In the Week 15 QB Index, I examined the players who could be available in the 2018 quarterback market. But which teams will be looking to make a change?
Below is a rundown of the teams that should be most aggressive in seeking a new quarterback this offseason, with a few curveballs thrown in.
(Just want to mainline the 2017 season rankings at quarterback? Head to the bottom of the page.)
A CHANGE IS GONNA COME
New York Jets:Bryce Petty is probably the Jets quarterback who is the most likely to return to the team next year, and he's not even a lock. New York figures to pull the plug on the Christian Hackenberg experiment at some point before next season, with the 2016 second-round pick having shown little progress. Josh McCown was better at 38 years old than anyone could have imagined (2,926 yards, 18:9 TD-to-INT ratio in 13 games), but the Jets run the risk of re-living the Ryan Fitzpatrick Experience if they bring McCown back expecting a repeat performance from him. Quitting while ahead feels like the move if the Jets can upgrade. Pairing McCown with a rookie-to-be-named-later is one potential route, but the Jets should be considered at the top of the list of teams that will be aggressive going after veteran names via trade or free agency.
Cleveland Browns:DeShone Kizer has demonstrated enviable traits, flashes of a quality quarterback within. But there's no way he's shown enough to return as an unquestioned starter. The Brownsare currently slated to own the No. 1 overall pick in April's draft, along with the No. 5 pick, acquired from Houston. (Thanks, Sashi!) New general manager John Dorsey seems almost certain to invest one of those picks in a quarterback, or the city of Cleveland could revolt. The larger question is whether the Browns will seek out a veteran in March first.
Buffalo Bills: For the second straight year, the Bills are set to enter an awkward dance with starter Tyrod Taylor, in which the team simultaneously gauges what's available on the market and what Taylor could fetch in a trade with a year left on his contract. Last year, the two sides got stuck with each other because neither could do any better. Don't expect that to happen again.
Denver Broncos: It's safe to say the trio of Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch isn't going to cut it again. Broncos VP John Elway is expected to be aggressive in coming up with an alternative, a tacit admission that selecting Lynch in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft was a mistake.
Arizona Cardinals:Carson Palmer is under contract for 2018, but his playing status will likely be tied to the future of coach Bruce Arians, with retirement potentially looming for both of them. Even if Palmer did want to return, it's an open question whether the team would want him back after another serious injury (a broken arm shelved him in October). The Cardinals are overdue to add some younger talent at the position.
Jacksonville Jaguars: When the Jaguars picked up the fifth-year option in Blake Bortles' contract in May, the initial reaction was confusion. Now it looks very possible that Bortles stays in Jacksonville next season to collect his scheduled $19 million salary. That could change if Bortles' December hot streak turns cold in the playoffs, or if a better option comes along. With a great defense, no state income tax in Florida and warehouses full of salary-cap space, the Jaguars are a sleeper team to watch if Kirk Cousins hits free agency.
Washington Redskins: Cousins' play has tailed off down the stretch in a difficult season that has proven his value more than ever. Either the Redskins are going to make Cousins the highest-paid quarterback in football, or the team needs to start from scratch at the position, with backup Colt McCoy next in line.
Minnesota Vikings:Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford are slated for free agency after the season. The Vikings will likely only be able to sign one of them, with Bridgewater the most likely pick, because of his pedigree and upside. A long playoff run from Keenum could perversely make him more likely to leave, encouraging suitors to make an offer Keenum can't refuse. After playing on four teams in four years, Keenum will have his chance to cash in.
New Orleans Saints:Drew Brees is unsigned heading into 2018, but the team's success this year all but ensures the Saints won't allow the best player in franchise history to finish his career elsewhere. It's hard to imagine a scenario in which he leaves, although a contentious negotiation that includes some missed practice time is not difficult to envision. (It's happened before with Brees.)
Miami Dolphins: The assumption is that the Dolphins will say goodbye to Jay Cutler and welcome back Ryan Tannehill, who missed the entire 2017 season after undergoing surgery to fix his ACL. It's not so crazy to imagine coach Adam Gase instead looking to draft (or acquire) a hand-picked quarterback rather than staying with Tannehill, who was selected two Dolphins general managers ago.
New York Giants: Co-owner John Mara wants Eli Manning back, which should carry weight with whoever is hired to fill the team's open general manager position. There's no better time, however, to make a clean sweep of the organization. The Giants could theoretically ask Manning to mentor a top draft pick at quarterback like Kurt Warner once mentored Manning, but these situations are always thornier when a franchise legend is involved.
Cincinnati Bengals: With Marvin Lewis on his way out, a new coach will be inheriting Andy Dalton's relatively affordable contract. Said new coach will also note that Dalton is coming off his worst career season, as Dalton is ranked No. 28 in ESPN's QBR metric, ahead of only Jacoby Brissett, DeShone Kizer, Trevor Siemian and Mitchell Trubisky. Dalton's contract could make him a trade asset if a new regime wanted to get creative.
UPDATED 2017 QB RANKINGS
*And now back to our regularly scheduled programming, the updated 2017 quarterback rankings. These are based on this season's play only, and I capped the rankings at 12 players because there was such a big drop-off after Goff. There will be a complete ranking of 32 starters to come after Week 17. *
**2017 stats:** 14 games | 67.1 pct | 4,163 pass yds | 8.1 ypa | 28 pass TD | 7 INT </content:power-ranking>
**2017 stats:** 14 games | 63.9 pct | 4,025 pass yds | 7.6 ypa | 26 pass TD | 14 INT </content:power-ranking>
**2017 stats:** 14 games | 61.0 pct | 3,669 pass yds | 7.3 ypa | 30 pass TD | 11 INT | 521 rush yds | 3 rush TD </content:power-ranking>
**2017 stats:** 14 games | 71.8 pct | 3,850 pass yds | 8.1 ypa | 21 pass TD | 7 INT | 2 rush TD </content:power-ranking>
**2017 stats:** 14 games | 62.2 pct | 3,838 pass yds | 7.7 ypa | 24 pass TD | 10 INT </content:power-ranking>
**2017 stats:** 14 games | 65.2 pct | 3,490 pass yds | 7.8 ypa | 18 pass TD | 11 INT </content:power-ranking>
**2017 stats:** 14 games | 66.3 pct | 3,920 pass yds | 7.8 ypa | 25 pass TD | 9 INT </content:power-ranking>
**2017 stats:** 14 games | 67.8 pct | 3,738 pass yds | 8.0 ypa | 25 pass TD | 5 INT | 342 rush yds | 1 rush TD </content:power-ranking>
**2017 stats:** 14 games | 60.3 pct | 2,962 pass yds | 6.8 ypa | 21 pass TD | 12 INT | 643 rush yds | 5 rush TD </content:power-ranking>
**2017 stats:** 13 games | 67.9 pct | 3,219 pass yds | 7.5 ypa | 20 pass TD | 7 INT | 162 rush yds | 1 rush TD </content:power-ranking>
**2017 stats:** 14 games | 66.1 pct | 3,636 pass yds | 7.8 ypa | 24 pass TD | 9 INT | 159 rush yds | 3 rush TD </content:power-ranking>
**2017 stats:** 14 games | 62.4 pct | 3,503 pass yds | 8.0 ypa | 24 pass TD | 7 INT | 1 rush TD </content:power-ranking>
Check the Air Index each week to see which quarterbacks are delivering at the top of their game, just like FedEx Ground delivers with fast and affordable shipping.