February 15, 2017
By Matt Magill
These are not team rankings per se, but they are rankings based on how confident I am in terms of the quarterback situation on each team. The quarterback, supporting cast and coaches all come into play. Go ahead, tell me I’m wrong!
These teams have no need to worry about the quarterback position (barring injury) and should look to improve their teams elsewhere.
(1) New England Patriots:
Starter: Tom Brady $20.5 million average through 2019
Backup(s): Jimmy Garoppolo $871,000 average through 2017;
Jacoby Brissett $856,000 average through 2019
Situation: Brady is showing no signs of slowing down, so no need to plan for his retirement just yet. The backups are more than capable of filling in as well, as they showed early last season.
What to do?: See what you can get for Garoppolo, and maybe draft another quarterback in the late rounds.
(2) Green Bay Packers:
Starter: Aaron Rodgers $22 million average through 2019
Backup(s): Brett Hundley $626,000 average through 2018
Situation: Rodgers is one of the best in the game, and he’s avoided a major injury as well.
What to do?: Stand pat and make the whole team better so Rodgers doesn’t have to work as many miracles next year.
(3) Atlanta Falcons:
Starter: Matt Ryan $20.75 million through 2018
Backup(s): Matt Schaub $2.75 million through 2016
Situation: The NFL MVP had a career year last year. He’s been pretty consistent throughout his entire career and should continue that as the years go on. Ryan is also due for another big contract in the next year or two.
What to do?: Involve Matt Ryan in finding the new offensive coordinator to ensure he stays on target.
(4) Oakland Raiders:
Starter: Derek Carr $1.3 million average through 2017
Backup(s): Connor Cook $740,000 average through 2019
Matt McGloin $2.5 million through 2016
Situation: Carr is going to get paid significantly this offseason, and he’s earned it.
What to do?: Continue to build around Carr.
(5) Dallas Cowboys:
Starter: Dak Prescott $681,000 average through 2020
Backup(s): Tony Romo $18 million average through 2020;
Mark Sanchez $2 million through 2016;
Kellen Moore $710,000 through 2016
Situation: The Cowboys are set for the future with Rookie of the year Prescott as their starter. They just need to make sure he doesn’t go backwards in terms of his ability in his second season.
What to do?: Find a capable backup, as Romo will be moved in the offseason while Sanchez and Moore will have reached the end of their contract. I would expect one of those two to be back next year.
(6) Indianapolis Colts:
Starter: Andrew Luck $25 million average through 2021
Backup(s): Scott Tolzien $ 1.8 million average through 2017
Situation: The Colts need everything but a quarterback at this point. They’re unfortunately wasting the prime of one of the better young quarterbacks in the league.
What to do?: Do whatever it takes to get better in a hurry and protect your multi-million dollar investment.
(7) Los Angeles Chargers:
Starter: Philip Rivers $20.8 million average through 2019
Backup(s): Kellen Clemens $1 million through 2016
Situation: Rivers is nearing the end of a great career. The Chargers need to do anything they can to make sure that his last few years aren’t wasted.
What to do?: Staying healthy is key for a Chargers team that played better than they should have last year with everyone injured.
(8) Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Starter: Jameis Winston $6.3 million average through 2018
Backup(s): Mike Glennon $776,000 through 2016
Ryan Griffin $550,000 through 2016
Situation: Winston certainly looks like the future at that position in Tampa.
What to do?: Figure out the running back position and offensive line. Maybe find a good #2 wide receiver.
(9) Detroit Lions:
Starter: Matthew Stafford $17.6 million average through 2017
Backup(s): Dan Orlovsky $1 million through 2016
Situation: Stafford upped his game last year and should be in for a big payday if not this offseason, than certainly next.
What to do?: Continue to find pieces to play alongside Stafford, including a running game. Signing him to a new contract this offseason might be a good idea if Detroit can afford it.
(10) Tennessee Titans:
Starter: Marcus Mariota $6 million average through 2018
Backup(s): Matt Cassel $2 million through 2016
Situation: Mariota should be back from his broken leg next year with no issues (finger crossed) and showed a lot of growth between years one and two. The Titans look stacked on offense for years to come.
What to do?: Settle up the backup situation and look for receivers for Mariota to throw to.
(11) Philadelphia Eagles:
Starter: Carson Wentz $6.7 million average through 2020
Backup(s): Chase Daniel $7 million average through 2018
Situation: Wentz is the guy for the foreseeable future, and has actually proven that with his play on the field. Another year in this offense and a capable receiver or two will do wonders.
What to do?: Build around Wentz and watch the successes start to mount.
(12) Pittsburgh Steelers:
Starter: Ben Roethlisberger $21.9 million average through 2019
Backup(s): Landry Jones $650,000 through 2016;
Zach Mettenberger $586,000 average through 2017
Situation: Big Ben is getting older and injuries are starting to become commonplace. It may be time to start thinking about his eventual successor.
What to do?: Hope Roethlisberger can hold up for another year or two while you draft and groom a guy, unless Landry Jones is the future…which is looking highly unlikely.
(13) Carolina Panthers:
Starter: Cam Newton $20.76 million average through 2020
Backup(s): Derek Anderson $2.35 million average through 2017
Joe Webb $930,000 average through 2017
Situation: Cam had a down year, but he’s still the guy in Carolina.
What to do?: Build up around Newton to maximize the next few years of his contract. All skill positions are on the table for an upgrade.
(14) Seattle Seahawks:
Starter: Russell Wilson $21.9 million average through 2019
Backup(s): Trevone Boykin $545,000 average through 2018
Situation: Wilson is solidly the guy in Seattle.
What to do?: Figure out if CJ Prosise is the guy, and for the love of all things 12th man, get an offensive line.
(15) Baltimore Ravens:
Starter: Joe Flacco $22.1 million average through 2021
Backup(s): Ryan Mallett $816,000 through 2016
Situation: Flacco is still riding the Super Bowl MVP contract he secured. He’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
What to do?: Build around Flacco with young skill position players to maximize the end of his contract.
(16) Cincinnati Bengals:
Starter: Andy Dalton $16 million through 2020
Backup(s): Jeff Driskel $613,000 average through 2019;
A.J. McCarron $600,000 through 2017
Situation: Dalton can’t be blamed for the mess that was the Bengals last year, but he needs to elevate those around him. He’s a decent quarterback on a snake-bit team.
What to do?: See if you can get anything for McCarron and try to reshape the culture of the Bengals so they stop shooting themselves in the foot year after year.
(17) New Orleans Saints:
Starter: Drew Brees $24.25 million average through 2017
Backup(s): Luke McCown $1.5 million through 2017
Situation: Brees doesn’t have a lot of time left, but he’s still a quality starter every time he touches the field.
What to do?: Whether it’s at the end of this contract or the end of the next, Brees will be wrapping up a stellar career soon. New Orleans needs to start looking for his replacement in the draft in the the next two years.
(18) New York Giants:
Starter: Eli Manning $21 million average through 2020
Backup(s): Ryan Nassib $653,000 through 2016;
Josh Johnson $885,000 through 2016
Situation: Manning is still a solid starter, but his skill-set is declining as he nears the end of his career. It’s time to start looking for his heir-apparent.
What to do?: Find a backup quarterback that can take over for Eli when his time ends in New York.
(19) Washington Redskins:
Starter: Kirk Cousins $20 million through 2016
Backup(s): Colt McCoy $3 million average through 2018;
Nate Sudfeld $619,000 average through 2019
Situation: Cousins is looking at another year under the franchise tag if he doesn’t come to terms on a long-term deal. It’s in Washington’s best interest to keep him around as any team out there that doesn’t have an established veteran will look to scoop him up.
What to do?: Pay Cousins his money.
(20) Minnesota Vikings:
Starter: Sam Bradford $17.5 million through 2017
Backup(s): Teddy Bridgewater $1.7 million through 2017 (injured)
Shaun Hill $3.25 million through 2016
Taylor Heinicke $528,000 average through 2017
Situation: Between Bradford and Bridgewater, they should have a viable starter going in to next year. Their main concern is fortifying the offensive line so that starter stays upright.
What to do?: Make sure either Bradford or Bridgewater makes it through the season unharmed.
(21) Los Angeles Rams:
Starter: Jared Goff $7 million average through 2020
Backup(s): Case Keenum $3.6 million through 2016
Sean Mannion $813,000 average through 2018
Situation: LA is kind of stuck with Goff for now, but it is going to be the job of the new coaching staff to determine if he’s the future.
What to do?: Build around Goff like he’s the guy, giving him every opportunity to succeed, and be ready to move in a new direction if he falters.
Looking for an Upgrade:
These teams could stand to upgrade the quarterback position. Some more than others, but that’s why they’re ranked!
(22) Kansas City Chiefs:
Starter: Alex Smith $17 million average through 2018
Backup(s): Tyler Bray $963,000 average through 2017
Nick Foles $1.75 million average through 2017
Situation: Smith is a good starter but does not look like he’s good enough to get the Chiefs over the hump.
What to do?: If there’s a quality starter out there that you can safely say is an upgrade over Alex Smith, grab him. Otherwise, it might be prudent to start planning for the future.
(23) Miami Dolphins:
Starter: Ryan Tannehill $19 million average through 2020
Backup(s): Matt Moore $1.8 million average through 2017
Situation: Matt Moore showed a lot of guts in the playoffs, and Tannehill has been playing serviceably at the position, but Miami is not good enough everywhere else for Tannehill to be just serviceable.
What to do?: Keep an eye on the draft and maybe get a developmental guy in the later rounds. Tannehill has a few years left on his contract, and at this point he hasn’t earned another.
(24) Denver Broncos:
Starter: Trevor Siemian $583,000 average through 2018
Backup(s): Paxton Lynch $2.4 million average through 2020
Austin Davis $1.25 million through 2016
Situation: It’s entirely possible that the Lynch/Siemian combo will yield a starting quarterback for the Broncos. It’s also possible that John Elway will pick up Tony Romo to make one more Super Bowl run with this great defense before they get too old.
What to do?: Much like Houston will do, give the guys on the roster the opportunity to win the job, but don’t waste a good team on poor quarterback play.
(25) Arizona Cardinals:
Starter: Carson Palmer $24.35 million through 2018
Backup(s): Drew Stanton $3.25 million through 2017
Situation: I’m just not sure how much Palmer has left n the tank.
What to do?: This team is built to win now, I just don’t know if it’s with Palmer or not. They definitely need to start planning for the future, but another year like Palmer had in 2015 could have Arizona back in Super Bowl contention.
(26) Houston Texans:
Starter: Brock Osweiller $18 million average through 2019
Backup(s): Brandon Weeden $2 million average through 2017
Tom Savage $630,000 average through 2017
Situation: There’s a good chance that the long term answer at quarterback for the Texans is not on the roster at the moment.
What to do?: Osweiller has not shown he’s the guy, but he’s being paid like the guy this year. Give him one more to make his mark, but don’t be afraid to pull the trigger on a veteran to maximize the rest of your team’s potential.
(27) Jacksonville Jaguars:
Starter: Blake Bortles $5.2 million average through 2017
Backup(s): Chad Henne $4 million average through 2017
Brandon Allen $616,000 average through 2019
Situation: It’s make or break time for Bortles, who took a major step back in 2016.
What to do?: Draft a replacement for Bortles. It will either light a fire in him, or he will be overtaken for the job. Either way will work for the Jags.
(28) New York Jets:
Starter: Ryan Fitzpatrick $12 million through 2016
Backup(s): Geno Smith $1.3 million through 2016;
Christian Hackenberg $1.2 million average through 2019;
Bryce Petty $708,000 average through 2018
Situation: Hackenberg and Petty aren’t ready for primetime. Fitz and Geno are gone.
What to do?: Pick up a veteran to steward the ship until the young guys are ready. Don’t be afraid to take yet another quarterback in the draft.
These teams need quarterback help as a first priority, either through the draft or free agency, it doesn’t matter. Just get these poor bastards a quarterback.
(29) Buffalo Bills:
Starter: Tyrod Taylor $18 million average through 2021
Backup(s): EJ Manuel $2.2 million through 2016;
Cardale Jones $681,000 through 2019
Situation: Taylor is actually a pretty good quarterback, but will most likely not be on the roster next year. The Bills will need a major upgrade at the position as Manuel is a bust and Cardale Jones is a huge question mark.
What to do?: With the tenth pick in the draft, the Bills could use it on a quarterback, but in a weak draft class at the position, is it wise? They need to fix that position quickly or else guys like Shady McCoy and Sammy Watkins will be old and ineffective by the time they get a quality quarterback in Buffalo.
(30) Chicago Bears:
Starter: Jay Cutler $18.1 million average through 2020
Backup(s): Brian Hoyer $2 million through 2016
Connor Shaw $512,000 through 2016
Matt Barkley $600,000 through 2016
Situation: Chicago is a team that could be trending in the right direction as long as they get some competent quarterback play. They didn’t really have that in 2016.
What to do?: A veteran presence (that’s not Jay Cutler) could go a long way in the Bears locker room. They had better find someone so they can manage a respectable season, or John Fox may not be around to draft a quarterback next year.
(31) Cleveland Browns:
Backup(s): Robert Griffin III $7.5 million average through 2017;
Josh McCown $4.7 million average through 2017;
Cody Kessler $847,000 average through 2019;
Joe Callahan $540,000 average through 2018;
Kevin Hogan $450,000 through 2016
Situation: Who knows who will be starting under center for the Browns this year. As many guys as they had start in 2016, no one separated themselves from the pack.
What to do?: It may be prudent to wait a year on the quarterback front unless someone really jumps out. Build up the offensive line and make sure your new quarterback…whoever it is…has some protection when he gets there.
(32) San Francisco 49ers:
Starter: Colin Kaepernick $19 million average through 2017
Backup(s): Blaine Gabbert $2 million through 2016
Christian Ponder $800,000 through 2016
Thaddeus Lewis $760,000 through 2016
Situation: With Kaepernick opting out of his contract, it leaves a void at quarterback. If Kyle Shanahan can make any of the current crop of wannabees work, he’s coach of the year.
What to do?: Draft a quarterback and build from the ground up. It’s all Shanahan and new GM John Lynch can hope to do.