This was compiled before John Dorsey decided to have his draft "tea party." Actually, it clears up one thing - Barkley goes to the Dawg Pound at #1. It could also be setting up Mayfield at #4. Why trade for Taylor & then draft Allen or Darnold? Two different systems & since Taylor will likely be the 2018 version of Michael Glennon, doesn't it make sense for them to draft an equally mobile QB, so they will not have to change systems in-season?
Buffalo is desperate to move into the top ten, offering their cache of six picks in the first three rounds. With Quenton Nelson, my TOP player, let's pray Gettleman does not bite on Buffalo's offer. Likely, look for Indy, San Fran or Oakland to bite.
For the #2, if I was Gettleman, I'm looking for another #1 in 2019 to even get on the horn with the Bills. Any way, here is my veteran QB Analysis;
THE NFL DRAFT REPORT PRESENTS
THE 2018 NFL DRAFT QUARTERBACK ANALYSIS – PART I
This is the first of The NFL Draft Report’s four-part series dealing with the 2018 NFL Draft Quarterback Class and the Veteran Free Agency Group. Part One takes a look at the veteran free agent group, looking at their careers, to date, along with possible projections on where they will be employed during the 2018 campaign. It will also take a look at some potential veteran trades that could occur at this position.
The NFL has placed a great reliance on developing quarterback talent over the years, with 1,052 signal callers being drafted since 1936, including 223 since the turn of the century in 2000.
Part Two will closely examine the contingent of college passers vying for Day One draft status. It will also contain a draft/position history lesson, looking back at the reliance teams have had in selecting 161 quarterbacks in the first round since the draft’s inception in 1936.
Part Three will take a look at the rest of the 2018 Quarterback Draft Class. It will feature the players categorized as the best of the rest, most overrated, most underrated and also our group of sleepers who could be nice finds during the third day of the draft procedure and possible free agent finds that could impress during training camp.
Part Four will take a look at some of the “fallen” stars, who might have seen their draft stocks dip due to injuries or poor performances during the 2017 season, along with our draft value board, pro projection and draft projection grades for the 2018 class.
THE NFL’S QUARTERBACK DRAFT INFATUATION
Since the draft’s inception in 1936, 1,052 college quarterbacks have been selected. That figure includes 690 signal-callers entering training camp since the two leagues merged and held a universal draft in 1970. Since the turn of the century in 2000, 223 of these quarterbacks have heard their names called on draft day.
That group of passers includes 161 first round choices used since 1936, with 102 coming after the merger and 48 joining the league since the year 2000. Within that opening round collection, 32 have been the top overall selection during their respective draft year, with 22 earning that distinction since 1970 and eleven stepping on to the podium first since 2000.
Among the first round quarterbacks are thirteen that eventually ended up earning Hall of Fame honors. While Pittsburgh’s D’Angelo Williams might not be a fan of his, the measuring stick for elite quarterbacks – at least in the first round – has been Peyton Manning. Taken with the top pick in the 1998 draft by the Indianapolis Colts, among all first round quarterbacks, he leads that group in games played (266), games started (265), most victories (189), most pass completions (6,125), most pass attempts (9,380), most touchdown passes (539) and most yards passing.
John Hadl (tenth pick in the 1962 draft by Detroit) holds the dubious honor for throwing the most interceptions (268) among the first round passers - Manning ranks fifth on that chart with 251. Only nineteen first round quarterbacks have completed 2,500 passes during their career, while only eleven have attempted at least 5,000 throws. Ten signal-callers accounted for 250 touchdown tosses, but outside of Manning, only Miami’s Dan Marino (27th choice in 1983) has reached the 400-TD level (420).
Ten quarterbacks have accounted for at least 40,000 yards passing. However, outside of Manning (71,940) and Marino (61,361), the only other first round pick to tally at least 50,000 aerial yards was Denver’s John Elway, the top overall choice by Baltimore in 1983 before forcing a trade to the Broncos. Fourteen of these passers have recorded at least 200 interceptions. Behind Hadl, the only other QBs with at least 250 interceptions are Manning (251), Marino (252), Norm Snead (1961 second overall pick by Washington, 257 thefts) and Vinny Testaverde (Tampa’s top pick in 1987, 267).
As for mobile quarterbacks, Michael Vick (top pick by Atlanta in 2001) leads the first round group with 6,109 yards rushing. Hall of Famer, Otto Graham (fourth choice in 1944 by Detroit) is the top scoring producer among quarterbacks with 44 touchdown runs. That record will soon fall during the early stages of 2016, as Carolina’s top selection in 2011, Cam Newton, has already piled up 43 touchdowns on the ground during his short, but highly productive career.
Being a first round quarterback does not lead to entitlement. Eighteen first round choices at the position played no more that fifteen games before their careers ended, including five that appeared in less than ten contests and two that never reached the playing field – Harry Agganis, the 12th overall pick by Cleveland in 1952, and New York Titans’ fifth overall choice in 1962, Sandy Stephens.
During the last two drafts, six first round choices were used at this position, with the Rams (Jared Goff), Philadelphia (Carson Wentz) and Houston (Deshawn Watson) all appearing to be their respective organization's answer to fill their long-term needs. One former top overall pick, Alex Smith (2005, San Francisco) was recently traded to Washington, in order to facilitate the development of Kansas City's first round choice, Patrick Mahomes.
One first round quarterback (2016) who could be unemployed by the start of the 2018 season could be current Denver Broncos question mark, Paxton Lynch. Broncos brass have all but admitted that selection was a blunder. Lynch has appeared in five games during his last two seasons, but has failed to grasp the offense due to intelligence issues and has had a series of nagging injuries also him back. That has forced GM John Elway to make a concerted effort to recruit Washington's Kirk Cousins, who also has the Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals figuring into others coveting the free agent signal caller.
While we are not biting on Cousins' line that "money will not matter" in his future team decision, he did stress that he wants to go to a contender, which could make the Jets and Cardinals not as appealing as the Vikings or Broncos. Minnesota has a talented coaching base, big-play receivers, an improving offensive line and possibly a stud running back, if Dalvin Cook is fully recovered from knee woes.
Couple that with one of the best defenses in the game, along with Cousins' much better success when playing indoors, the Vikings seem like his logical destination, especially with Denver hard-pressed for cap space (Denver has 26.7 million to spend and eleven free agents departing, with none expected to resign; Minnesota is 50.9 million under the cap, with two million more about to be added when the NFL officially announces that Teddy Bridgewater is an unrestricted free agent).
THE FIRST ROUND DOES NOT ALWAYS REAP GREAT RESULTS
Don Allard was the fourth overall pick by Washington in 1959, but he appeared in just five games and never threw a pass before quitting after the 1962 season. San Francisco guru, the late Bill Walsh, missed the target badly with his first round selection of Jim Druckenmiller in 1997. In two season, the Virginia Tech grad had one touchdown and four interceptions in six appearances.
Rich Campbell went to Green Bay with the sixth pick in 1981, but never started the seven games he played in through the 1984 schedule. Bobby Garrett appeared in nine games and gained 143 yards passing after he was the top overall choice by Cleveland in 1954. Outside of Druckenmiller, the other first round quarterbacks to start only one game during their careers were the Rams’ Terry Baker )top pick in 1963), who lasted eighteen games as a reserve through three seasons and Stan Heath, the fifth overall pick by Green Bay in 1949 who appeared in twelve contests during that lone season in the league.
The first round quarterback to perform in at least 100 games with the least amount of starts was Rice’s King Hill, the top overall pick in the 1958 by the Chicago Cardinals. He moved with the team to St. Louis before playing in Philadelphia and Minnesota. He compiled a 7-22-1 record as a starter, generating 5,553 yards passing that included 37 touchdowns and 71 interceptions from the 1958-69 seasons.
COLLEGES ARE NO HELP IN QUARTERBACK DEVELOPMENT
The spread offense is more prevalent than ever before in college football and as a result, evaluating the quarterback position has become increasingly more difficult than in the past. Scouts must poke and prod to project how a player will acclimate to the pro game and (usually) a significant system change. It’s also important to note that young signal callers are getting less time than ever to prove they are capable of leading an NFL offense (just look at Jimmy Clausen and Paxton Lynch). This year’s quarterback crop features more “big names” and less pro-ready prospects, as all of the top-tier quarterbacks feature significant question marks.
Still, the National Football League is as pass-happy as ever and teams with a need under center will place a high premium on top signal callers. This year’s class could see as many as five quarterbacks selected in the first round, the most since the 1999 draft say Cleveland take Tim Couch with the top overall pick, followed by Donovan McNabb heading to Philadelphia with the second choice, Akili Smith becoming a Bengal with the third selection and joined by Duante Culpepper becoming a Viking (pick #11) and Cade McNown heading to Chicago (12th).
The 1983 draft will go down for its historical success among first round quarterbacks. John Elway (Denver - top pick), Jim Kelly (Buffalo - 14th) and Dan Marino (Miami - 27th) all are Hall of Fame members. That trio also saw Todd Blackledge (Kansas City - 7th), Tony Eason (New England - 15th) and Ken O'Brien (Jets - 24th) join them as first round choices, but with not the obvious success that the other three enjoyed. Still, it marked the most first round selections used at the quarterback position in any given year.
As much as the quarterback position has been coveted since the draft's inception in 1936, there have been nine draft phases were a signal caller never heard his name called in Round One. In fact, the first draft were sans first round passers. None were taken in 1938, 1940 and 1941. A run on first rounders then lasted until all were disregarded in the 1974 draft. The 1984 and '85 drafts failed to produce any first round quarterbacks, much like the 1988 draft process. The last time that none were taken in the opening round was 1996.
THOSE IN DOUBT OF DRAFTING A QUARTERBACK WILL OPT FOR
THE VETERAN FREE AGENT MARKET
Without free agency preceding the draft, well-built franchises that would normally pursue a veteran, such as Minnesota, may be forced to invest in a young quarterback. Even teams in the middle of the pack will take a long look at this year’s veteran passers that will be on the market. Indications are that Arizona, Cleveland, Denver, the New York Giants and the New York Jets will all try to secure an established passer before looking to invest a first round selection, money and time into any of the heralded rookies.
Most say that Washington's Kirk Cousins will be the object of affection for the Cardinals, Broncos and Jets, but a dark-horse in this race could be Minnesota, a team that could see three of their current signal callers head out in search for jobs elsewhere. Cousins is coming off a three-year successful stretch for the Redskins, but the relationship with the front office and player have been strained ever since they twice placed the franchise tag on him.
Realizing that it is time to move on, especially with the coaches tiring of the ongoing contract drama, Washington recently traded for Alex Smith, which leaves Kansas City banking on last year's top pick, Patrick Mahomes, being ready to take over the top spot for the Chiefs. If not for the numbers on his birth certificate and his stated desire to remain in New Orleans, Drew Brees, and not Cousins, would have been the most highly sought after quarterback in this free agent class.
Currently, that market will feature thirty unrestricted free agents and one (Miami's David Fales) who will be restricted. Five others - Zac Dysert-Dallas, Kevin Hogan-Cleveland, Jake Rudock-Detroit, Joe Callahan-Green Bay and Jerod Evans-Green Bay, are exclusive rights passers. From that group, the Lions will certainly get Rudock inked and Callahan has been a repeat camp performer for the Pack and will also be resigned. Evans could also head back to Wisconsin, especially if the team gets a decent offer for Brett Hundley (Arizona has mild interest).
BREAKING DOWN THE VETERAN QUARTERBACK TALENT
While Cousins is likely to get the biggest contract of the current unrestricted quarterback free agent crop, with a deal that could average thirty million dollars per year, Brees could also see a very nice increase from his $24-plus million dollar payout in 2017. However, they are the only two among five current free agent passers who earned at least ten million last year to continue to reap salary benefits.
Chicago admitted to their biggest 2017 off-season blunder by cutting ties with Mike Glennon. The former Buccaneer could end up back with his former team, who would not mind his return visit, as starter Jameis Winston has had injury, maturity and off-field issues. However, after the Bears foolishly gave him sixteen million dollars for what amounted to four pathetic appearances last year, he is looking at possibly a three-million dollar deal to serve as Winston's caddy. By cutting Glennon loose, Chicago will take a $4.5 million cap hit for 2018.
Another highly paid passer who will have a tough time finding a new home for over three million per year is oft-injured and highly fragile Sam Bradford, one of three Vikings quarterbacks heading towards free agency. Bradford commanded an $18 million payout for two games of services last season and Minnesota brass describe his woeful knee condition as degenerative. While he might make for a decent coach one day, no team will even consider him at one-tenth his previous salary unless they have hedge-words in his contact based on his long injury history.
Still, Bradford's accuracy is sure to impress a few teams, especially if he is willing to take a one-year deal. The shine seems to have fallen off Joe Flacco in Baltimore and Bradford is way better than the current Ravens quarterback in the accuracy department, making him worth the risk in the $3-5 million dollar range.
When Ryan Tannehill was lost for the season, Miami head coach Adam Gase tried to strike lightning in a bottle by bringing in one of his former charges - Jay Cutler, luring the former Bronco/Bear away from the television booth. After ten million dollars bought the Dolphins 2,666 yards, nineteen touch-downs and fourteen interceptions, to go along with six lost fumbles, Miami is ready to see Cutler pursue his football after-life.
Recently, word filtered out that the Dolphins are strongly considering using their 2018 first round choice (11th) on a quarterback, placing the now recovered Tannehill possibly fighting for his career in training camp. They are hoping that Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield somehow slips out of the draft's top ten selections, as they love his accuracy and liken him to Drew Brees and Bob Griese - having little concern for his lack of height and deep arm strength.
The only other unrestricted free agent passer to make over five million last year was Josh McCown, as the 38-year old signal caller went home with six million from the Jets for thirteen games. A broken hand ended his season after thirteen games and the injury was actually a blessing in disguise, as the Jets became painfully aware that his replacements, Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty are obviously not the answer moving forward.
McCown has indicated that he is interested in returning to New York. The team could ink him to the same one-year deal, using him as a doormat and sounding board for a rookie quarterback, but look for the Jets to hold off on making a hasty decision on the veteran. They have shown they are willing to open the bank vault for Kirk Cousins, but they also have a few veteran contingency plans (A.J. McCarron, Case Keenum) that might produce the same or better results than the Redskins passer, at a much lower price tag.
Among the other twenty-four unrestricted quarterbacks, the only ones who appear to reap pretty decent contracts are the Vikings' Keenum, and Cincinnati's A.J. McCarron. Keenum finally got the opportunity to start without having to constantly look over his shoulder, much like what happened when he was with the Rams. He could see a Mike Glennon-like deal (three years/45 million) as numbers for his next contract. The Vikings have shown a strong interest in a repeat performance, but look for Minnesota to come back Keenum's way only if they fail to lure Cousins.
McCarron could start for at least half the teams in this league - only, Cincinnati did not feel the same way. The Bengals are determined to ride out their current offensive stagnate with Andy Dalton at the helm and an arbitrator recently awarded McCarron complete free agency. He was almost traded to Cleveland at the deadline last season and new Browns general manager John Dorsey has shown interest. Hue Jackson has always been a big McCarron supporter from their Cincinnati days in the quarterback room. Even if the Browns draft a quarterback in the first round, McCarron could serve as an excellent bridge while Jackson grooms a new protege.
What could make that marriage happen is if Dorsey uses the top draft selection on Penn State running back Saquon Barkley. The Browns could hedge their bets at quarterback by selecting whatever is left from the Josh Rosen-Sam Darnold-Josh Allen-Baker Mayfield contingent with the fourth choice in the draft. Or, they can simply take Barkley, sign McCarron and then see if rush end Bradley Chubb or offensive guard sensation Quenton Nelson is there with the fourth choice.
Almost all of the other unrestricted quarterbacks will either be fighting for a roster spot, content to remain in their reserve roles or remain on the unemployment line, flying out to auditions after auditions. While McCown could also fall into this category, especially if the Jets somehow manage to lure Cousins, those likely tio stay in their current resrve roles and salaries are Carolina's Derek Anderson - a great sounding board when Cam Newton has his normal meltdown; Matt Moore - who might end up in a coaching position with Miami, if the Dolphins make big changes under center; Chase Daniel - a sage veteran and Sean Payton favorite, tasked with holding the clip board for Drew Brees and Kansas City's Tyler Bray - with Alex Smith traded and Bray just age twenty-six, it gives the Chiefs some safety factor if Mahomes fails to materialize.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (three million from Tampa Bay), Mark Sanchez (two million with the Bears), Kellen Clemens (one million with the Chargers) and Blaine Gabbert (Arizona at 885K) could all be back with their 2017 teams, at or below their salaries from last season, but no one is going to show much interest in them around the league.
The same holds true for the likes of Drew Stanton (3.25 million from Arizona), Chad Henne (3.35 million from Jacksonville) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (three million at Tampa), but that trio will more than likely receive less than half their previous going rate. Over-thirty types like Scott Tolzien (Colts), Joe Webb (Buffalo), Josh Johnson (Houston) and Brandon Weeden (Tennessee) are all in danger of seeing their careers come to a close.
If Teddy Bridgewater (1.7 million from Minnesota) is not looking to brake the bank and accept a one-year make-good deal, teams like Arizona, Buffalo and the Giants could give him serious consideration. He could also return to Minnesota, but only if they do not secure the likes of Cousins or resign Keenum. That devastating knee injury is what could scare off more than a few teams, though. Kansas City once coveted Bridgewater coming out of college and with the youngster not expected to get any starting job offers, heading to the Chiefs could get him attention as the top signal-caller there, if Mahomes proves he's not ready.
Geno Smith burnt so many bridges during his tenure as a New York Jet, you'd think he would be arrested for arson. In his "claim to fame" as the replacement for Eli Manning, ending that veteran's starting streak, Smith proved to Giants fans that the Jets' decision to cast him off their roster after the 2016 season was a very wise decision. Another once promising passer who might have spent his "three genie wishes" is E.J. Manuel, the former first round bust of the Bills. He landed in Oakland last season, throwing for 265 yards in two games, but the coaches were not pleased with his lack of grasp of play concepts.
Seattle could look to move on from Austin Davis (885K), but at that price tag, they might keep him around as a third-string option. Brock Osweiler and Matt Barkley might have to sell apples outside a stadium if they want to be near a playing field on Sundays. Both seemed to have never recovered from their previous nightmare endings down in Houston before Osweiler returned to Denver and Barkley latched on as Matt Ryan's caddy in Atlanta.
The last of the unrestricted free agents is also the least talented - Tom Savage. This guy has had more chances than at a raffle, with multiple college stop-offs before the journeyman route in the NFL. None of those destinations proved that he was an NFL-caliber passer. Despite his "big arm," even the veteran's minimum of $630K last season seemed to be too much for his services (eight games, 1,141 yards, five touchdowns, six interceptions, eight fumbles).
TEAMS NOT LIKING FREE AGENT ASKING PRICES COULD OPT FOR THE TRADE ROUTE
While signing a veteran from the free agent market, or selecting one early in the draft seem to be the favored options for most teams, others with salary cap space might entertain going the Statue of Liberty route - give me your tired or unwanted. Some teams, like Philadelphia, are hard-pressed by the salary cap to keep all of their current free agents, making Super Bowl hero Nick Foles a hot name on the trade market.
Of course, the Eagles have their franchise quarterback in place - Carson Wentz - but the regular season MVP was lost at the end of the season due to a knee injury that required surgery. Unless the team is confident that Wentz will be fully recovered by the start of the season, trading Foles could be rather risky. The front office has stated their utmost confidence that Washington cast-off Nate Sudfeld will one day start in this league, so, that could ease some angst over whether to put Foles on the trade market.
Actually, Foles (7.6 million) is on the books to make more than Wentz (7.2 million) in 2018. Sidfeld comes with a 630K price tag. With the salary cap for 2018 expected to be set at 180 million, the Eagles have $15,505,365 invested in four quarterback slots - 8.32% of the team's total salary.
Philadelphia has fourteen veterans about to hit the 2018 free agent market - five of them are starters and two others highly needed reserves. They have a 2017 roll-over of $514k, but even without those not under contract, they are at $192,190,891 in salary commitments, with their top 51 pulling in $186 million of that tab. the have to allocated $4.6 million to the 2018 draft pool and will carry $900K in dead pool money, leaving them looking for ways to slash close to seven million dollars from the coffers. Subtract Foles' salary and the Eagles have a little room moving forward.
Of all the quarterback needy teams out there, the Arizona Cardinals would be wise to mount a trade attempt for Foles. The Texas native was a standout passer at the University of Arizona before joining the Eagles as the 88th overall pick (third round) in 2012. Pit stops with the Rams and Chiefs before returning to the Eagles in 2017 showed Foles the dark side of business in the league. However, "small town boy makes good" will play out nicely in the Sun Devil state and with a Hall of Fame receiver like Larry Fitzgerald and injured star David Johnson returning at tailback. Foles will have necessary weapons to get the Cards back into the playoff fast track.
One other quarterback who has already been placed on the trade market is Trevor Siemian. The Broncos gave the former Northwestern star two years to convince them he was an adequate replacement for Peyton Manning. After just missing the playoffs in 2016, the team plummeted to new depths with a 5-11 record that was compiled by Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch. All three failed miserably during their time on the field last season.
Siemian is being eyed for a possible reserve role by New England, but do not look for the Patriots to offer Denver much, outside of a conditional pick, while taking $1.9 million away from Denver's salary cap that the Broncos could use to stave off Minnesota's pursuit of Cousins. Siemian has shown some flashes in the past, and New England is well known for taking others' rejects to have them fit in nicely in their system. The Pats are expected to draft a young quarterback, considering that Tom Brady is age forty and Brian Hoyer is pushing 33. Siemian will be 26 when the 2018 season starts and even if they draft a quarterback, Siemian should take over the backup job, leaving Hoyer to fend off the rookie.
THE POSITION ALBATROSSES IN THE QUARTERBACK ROOM
Whether he gets another chance to play in this league, or not, perhaps the most polarizing first rounder in recent years is Cleveland’s castoff, Johnny Manziel, the 22nd pick in the 2014 draft. His off-field issues left him with a 2-6 record as a starter, throwing for seven touchdowns and seven interceptions before getting the boot. He spent last season trying to recover from his addictions and was considering playing in the Canadian Football League, but was blocked by the league. Even though his status was recently cleared by CFL officials, Manziel knows that this is his last chance at playing pro football.
One of the biggest "falls from grace" at the quarterback position is not Manziel, however. Jim Harbaugh's rifle-armed quarterback, who replaced the top pick in the draft as the San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback was Colin Kaepernick. He served as the backup to Alex Smith, and became the 49ers' starter in the middle of the 2012 season after Smith suffered a concussion. He then remained the team's starting quarterback for the rest of the season, leading the team to their first Super Bowl appearance since 1994.
During the 2013 season, his first full season as a starter, Kaepernick helped the 49ers reach the NFC Championship Game. Over the next three seasons, Kaepernick lost and won back his starting job, with the 49ers missing the playoffs for three years consecutively. He opted out of his contract with the 49ers to become a free agent after the 2016 season.
In 2016, Kaepernick became a national figure when he ignited a firestorm of controversy by refusing to stand while the United States national anthem was being played before the start of NFL games. His behavior was in protest of what he perceived as racial injustice in the United States. His actions prompted negative and positive responses. The negative responses included suggestions that players who protest should be fired; other people displayed their disapproval of players' protests by leaving the stadium immediately after the protests or refusing to watch games at all.
Positive responses included similar activity by additional athletes in the NFL and other American sports leagues protesting in various ways during the anthem. In 2017, Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL and its owners, accusing them of colluding to not hire him. He went unsigned for the entire season, despite numerous injuries to teams with playoff aspirations - especially Houston and Denver. With his lawsuit pending, his chances of suiting up in the league for the 2018 season seem to have evaporated.
AS SHANE McMAHON WOULD SAY - SHOW ME THE MONEY, MONEY, MONEY
So, with teams checking their bank accounts (salary cap) and with several in desperate needs for quarterback upgrades, what might be the numbers appearing on the contract for several of these veterans to sign? Who do we feel they will end up signing with?
Drew Brees-New Orleans Saints...After seventeen years with the same team, to say that Brees has established roots in the community is an understatement. Still, at age 39, the Saints will have to keep his next deal to a two-year factor, while also giving serious early round draft consideration to add youth to their quarterback room.
Brees counted just six million towards the 2017 team cap, but that number will increase greatly with his new deal. In September, 2015, the Saints converted $5.2 million of his salary into a bonus, creating $2.6 million in cap space for New Orleans. In September, 2016, he signed a one-year extension for $24.25 million.
Look for the veteran to secure at least a two-year contract that will average out to a little bit over the average for the top four quarterbacks in the league $24.5 million) and reach an agreement for at least $25 million per year, placing him in the Matthew Stafford (27 million per) and Derek Carr (25 million) range. I just do not see the Saints accepting a longer term due to Brees' age factor, though whispers say his representatives tosses out a five-year deal worth close to $121 million during initial talks.
Kurt Cousins-Minnesota Vikings...Yes, Cousins wants to play for a winner, but I am not buying into the "money doesn't matter" speeches he has given. The Jets, Cardinals and Broncos are all lining up to make their sales pitches, but Minnesota has at least $51 million in cap space, a promising running back in injured Dalvin Cook, great wide receiver options in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, a fine safety valve target in Kyle Rudolph and one of the top defenses in the game to keep opposing offenses honest.
With three quarterbacks - Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford - all looking for new homes, just waiver pick-up find, Kyle Sloter, remains at quarterback on Minnesota's current roster. No matter who signs Cousins, it will come with a hefty price tag. Cousins' camp is looking for thirty million dollars as a yearly average, but if there are higher guarantees, the price tag is expected to drop.
Our staff considers him an average quarterback - not a franchise type, but, to each his own. Most of our research places Cousins at $128.5 million for a five-year deal, giving him an average payout of 25.7 million, ahead of Derek Carr (25 million per), Andrew Luck (24.5 million) and Joe Flacco (22.1 million), leaving just Detroit's Matthew Stafford (27 million) as the only NFL quarterback with better take-home pay.
Case Keenum-Denver Broncos...Unless the Vikings fail to sign Kirk Cousins, Keenum is likely to be wearing a different uniform next year. Sure, the Broncos could latch on to Cousins, sending Keenum back to the Vikes as his other option, but the Broncos will be cash-strapped or have to gut the roster in future years to carry a $30 million per year number on the former Washington Redskin.
After earning a career-high $3.635 million from the Rams in 2016, Keenum accepted a $950K deal to become a Viking last season. When Sam Bradford went down in Week Two, a star was born in Minnesota. Keenum led the VBikes to the NFC title clash after he compiled an 11-3 record as a starter. He completed 67.6% of his passes (325-of-481) for 3,547 yards, 22 touchdiowns and just seven interceptions.
While some teams might be cautious in pursuing Keenum - based on Chicago's disaster after signing Mike Glennon - he could secure a four-year deal between $80-to-85 million for his services, placing him among the top fifteen contracts in the league. He might also be open to a three-year deal at an average of $20 million per, but only if at least 60% of that deal is guaranteed.
Even if he is signed by Denver, look for John Elway to still use a draft selection by Day Two to bring another quarterback into the fold. That would further encourage the GM to seek out New England for a possible Trevor Siemian swap. Elway will have to play Hennie Youngman in any attempt to find offers for Brock Oswieler or Paxton Lynch though (take my quarterback, please).
WHAT AN ARM IS WORTH IN THE NFL THESE DAYS
So, what are teams really paying these guys - whether they are the "Real McCoys" or just imposters trying to pretend they are NFL franchise quarterbacks? The chart below shows the 2018 average salaries teams will pay their starting quarterbacks. Coincidentally, the top sixteen salaries currently listed for the 2018 season belong to quarterbacks;
Rank Player Current Team Position 2018 Salary
1. Jimmy Garoppolo San Francisco 49ers Quarterback 27.500 million
2. Matthew Stafford Detroit Lions Quarterback 27.000 million
3. Derek Carr Oakland Raiders Quarterback 25.000 million
4. Andrew Luck Indianapolis Colts Quarterback 24.594 million
5. Drew Brees (FA) New Orleans Saints Quarterback 24.250 million
6. Alex Smith Washington Redskins Quarterback 23.500 million
7. Joe Flacco Baltimore Ravens Quarterback 22.133 million
8. Aaron Rodgers Green Bay Packers Quarterback 22.000 million
9. Russell Wilson Seattle Seahawks Quarterback 21.900 million
10. Ben Roethlisberger Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback 21.850 million
11. Eli Manning New York Giants Quarterback 21.000 million
12. Philip Rivers Los Angeles Chargers Quarterback 20.812 million
13. Cam Newton Carolina Panthers Quarterback 20.760 million
14. Matt Ryan Atlanta Falcons Quarterback 20.750 million
15. Tom Brady New England Patriots Quarterback 20.500 million
16. Ryan Tannehill Miami Dolphins Quarterback 19.250 million
17. Ndamukong Suh Miami Dolphins Defensive Tackle 19.062 million
18. Von Miller Denver Broncos Outside Linebacker 19.017 million
19. Blake Bortles Jacksonville Jaguars Quarterback 18.000 million
20. Fletcher Cox Philadelphia Eagles Defensive Tackle 17.100 million