacob Eason (Washington). There are some intriguing players like KJ Costello (Stanford), Nate Stanley (Iowa), Jordan Love (Utah State), and Brian Lewerke (Mich. State) that make up the depth of the class. I don’t want to draw any conclusions this early in the draft cycle, but I’m way more excited about this year’s class.
I broke the article down into three categories: Old but Gold, Honorable Mentions, and Immediate Replacement Needed. The Old but Gold category is for teams with aging quarterbacks that are still at the top of their game but need replacement plans. Honorable Mentions is for QBs who I think could be replaced but probably won’t be. The Immediate Replacement category is for players who I think are in immediate danger of being replaced if they don’t improve a lot this season.
I’m gonna have a stat line for each quarterback starting in 2015 up until the present. This will just allow for some context about the quarterbacks recent success because that’s all teams care about.
Lastly, I did not consider teams who drafted quarterbacks high in the 2018 or 2019 class for this list. The excluded teams include New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens, New York Giants, Washington Redskins, Arizona Cardinals, and Denver Broncos.
Disclaimer: The Miami Dolphins are betting on Josh Rosen to be the guy, and he might not be, so they could be in the QB race by the end of the season.
Old But Gold
These are the teams who need to find a replacement plan for their aging star quarterback before they end up retiring. I won’t spend a lot of time explaining these because they are fairly obvious.
New England Patriots and Tom Brady
Tom Brady is 41 years old at the moment and has not slowed down one bit picking up another Super Bowl in 2018. The Patriots have been drafting mid-round quarterbacks for a couple of years now. Jimmy Garoppolo was a second-round pick who was traded to San Francisco for a second-round pick. Jacoby Brissett was a third-round pick and traded to the Colts after having success for the Patriots the year of Brady’s suspension. They drafted Jarrett Stidham in the fourth-round this year, so they know the end is near. I’m not sure Stidham is the answer, so the Patriots might be wanna be aware of the 2020 class.
New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees
The Saints actually have more of a plan than some teams for their aging star quarterback. The Saints were able to retain Teddy Bridgewater as a backup this off-season despite reports saying he would sign with Miami. Bridgewater is a former first-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings and had success there before getting hurt and missing two years of football. I like Bridgewater a good bit, but you can’t ignore his injury history and lack of actual game reps recently. The Saints need to keep an eye on the 2020 quarterback class to cover themselves for the future.
LA Chargers and Phillip Rivers
Phillip Rivers is one of my favorite people and players in the NFL today, however, he is 37 years old. Unlike the Patriots, the Chargers have not invested in young quarterbacks over the years with premium picks. They signed Tyrod Taylor this off-season but let’s be real here he isn’t the future of the team. Behind him are Cardale Jones and Easton Stick who are two players taken on day three of the draft. Both players actually carried UDFA grades on my board during their respective draft year. The Chargers should keep an eye on the 2020 class as they look to set themselves up for life without Philip Rivers.
Pittsburgh Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger
The Steelers are a weird situation compared to the rest of the teams in this category. I actually like some of the mid-round quarterbacks they have invested in recently. Mason Rudolph and Josh Dobbs were two players I liked as developmental prospects. Dobbs looks good in the pre-season every year, but he’s spent most of his time as QB 3 since being drafted. Rudolph has not gotten any buzz or rave reviews from anyone so far in his career. The Steelers made things more interesting by signing Big Ben to a new contract extension this off-season. I just think Pittsburgh needs to keep an open mind when looking at the 2020 quarterback class.
These guys might be in trouble, but I think they are safe for now.
Detroit Lions and Matt Stafford
Stat line 2015-2018: 106 touchdowns, 44 interceptions, 16,812 passing yards, and 66.1 completion percentage
It pains me more than you know to put Matt Stafford on this list. The fact that he has made the Lions somewhat relevant is a more impressive feat than I think a lot of people realize. Stafford hasn’t missed a start since 2010 and owns pretty much every single Lion’s passing record. The sad truth, however, is Stafford is 0-3 all-time in the postseason and hasn’t been there since 2016. It is not crazy to think that if the Lions underperform again this season that HC Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn could be fired. The new staff might look at Stafford as a valuable trade piece to rebuild this team and get their own guy at quarterback. I wouldn’t replace Stafford, but the NFL we live in today includes crazy trades and hunger for younger better quarterbacks.
Dallas Cowboys and Dak Prescott
Stat Line 2016-2018: 67 touchdowns, 25 interceptions, 10,876 passing yards, and 66.1 completion percentage
I know Prescott has one less year to work with than most of the other QBs on this list but his numbers aren’t impressive either way. The numbers that Prescott can hang his hat on is his 32-16 overall record and 1-2 playoff record. Prescott’s one playoff win actually puts him ahead of a lot of starting quarterbacks making it a positive stat. The Cowboys could definitely upgrade from Dak in the draft if they really wanted to. With that said, Prescott is a winner and fits the Cowboys offense perfectly. Dallas has been discussing a contract extension with Prescott during the summer, so it would surprise me to see them move on from him in the near future. Although, if he has a bad season this year there will be some internal conversations about it trust me.
Immediate Replacement Needed
These are the quarterback who could be on their last leg heading into the 2019 season.
Cincinnati Bengals and Andy Dalton
Stat Line 2015-2018: 89 touchdowns, 38 interceptions, 13,342 passing yards, and 62.95 completion percentage
What happened to Andy Dalton and the Bengals? Dalton led the Bengals to the playoffs in four straight seasons from 2011-2014 with some impressive passing numbers to go with. Well here’s the problem, the Bengals haven’t been back to the playoffs since 2014, and they lost in the first round of the playoffs all four years they made it. That makes Dalton 0-4 in the playoffs to go along with a five-year drought. Dalton’s numbers aren’t anything to get excited about either especially while he’s struggled to stay on the field at times. The Bengals brought in QB whisper Zac Taylor this season as their new head coach which led to some rumors they would draft a quarterback in 2019. If Dalton doesn’t have a career year this year than he is most likely a goner.
Oakland Raiders and Derek Carr
Stat Line 2015-2018: 101 touchdowns, 42 interceptions, 15,469 passing yards, and 64.12 completion percentage
Carr actually has some pretty good numbers when compared to the rest of the quarterbacks I’ll have on this list. He even showed some signs of life at the end of the 2018 season in Jon Gruden’s offense. There are a couple of things that worry me about claiming Carr as the future of the Raiders. First, Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock are an unpredictable brain trust right now having just come together. Second, it was rumored during the entire 2019 draft process the Raiders coveted Kyler Murray (specifically Gruden) which isn’t a great sign for Carr. Lastly, and most importantly, Carr’s performance hasn’t been consistently good. He’s been to the playoffs just once since being drafted in 2014 and wasn’t even healthy to play in the game that year. I will say this though, Carr has his best supportive cast since coming into the league. If he doesn’t have a great year with this group of pass catchers than look for the Raiders to invest in the 2020 QB class.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jameis Winston
Stat Line 2015-2018: 88 touchdowns, 58 interceptions, 14,628 passing yards, and 61.6 completion percentage
The first thing that jumped off the page to me was the sheer number of interceptions that Winston has thrown since coming into the league. Especially, when you consider he’s missed time with both injury and suspension. Speaking of suspensions, Winston has served more of those than he has made playoff appearances. He’s has had trouble off the field since his college days, so I guess it shouldn’t surprise me. On the field, Winston hasn’t been much better leading Tampa to just one winning season which was a 9-7 season in 2016. Winston will have an opportunity to work with one of the best QB coaches in the league this season in Bruce Arians. If Arians can’t fix Winston then Tampa will have to look at the 2020 quarterback class to grab a new franchise passer.
Tennessee Titans and Marcus Mariota
Stat Line 2015-2018: 69 touchdowns, 42 interceptions, 12,004 passing yards, and 63.2 completion percentage
Full disclosure, 2015 was my first year “covering” the draft and, I was super high on Mariota coming out of Oregon. His rookie season was impressive and he’s lead the Titans to the playoffs twice with a 1-2 overall record. The problem for Mariota has been a lack of production coupled with a lot of injuries. The Titans were in the thick of the AFC playoff race this season but had to rely on backup QB Blaine Gabbert to win a week 17 game against the streaking Colts. Mariota’s lack of production is honestly astounding. 69 touchdowns in four seasons breaks down to a little over 17 touchdowns a season. For reference, Ryan Fitzpatrick started seven games for Tampa Bay in 2018 and threw 17 touchdowns. Not only does Mariota need to stay on the field in 2019, but he also has to become more of a dynamic passer if he wants to keep his job heading into the 2020 draft.