Every year, a cluster of NFL teams tries in vain to upgrade at the quarterback position. In many cases, they’re required to roll the dice on a draft pick. This year, an unprecedented glut of quarterbacks with NFL experience may arise.
Here’s a full list of all veteran quarterbacks who may be available, with a quick explanation as to why they could be available.
And, yes, there are 20 of them.
Tyrod Taylor, Bills: The contract he signed earlier this year gave him a significant raise for 2016. It also gave the team an easy exit for 2017. If the Bills change coaches, will the successor to Rex Ryan want to commit $27.5 million to Taylor? Maybe, maybe not. If not, he’ll be released.
Jimmy Garoppolo, Patriots: The Pats will face the Chandler Jones/Jamie Collins conundrum with Garoppolo in 2017. Do they keep him for the final year of his deal and allow his departure to factor in to the compensatory draft picks for 2019, or do they trade him for whatever they could get one or two years sooner? With Jacoby Brissett looking the part, don’t be shocked if the Pats part ways with Garoppolo.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jets: No one may want him (especially not as a starter), but he’ll be available. For obvious reasons.
Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins: The Dolphins have a $14.475 million decision to make on Tannehill in March. Earlier this year, it was a toss-up. Now, barring a meltdown, it’s a no-brainer. He’ll be a Dolphin.
A.J. McCarron, Bengals: Signed through 2017, the Bengals have to decide (like the Patriots do) whether to trade McCarron in 2017 or keep him for another year, let him walk in free agency, and get a compensatory pick in 2019.
Robert Griffin III, Browns: The perpetually injured, but now healthy, Griffin may get a chance to audition for his next job before the season ends. With supply matching demand (for a change), Griffin may have to accept a backup role in order to continue his career.
Josh McCown, Browns: He’s under contract for another year, but the Browns may decide there’s no spot for him on a potentially revamped depth chart. He has nevertheless proven to be a steadying presence for a team that needs a positive influence, and his staying power in pro football has been remarkable.
Landry Jones, Steelers: The looming free agent has some starting experience, and he has shown some flashes of ability.
Blake Bortles, Jaguars: The slumping would-be franchise quarterback could be looking for a new franchise if the next coaching staff in Jacksonville decides to look elsewhere. The real question is whether the Jaguars will sign him to a long-term deal after the season or, if not, whether they’ll pick up what would be a very sizable option for 2018. Absent either, a trade could be on the horizon — if anyone want to trade for him at this point.
Alex Smith, Chiefs: Will the Chiefs decide, given the various options on the market, to move on from Smith? Plenty of Kansas City fans will wish they would, given the perception that he has taken the team as far as he can.
Nick Foles, Chiefs: Technically signed through 2017, his contract balloons to eight figures next year. Which means that he’ll likely be cut, if his deal isn’t renegotiated. His best bet could be to stick around in Kansas City with the man who drafted him back when they both were with the Eagles in 2012.
Trevor Siemian, Broncos: If the Broncos decide either to give the job to Paxton Lynch or to sign or trade for someone else, they’d have to decide whether to bench Siemian for the third year of his four-year rookie deal or move on. They’d likely keep him, unless someone else makes the Broncos an offer they can’t refuse.
Tony Romo, Cowboys: If it wasn’t clear when he publicly surrendered the job to Dak Prescott 10 days ago, the last two games should make it obvious that Dak is the guy, indefinitely. Which means Romo will definitely be out. At $14 million for 2017, his contract is easily tradeable. The challenge will be setting the right compensation so that the team that trades for Romo is protected against another serious injury, and so that the Cowboys are protected against Romo playing 16 regular-season games.
Kirk Cousins, Washington: The team has three choices for Cousins, none of which are good. They can tag him at $23.94 million for 2017, sign him to a long-term deal with the tag amount for 2017 as the starting point, or let the market set his value. The problem with letting the market set his value is that he could then choose to sign with a new team on the open market, Brock Osweiler style.
Jay Cutler, Bears: Due to make only $12.5 million next year, Cutler becomes a bargain in 2017. Which means that the Bears should consider keeping him, unless they have an alternative that would represent a clear upgrade. Also, what if John Fox is fired and, say, Kyle Shanahan get the job? Kyle’s father drafted Cutler nearly 11 years ago.
Sam Bradford, Vikings: With a $4 million roster bonus due in March and a $13 million salary for 2017, the Vikings have a decision to make on Bradford. Their choice will depend upon Teddy Bridgewater’s health and prognosis. The team’s other options also will be a factor. Bradford could be traded for a third straight year — or cut outright.
Mike Glennon, Buccaneers: A free agent in 2017, Glennon made 18 starts in the two seasons before Jameis Winston arrived. Glennon’s 30 career touchdown passes against 15 interceptions surely will attract someone’s attention.
Carson Palmer, Cardinals: If the Cardinals find an upgrade, Palmer could be thrown overboard. Also, don’t rule out the possibility of Palmer quitting on the Cardinals. He’s done it both to the Bengals and the Raiders.
Case Keenum, Rams: Benched for Jared Goff and due to hit the open market, the question becomes whether a team will blame the problems with the team’s offense on Keenum, on the absence of talent around him, or on coaching.
Colin Kaepernick, 49ers: The Broncos tried to trade for him in March, but Kaepernick wasn’t willing to significantly cut his guaranteed salary. The market will be soft for Kaepernick in 2017, especially since plenty of owners will be inclined to shy away from Kaepernick due to his anthem protests — and will be able to do it because of the other options at the position.