When Gardner Minshew stepped up to start for the Philadelphia Eagles in a 33-18 win over the New York Jets earlier this month, he did more than help keep the team in the playoff race. He also presumably juiced his own trade market.
After Minshew completed 80 percent of his throws for 242 yards and two TDs (against zero picks), NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that the Panthers had engaged in talks with the Eagles about potentially acquiring Minshew earlier this season. While that trade obviously did not happen, it is intriguing to think about other teams that might be in the market for his services this offseason.
Minshew Mania is tantalizingly recent history, after all. The ex-Jaguar, who was traded to Philadelphia in August, has one year left on his rookie contract, which is set to count for $965,000 against the salary cap in 2022, per Over The Cap. He may not get a chance to start again this season for the Eagles, and he might ultimately serve as a high-upside backup next season even if he finds a new home. But in the meantime, I think the six teams below make sense as potential fits.
Whatever happens with Deshaun Watson, it's safe to assume he won't be playing quarterback for the Texans in the future. Rookie Davis Mills has four games left in 2021 to prove he could be the long-term answer the club is looking for. Mills hasn't been terrible, but his numbers this season (0-7 record, 81.1 passer rating, 8:8: TD-to-INT ratio) suggest Houston would do well to at least explore its options. With plenty of rebuilding still in front of this franchise, the Texans are not likely to be players for a big-name target like Russell Wilson. However, Minshew should be absolutely attainable as a Plan B for 2022, whether as a veteran backup who could replace Tyrod Taylor (on a one-year deal right now) or as a starter who could provide a spark.
The Lions appear to be in for at least another year with Jared Goff, who is guaranteed $15.5 million next season. Still, if the front office elects not to draft a quarterback prospect this offseason, Minshew could be brought in to challenge Goff, who hasn't done much to transcend the limitations imposed by his uninspiring supporting cast. Let us not forget that Minshew first burst on the scene as a rookie in 2019 while playing for a Jaguars team that only featured one player (D.J. Chark) who cracked 800 yards receiving. So even if Minshew just ends up pulling bridge duty, he could bring a bit of juice and swagger to a franchise that should be aiming to at least outpace this season's dreadful record.
With the serviceable Teddy Bridgewater finishing out his one-year deal, I would expect the Broncos to continue their pursuit of a big-fish upgrade at the position. But if the marquee QBs all stay put or head elsewhere, Minshew could be a strong fallback option. Consider that in 37 appearances since 2019, Bridgewater has completed 68.3 percent of his passes with a 42:20 TD-to-INT ratio and 95.0 passer rating, while logging 218.1 yards per game and 7.4 yards per attempt. Minshew's production in his career thus far (63.5 percent completion rate, 39:11 TD-to-INT ratio, 94.4 passer rating, 231.3 yards per game, 7.0 yards per attempt in 25 games) suggests he would be at least as effective as Bridgewater -- and again, Minshew never had a supporting cast in Jacksonville as stacked as the group in Denver.
The only quarterbacks under contract in San Francisco for 2022, per Over the Cap, are Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance. So, if Garoppolo is traded away this offseason as part of the Niners' transition to the Lance era, they'll need to bolster that portion of the depth chart. There will surely be plenty of veterans available, but Minshew could make sense as a low-cost stabilizing force while Lance continues to learn the ropes in Year 2. The team would have to surrender draft capital to land him, but he's also set to earn less than $1 million in 2022, which could make him appealing, given that backups like Andy Dalton ($10 million), Tyrod Taylor ($5.5 million) and Jacoby Brissett ($5 million) signed deals that paid them more even in this cap-strapped season.
Derek Carr is playing well, but he's also set to enter the final year of his contract in 2022. Backup Marcus Mariota, meanwhile, is headed for free agency. The Raiders could be hiring a new coach and general manager, meaning ALL quarterback options will be on the table. Whether the new regime buys in on Carr or wants to maneuver for an eventual refresh at the position, Minshew would be useful as a high-end backup capable of taking care of the offense for a franchise seeking stability.
Carolina is a mess at this position. In head coach Matt Rhule's first season at the helm, with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback, the Panthers ranked 18th in passing yards, and they've only gotten worse at throwing the ball in 2021. In nine starts before going down with a scapula injury, Sam Darnold completed 59.5 percent of his passes with a 7:11 TD-to-INT ratio. Cam Newton, meanwhile, has done little to show his Carolina comeback should extend into next season, posting a passer rating of 73.6 and 28 rushing yards per game in his three appearances. Rhule might be running out of time to figure things out, with offensive coordinator Joe Brady already having lost his job. And there is the messy fact that Darnold is guaranteed $18.585 million next year. But given the team's interest in Minshew earlier this year, it would make sense to kick the tires on the 25-year-old QB again.