2016 Free Agent Quarterbacks
Part two of my rankings of 2016 free agents looks at the quarterback position. Be sure to look over the first part, which covers the talented group of 2016 free agent running backs.[the_ad id=”58837″]As the most important player on the football field, quarterbacks are usually the highest paid members of their respective squads. Even backup signal-callers can earn handsome salaries in today’s offensive-led game.
The 2016 class of free agent passers is very underwhelming. A couple of talented starters near the top of these rankings are expected to re-sign or get franchise tagged. There won’t be a highly-coveted free agent quarterback that signs a lucrative deal with a new team this offseason.
For the QB’s, I’ve included players listed in italics that are almost certainly going to be released for salary cap or performance reasons, and included them in order.[supsystic-tables id=’5′] [the_ad id=”58919″]
After passing for 4166 yards and scoring 34 total touchdowns, former backup Kirk Cousins is about to like that first 2016 paycheck, which is going to be well over 10-times what his final 2015 salary paid. Cousins is extremely unlikely to hit the open market, as the Redskins have no quarterbacks under contract (Griffin will be cut) and Cousins looks like the clear-cut franchise signal-caller. It might make sense for Washington to franchise tag Cousins to ensure is 2015 breakout wasn’t a fluke, but doing so would boost his 2016 salary to $19.7M guaranteed.
Acquired from Houston for a sixth-round pick, veteran journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick had a career year for New York and is expected to sign a multi-year deal to stay with the Jets. Should he hit the market, Fitzpatrick could draw interest from a number of teams, but is unlikely to command a huge long term deal, or find a better supporting cast. The best case scenario for all, including fantasy fanatics, would be for Fitzy to re-sign with the Jets.
Brock Osweiler relieved Peyton Manning to good-to-mixed reviews. Manning won’t be back in Denver, and Osweiler, now with experience as a winning quarterback, is hitting the market at just the right time to command a solid three or four-year deal from the Broncos. Denver could franchise tag Osweiler by March 9th, but if he is allowed to hit the market, the 25-year-old could receive considerable interest from other clubs.
After tearing up the preseason, Sam Bradford ultimately had a disappointing 2015 campaign that ended up with him in limbo, and Chip Kelly fired. There’s little chance Bradford will be tagged in Philadelphia, and his 14-game run with the Eagles left doubts about his ability to be a franchise-caliber starter. With a limited number of potential openings, Bradford’s best bet might be to re-sign in Philly, but it will likely be for less than the he would earn on a one year franchise tag.
Johnny Manziel is going to find himself spiraling right out of the league with all the off-the-field trouble he’s causing. Not to mention Manziel’s play on the field has been woefully inadequate. It looks like Johnny Football will go down as yet another wasted first-round pick for the Browns, but may need some time away from the game to straighten out his life. Many people feel that Manziel has lived and enabled life that has prevented him from learning humility. Manziel seems to lack the understanding that his actions have consequences, while living his life as if he can manipulate and lie to others without fear of punishment- like he’s smarter than everyone else. Manziel will be cut from Cleveland, who will be on the hook for roughly $4M in salary and there’s a good chance he won’t be picked up by an NFL club until he can get his life off-the-field under control.
There is no chance the Broncos are paying Peyton Manning $21.5M next season. If he retires, as expected, or is cut, Denver would be hit with $2.5M in dead cap space, but would otherwise save $19.5M. Manning was hurt most of last season, but appears to have little arm strength left, and with a bad neck and ailing lower body making it impossible to get any power on his passes, there’s not much hope of another recovery. After somehow leading the Broncos to a Super Bowl title, it’s expected that Peyton Manning will go out on top and retire. Should he decide to play a final, age 40 season, Houston and Los Angeles have been linked as possible landing spots.
The Redskins can cut or trade Robert Griffin III before March 9th and take zero cap hit from RG3’s $16.5M 2016 salary. It’s a lock that Washington will do just that, and Griffin will become an interesting free agent target for many of the QB-needy teams out there. At 27, Griffin is entering his prime and will certainly warrant starting consideration. He might have to sign with a team that gives him a chance to win a camp battle, but Griffin showed tremendous upside as a rookie and could still be a quality option in the right scheme.
Chase Daniel hasn’t earned much playing time but appears to be a competent backup. He’s had three years each behind Drew Brees and Alex Smith.
It’s hard to believe that Colt McCoy will turn 30-years-old as the 2016 kicks off. He’s become a reliable backup who can come off the bench, show a spark and lead offenses for a limited time. McCoy won’t have any trouble landing a gig.
Matt Schaub is merely an aging backup who throws too many interceptions, but with the position thin of proven veteran talent, he’ll find a gig as a clipboard holder.
Tarvaris Jackson’s days as a starter are over. His best option is likely to re-sign with Seattle, but he could draw interest from a number of teams that need a veteran backing up a young, up-and-coming talent under center.
40-year-old Matt Hasselbeck got much more playing time in 2015 than expected and fared modestly. He’s still capable of leading an offense for a short period of time. The 17-year veteran may retire, but should he choose to hold the clipboard one last season, could interest clubs looking for a veteran backup to lead a rookie QB by example.