NFL Free Agency

The Murky Blue Waters of NFL Free Agency: QUARTERBACKS EDITION

Quarterbacks and 2020 NFL Free Agency

I’ve shaken a slightly cracked and leaky Magic 8 Ball to determine the fate of the top free agent quarterbacks in this years NFL Free Agency and the results are…interesting.

“Should Tom Brady retire?”
Magic 8-Ball says: REPLY HAZY, TRY AGAIN…

There are plenty of excuses that New England fans can make. There are also plenty of other places to point at if you’re looking for a scapegoat, but in the end, the Patriots were one and done in the playoffs because Tom Brady folded like origami against Miami to lose control of the number two seed, and then couldn’t handle playing from behind against Tennessee. It’s telling to me that both of these teams were coached by former Patriots staffers, but watching the tape, it’s clear that Brady just isn’t the passer he was even last season.

Sure, it’s tough to deal with the loss of Gronk, and the rotating door at wide receiver, but the biggest reason for Brady’s long run of success is that it never mattered who he was throwing to. If Brady is to return, or play anywhere else, he will need a monster running back and offensive line that can make him a situational passer that thrives with play action again. I’m not sure that New England can cobble together enough pieces to keep him happy.

“Assuming he plays, does he stay in New England?”
Magic 8-Ball says: BETTER NOT TO TELL YOU NOW…

I know there are all sorts of places that Brady could theoretically end up. But here’s the thing. Guy is forty-three and coming off a seriously sub-par season. Yes, he threw for a shade over 4,000 yards, but his completion percentage dipped three points below his career average to 60.8%. That dip is the difference between winning in the playoffs and losing, and some of his throws, especially late in the season were flat out misses. I just don’t see too many teams that are going to pay top of the market money for a past his prime Brady. The closest I could see is the Raiders. And it would be vindictive.

Bear with me, now.

We all know that the Raiders blame the Tuck Rule, and thus Brady for “robbing them” of a Super Bowl. We also know that in their new home in Las Vegas, they will be very dependent on tourist fans from visiting teams to fill the stadium. Can you imagine a better draw for a mediocre/sub par team like the Raiders than the opportunity to see your team exact revenge on the league’s most hated man?

Watch your defense get shot after shot at old man Brady as the offensive line collapses?

See your team run up the score against the guy that caused heartbreak after heartbreak for the AFC for two decades?

It would be like printing money. And it would be a morose ending to Brady’s career in professional football. If he’s wise, he’ll stay put.

“Will Jameis Winston remain in Tampa Bay? Magic 8-Ball says: OUTLOOK NOT SO GOOD!

Jameis Winston was an infuriating quarterback this season. He led all passers with 5109 yards. He averaged more yards per attempt than all but four starters in the league (Mahomes, Garoppolo, Tannehill and Stafford), and threw more touchdowns than everyone but Lamar Jackson. Sounds like a recipe for a franchise quarterback, right?

Wrong.

Winston is on the hottest of seats after also leading the league with a catastrophic thirty interceptions this season. Thirty. That’s more interceptions in a season than every NFL quarterback in history, save six. And none of those guys are in the modern era. The most recent guy to throw that many interceptions was Vinny Testaverde in 1988, when he was the QB of the…wait for it…Buccaneers.

Winston, however, just did something he probably should have done a long time ago. He got Lasik surgery. You see (pun intended), Winston wears contacts, but won’t wear them while playing. So, he essentially (this is not even a joke) throws the ball at the blur that appears to be the correct color…

Yeah.

Bruce Arians has made no bones about Winston being replaceable, and the Buccs are interested in everyone from Tedy Bridgewater and Philip Rivers to Tom Brady (TB12…get it?). The 2013 Heisman winner went first overall in the 2015 draft, but it looks (groan… I know) like he’ll be under center somewhere else next season.

Tedy Bridgewater was a great second stringer in New Orleans, can he be a starter again? Magic 8-Ball says: OUTLOOK GOOD!

For some reason, the Saints really want to pass the torch to the older and less-accurate Taysom Hill, who is an interesting piece, but frankly, nowhere near the quarterback Bridgewater is.

Hill’s versatility is a weapon in itself, I get that, and if the Saints really want to go that way, Bridgewater will become someone else’s franchise quarterback. If Tom Brady jumps ship in free agency, New England could do far, far worse than replacing him with the quarterback who would still be under center for Minnesota if he hadn’t had a career-threatening injury. It might not be New England, but Bridgewater will find a home somewhere as a starter.

Will Philip Rivers finally win a Super Bowl?
Magic 8-Ball says: DON’T COUNT ON IT!

Philip Rivers is now thirty-eight years old, and despite a fairly solid 2019 season, he’s not in much demand on the open market.

Rivers threw 20 interceptions this season, eight more than last season, while throwing nine fewer touchdowns. His 4615 passing yards were solidly in the top five passers this year, but a shakier than expected ground game, fueled by Melvin Gordon’s holdout, forced the issue.

It’s the same issue with Tom Brady. I just can’t see Rivers heading to a team that’s only one piece away (Chicago?) and hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. I think it’s far more likely that Rivers signs on a one-year deal with the highest bidder. I mean, he’s got nine kids to feed. Seriously.

For more thoughts and opinions from Tom, check out his author page.

Image Source: AP Images

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