So the Miami Dolphins need a QB — oh! And the Cincinnati Bengals too, assuming they do not want to keep Andy Dalton after his sparkling return from the bench against the New York Jets.
But what happens next?
As is often the case during the NFL draft cycle, teams quite literally cycle in and out of quarterback possibility as their middling starters, developmental backups and journeymen veterans plant them weirdly in the middle teens of the draft order. The season has seen teams like the Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Chargers all enter the conversation at times, but I have omitted those three teams because Kirk Cousins is suddenly great, Drew Brees is still great and will likely return and Philip Rivers is washed but will likely return anyway.
But the rest of the middle-dwellers? There are many QB-related decisions to be made, and they have to be made soon as the final games dwindle away in the 2019 NFL season. The bows will be put on pro evaluations, and if it is time for new blood at the quarterback position, it is time to trade up.
So who is the best candidate for attacking the coveted role outside of the clear top-five options? I went team-by-team to take a look.
This one feels like an unequivocal yes, huh? And it certainly is. At this stage through his three-year career, it is painfully clear that Mitch Trubisky is not going to be powering a team through the playoffs, let alone into a Super Bowl victory.
But let’s quickly remember Trubisky was heavily-bet for the league MVP — this offseason. So while it is near the end of the Trubisky era in Chicago this year, we did not quite realize that until the past month or two.
What we have known for a while is that the Chicago Bears would be picking in the middle of the first round if not for the Khalil Mack trade but because of that, they are in one of the weakest positions. Chicago is one of the strongest candidates to draft a QB this year but falling down the board would continue to compromise their youth. This is one of the reasons why the Bears are such a strong candidate for a Cam Newton trade. It would not cost as much as trading up into the first round, and they seem ready to compete now.
Moral of the story: This team needs a QB.
Best fit: Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma
Remember when Mason Rudolph was a good quarterback? When he was the future?
Well, a duck-caller just passed him for the starting job and beat a key divisional rival to stay at the top of the wild card race. This is the era of Devlin Hodges.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are in a mighty tricky spot: no first-rounder, no third-rounder and they might make the playoffs with Hodges as the starter. Now, it is unlikely they go far with Hodges as the QB, but if they once again clear .500 under Mike Tomlin, with Ben Roethlisberger returning healthy, it is highly unlikely they select any passers in the draft. So now it is a development game. Can your offensive coaching staff get UDFA Hodges into a position to take over this team in — or earlier? It is a tough task, but Hodges has the tools.
They will pass, in large part due to context, if they had the picks, I think they would consider moving for one.
Best fit: Steven Montez, Colorado
Welp, the Jacksonville Jaguars are backing Minshew Mania once again after sitting Nick Foles following some uninspiring starts. We need to see what Gardner Minshew does in the final quarter of the season here, but I would say, stronger than on any team considering a quarterback so far, they should sit and ride with what they’ve got.
Best fit: Anthony Gordon, Washington State (buddies!)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I don’t know if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should move on from their current QB in Jameis Winston, but I believe that they should and have for a bit. Winston is not stringing together enough consistently good performances to power an offense to the Super Bowl. Really, his future is conditional on the Bruce Arians/Jason Licht relationship, and what they plan to do moving forward — Licht was extended after the Arians hire and they are a package deal moving forward for the Buccaneers.
Licht was obviously around for the Winston selection ... Arians was not.
He knew what he was signing up for with Winston, he tried to develop him. But what contract are you giving Winston to keep him around? Do you want to pay him any real money in the hopes that his sixth pro season is better than the previous five?
The Buccaneers should draft a new quarterback, but they very well may elect not to.
Best fit: Jacob Eason, Washington
Ooh, that Kyle Allen month was fun, wasn’t it? But the shine is wearing off following a loss to the Washington Redskins — that is inevitable.
Allen’s been rough for weeks, as a matter of fact. Even when he was playing well, he was a game-managing, quick pass artist who did not have much ability to elevate the offense beyond what was opened for him. And also, he was very, very lucky in terms of turnovers.
The Carolina Panthers are an easy one. With Will Grier unable to see the field in significant capacity this year, and with Allen clearly not the future, the Panthers really should consider looking at a quarterback early in the draft. Or, you know, retaining Newton.
Best fit: Justin Herbert, Oregon
Well hello, Ryan!
A healthy Ryan Tannehill is fun Ryan Tannehill, as I have always and often said. His flashes in Miami were always exciting, though the conditions were never conducive to consistent play (looking at you, Adam Gase), and shaky health precluded him from stringing together starter-caliber play.
Now, six games as the Tennessee Titans’ starter does not a career turnaround make, but he has thrown 12 touchdowns to three interceptions and completed over 70 percent of his passes. He is also averaging almost 10 yards per attempt! And has three rushing touchdowns to boot!
This is a good Tannehill, but is he a trustworthy Tannehill? Because the Titans knocked the 2020 contract year off his deal when he was traded from Miami, Tannehill is approaching free agency. However, if the Titans make the playoffs — and I would say it is between Tennessee and Pittsburgh for the sixth seed — they will almost undoubtedly attempt to keep Tannehill in the building. I think the roster is strong in general but could use another star target on offense.
I would not fault the Titans if they moved on — but I will understand it if they don’t.
Best fit: Jordan Love, Utah State