A season and a half into the Carson Wentz era, the decision to identify Wentz as a franchise quarterback and then trade up for him continues to age well. Not only is Carson Wentz already playing great, but the opportunity to get one any time soon will be quite difficult.
For the first time since 2011-12, four QBs went in the first two rounds in back-to-back drafts in 2016-17, and at least four could go in 2018, which would be the first time in a decade that has happened. QBs are coming in bunches, and that means reaches are coming as well. Every year a handful of teams needs a QB, but there’s an additional rush coming. A generation of successful QBs are nearing the end of their careers, effectively doubling demand. A few established ones could hit the market and turn the landscape upside down depending on where they land. The need for QBs is going to greatly outpace the supply as none of these teams have viable backup plans waiting in the wings.
Some teams are riding out aging quarterbacks, and the end of the road is nearly here.
Carson Palmer is 37 and, despite a great game on Sunday, he’s not having a swan song season. The Cardinals were position to spend a little bit of draft capital to move up a couple of spots to take either Patrick Mahomes or DeShaun Watson in April to groom behind Palmer. Instead a team with an already good and young defense spent their first two picks on defense. They did talk themselves into Blaine Gabbert being a starter in the long term though.
The three QBs from the 2004 draft and their teams all face the same issue of if 2017 is their last year with their team, or even in the league.
Eli Manning and the Giants are having their worst season and will be in position to draft a QB high, they should hit the reboot button from top to bottom. They did take Davis Webb in the 3rd in 2017, but Webb is behind Geno Smith on the depth chart, he’s not a solution.
The Chargers also started in a winless hole that all but guarantees them good draft position. They haven’t drafted a QB since taking Brad Sorensen in the 7th round in 2013, and were in position to take a QB in April and didn’t, though they did trade a conditional pick to the Bills for Cardale Jones.
Ben Roethlisberger contemplated retirement in the offseason and is playing like a retired QB, as his passer rating is barely above Jay Cutler’s. Backup Landry Jones isn’t a long term solution and 2017 4th rounder Joshua Dobbs isn’t either.
Any of those teams could stick with their QB in 2018, but that won’t reduce their need to draft one. None of these veterans were Week 1 starters their rookie seasons, and their successors don’t have to be either. If their teams are going to ride out their QBs to the sunset, they should take advantage of the luxury of having them mentor the QB they’ll be passing the torch to.
Then there are the free agents to be.
The Redskins can’t franchise tag Kirk Cousins again. The only QB they’ve drafted since taking Cousins in the 4th round in 2012 was Nate Sudfeld, who is now on the Eagles practice squad. If Cousins doesn’t sign an extension with the Redskins, it’s assumed the 49ers will be his landing spot. If so, San Francisco, who passed on their pick of the 2017 QB litter in the draft, would be prime for another trade back for a QB, putting anyone that wants a QB in play.
Drew Brees is 38, not under contract for next year, and can not be franchise tagged due to a clause in his contract. The Saints might have turned a corner over the last few weeks, but all parties are going to have to make a hard decision about the future. Even if Brees returns, like his peers who are also approaching 40, taking a QB to groom makes sense.
Other teams need a new QB to take a step.
Tom Coughlin is not waiting around for a rebuild, if the Giants want to fully reboot the Jaguars would likely be interested in Eli Manning, who no longer has his brother blocking him from going to the AFC.
The Jets are surprisingly competitive despite their front office trying to tank. That could embolden them to move up in the draft if necessary and add a promising QB to a competitive rebuild. With an extra 2nd rounder this year they have some draft capital to spend.
Nobody has more draft capital to spent than the Bills, who own two picks in each of the first three rounds in 2018. Tyrod Taylor received a new contract in the offseason that shows they aren’t committed to him beyond next year. The Bills are in a somewhat envious situation where they can outbid teams in a trade and not feel the need to rush the QB onto the field.
Two coaching staffs in Denver deemed Paxton Lynch not good enough to unseat Trevor Siemian. Drafting two 1st round QBs in three years might sound crazy, but sticking with what they have again is no less insane.
And the Browns plan to eventually draft a QB in the 1st round might actually come to fruition.
That’s a lot of teams that need a young QB, and nowhere near enough QBs to go around. A few teams are going to lose out on musical chairs and wind up with Sam Bradford, or Alex Smith if he’s cut since the Chiefs also got out in front of the rush with Patrick Mahomes. Someone might talk themselves into Jimmy Garoppolo, and it might be the Patriots if 40 year old Tom Brady decides to retire.
The Eagles decision to get out in front of the crowd and get Carson Wentz has been a great one that will only look better at the end of the season.