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An Early Look at the Potential Free Agent Quarterback Market

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Washington Redskins v New York Giants Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images

As is usually the case during a Jets offseason, quarterback is going to be the hot topic among fans, writers, and anybody who is talking Jets these next few months. It’s the most important position in sports and the Jets have arguably the biggest hole there in the league. Which way will they go? Can they finally fix an issue that has lingered for decades?

With the 6th pick in the draft, three picks in the first two rounds, and gobs of cap space, Mike Maccagnan and the Jets have the ammunition to take a very big shot at the signal caller of their choice. Landing this shot could set them up for success fans have been starving for. Missing it could set them back even further and put the team in danger of entering a historically awful playoff drought.

With all of that, let’s take a quick look at some of the passers that could enter the 2018 free agency market.

The ages listed are as of September 2018.

DREW BREES, SAINTS, 39 - 72.0% completions, 4334 yards, 23 TD, 8 INT, 8.1 Y/A, 11.2 Y/C, 103.9 rating

As of right now it would be an absolute shock if in 2018 Brees suited up in any color scheme but black and gold.

KIRK COUSINS, REDSKINS, 30 - 64.3% comp., 4093 yards, 27 TD, 13 INT, 7.6 Y/A, 11.8 Y/C, 93.9 rating

The hottest name that could realistically hit the market, and perhaps the most debated name among Jets fans now and for the next few months. Since becoming the Redskins’ primary starter in 2015, Cousins has the 6th highest quarterback rating in the league, just a hair away from 3rd. We’ll see how things shake out regarding his situation with Washington, but the fact is that it’s very rare a quarterback of this quality hits the free agent market. The Jets should be all over him if he becomes available.

SAM BRADFORD, 30, VIKINGS - 74.4% comp., 382 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT, 8.9 Y/A, 11.9 Y/C, 124.4 rating

Bradford put up very impressive numbers in his 17 starts as the Vikings quarterback, with only two of those coming in 2017 before he went down due to injury. He owns a 101.1 rating as a Viking, with 23 TD to 5 INT. Do take note that in 2016, Bradford averaged only 9.8 yards per completion, an astoundingly low number that signifies his possible over-reliance on the skill positions.

Bradford has only had two full 16 game seasons in his 8-year career. He’s missed at least 6 games four times. Bradford might have developed into a perfectly average game manager at this point of his career, but there is too much injury risk for a big-time investment.

TEDDY BRIDGEWATER, 25, VIKINGS - (2015) 65.3% comp., 3231 yards, 14 TD, 9 INT, 7.2 Y/A, 11.1 Y/C, 88.7 rating

Bridgewater has a bit of intrigue. There’s obviously a lot of risk that comes with a player who hasn’t started since 2015, but he is still very young and was a high draft choice who did showcase some upside when at the helm for Minnesota. His injury question marks could make him a good value option.

TYROD TAYLOR, 29, BILLS - 62.6% comp., 2799 yards, 14 TD, 4 INT, 6.7 Y/A, 10.6 Y/C, 89.2 rating

Taylor is set to count over $18M on the Bills’ cap next year. They can save over $9M by cutting him. With the Bills clearly showing their will to overhaul under the new regime, and after he was benched midseason for a clearly unready quarterback, this seems very possible.

Taylor is as talented of a runner at quarterback as there is in the NFL. He also avoids the interception as well as anybody, another asset. However, those two things are what make him the very definition of “game manager.” He is just not a consistently productive passer, with many of those issues stemming from poor reading of the field and overly conservative decision-making. Taylor would be an upgrade for a lot of teams, but he hasn’t proven he can carry a franchise.

OTHER INTERESTING POTENTIAL NAMES ON THE MARKET

Alex Smith, Chiefs - I’ll list Smith here because of his potential to hit the trade market, but it seems very unlikely he actually becomes a free agent. KC is going to try to trade him. They want to move on to Pat Mahomes, but Smith is too good to be cut for nothing. Somebody will give up assets for him.

A.J. McCarron, Bengals (RFA) - McCarron has an unusual amount of fans among Jets followers. His only extended work came towards the end of 2015 and into the Bengals’ infamous wild card loss to Pittsburgh, but he did put up decent numbers (66% completions, 6 TD, 2 INT, 7.2 Y/A, 97.1 rating) in the regular season before posting a 68 rating against the Steelers. McCarron is 27, which gives him higher perceived upside than many of the other options, but is a restricted free agent and has put very little on tape in the NFL.

Case Keenum, Vikings - Once an afterthought in Houston, St. Louis, and Los Angeles, Keenum stepped in for Sam Bradford and played very good football for the Vikings as he led them to the second seed. He entered as good a situation as there is for a backup QB, with an elite defense and some nice offensive weapons, but nevertheless he’s going to get paid this offseason. Depending on their playoff results, it very well could be the Vikings doling out the cash to their Week 1 backup.

Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers - Don’t get your hopes up about Jimmy G testing the market. This man is a Niner. They’re going to lock him up.

THE “PLEASE STAY AWAY MAC” MARKET

The rest of the bunch. You’ll chuckle at a lot of these names, but soon afterward be stricken with fear as the thought of the Jets signing one of them becomes all too real in your mind.

Geno Smith

Brock Osweiler

Blaine Gabbert

Ryan Fitzpatrick

Drew Stanton

Tom Savage

Jay Cutler

Matt Moore

E.J. Manuel

Chad Henne

Mark Sanchez

Chase Daniel

Matt Barkley

Austin Davis

Brandon Weeden

Tyler Bray

Josh Johnson

Derek Anderson

Joe Webb

Kellen Clemens

Scott Tolzien

David Fales

Also do keep in mind that our man Josh McCown is a free agent. If the Jets strike out on the big names and plan on going for it all in the draft with a high QB pick, McCown might make sense as veteran competition/leadership. Again, let me be clear, he should be far down the list of priorities, but there is still a tiny bit of potential value with him.

Poll

Should the Jets be active in the free agent quarterback market?

This poll is closed

  • 44%
    All out for Kirk Cousins or move on to the draft
    (597 votes)
  • 15%
    They should bargain hunt for a younger, mid-tier option i.e. Bridgewater or Taylor
    (213 votes)
  • 4%
    They should stay cheap with someone like McCown; stopgap/fort-holder
    (63 votes)
  • 15%
    No, they need to save the money and get their guy in the draft
    (207 votes)
  • 20%
    100%, they should go hard for Cousins then move on to the next best option
    (274 votes)
1354 votes total Vote Now