The Denver Broncos have a shiny new Super Bowl trophy, but they also have a very big headache looming at quarterback. Peyton Manning will likely retire, and in the unlikely event he doesn't the team needs to decide if they still want to pay him. Presumptive future starter Brock Osweiler is a free agent who will be in real demand, too. No matter what, then, the team will likely be in the market for at least a backup. Tense times loom for John Elway.
The Broncos aren't alone, though. Far from it. The Eagles are likely to move on from free agent Sam Bradford and need a new starter. Cleveland needs anyone with a pulse to start. The Rams and Texans have free agents to deal with and are likely looking for an upgrade at starter. The Jets and Redskins are probably really happy with their starting options, but Ryan Fitzpatrick and Kirk Cousins are both free agents, so those teams have big and expensive work to do. And then there are teams with backup needs - the Ravens, Saints, Cowboys, Colts, and Chiefs are among the many teams that would like to upgrade their backup position and potentially find their QB of the future.
There are a lot of viable options out there - and I am assuming that neither Fitzpatrick nor Cousins will make the open market. Here's a look at the best of what is likely available:
Brock Osweiler: Osweiler rarely managed to put a strong effort forward for a full game in his starts this year for Denver, but he put forward more than a lot of people expected from him. He may not turn into a superstar - I bet he won't - but he is a viable starter as a bridge at the very least, and he will make himself a lot of money. He's more likely to leave Denver than stay if money matters to him because the Broncos have serious cap woes that will limit his earning potential. The chance to start if Manning leaves might convince him to offer a discount, though.
Chase Daniel: Daniel has now been a backup in New Orleans and Kansas City - three years in each city. He has only 77 career passing attempts, so he isn't proven, but many people think highly of him. He'll be in demand. Philadelphia could be one fit as former Kansas City offensive coordinator Doug Pederson is the new sheriff in that town.
Sam Bradford: Bradford was a disaster in Philadelphia, and he wasn't great much of his time in St. Louis, either. He's a former No. 1 pick, so there is obvious talent, but it would take a big leap of faith and a fair bit of desperation for a team to rely heavily on him now. On the plus side, at this point he'll come at a relative bargain price.
Robert Griffin III: Griffin still has a year left on his contract at a hefty cap hit, but the Redskins are very likely to cut him loose - especially if and when they step up and pay Cousins big money. Griffin was horrible, and now he's rusty. His rookie season showed a lot of promise, though, before things went off the rails. At the right price - a low one - a team surely will gamble on him as a reclamation project. Dallas is the most commonly-discussed destination, and it makes sense on some levels.
Nick Foles: Sam Bradford has one thing going for him - he wasn't the most disappointing part of the trade that brought him to Philadelphia. Foles was awful in St. Louis, and it seems increasingly like his one good year was a fluke. At the right price, though, he'll get another chance - though not likely as a starter.
Johnny Manziel: He'll be available. He'll be cheap. I don't see any team going there, though. Just not worth it right now.
In the draft
Jared Goff, Cal: The first of three quarterbacks that are likely to go in the first round, Goff is currently the guy most have pegged to be off the board first. He's polished, has a missile for an arm, and has experience playing in a pretty tough conference - almost always as an underdog. He looks the part, and he should be ready to start fairly quickly.
Carson Wentz, North Dakota State: Wentz has played against a weaker level of competition but has won two straight FCS National Championships and was MVP in both finals. He measures up very well - similar to Goff in most ways - and has the cold weather experience that could make him attractive to northern teams.
Paxton Lynch, Memphis: Lynch is huge, and his arm is excellent. He put up big numbers this year, too. You could criticize his consistency and his accuracy - and that's why he would likely to be the third QB off the board if the draft were today - but in the right situation he could be a starter now and a potential star down the road.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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