Each off-season the NFL offers a litany of players which are destined to find new homes for the upcoming season. The 2016 free agent pool is no different. This segment will dig into a handful of quarterbacks, which could find themselves dawning new uniforms for the 2016 season. Whether due to contract status or simply having worn out their welcome for their current teams, the one thing we can always count on happening is things always change.
Without further ado, let’s dive in and have some fun projecting just where they may land, the implications it could have on their current teams and which players may benefit from their departure.
Defining Free Agent Status:
UFA – Unrestricted free agents are players with expired contracts that have completed four or more accrued seasons of service. They are free to sign with any franchise.
RFA – A player who is no longer considered to be entry-level, but does not qualify as an unrestricted free agent, becomes a restricted free agent when his contract expires. A player may only declare himself to be an unrestricted free agent if he is over the age of 27 or has played in the league for a minimum of 7 years.
ERFA – An exclusive rights free agent is a player who is not under contract but has two years of NFL experience. A player in this category is not really a free agent. He cannot sign with any other team, if he does not sign the contract, the player has to quit.
QB Sam Bradford (UFA)
On the heels of a tumultuous season in Philly and having rolled the proverbial dice on his 2015 play, Bradford holds no leverage in contract discussions. Kelly has already stated publically he wants him back. The bigger question is whether or not Kelly will even return to the Philly sidelines himself.
The What If:
What if Bradford did not not return to Philadelphia in 2016? Where would be a good fit? In my minds eye, here are my top 3 landing spots where he could be a productive addition. In no particular order; Cleveland Browns, New York Jets & Houston Texans.
There really isn’t an heir apparent for Bradford in Philly, at least not at this time. The Sanchize could provide a stop-gap solution should the Eagles not go QB in the draft. But if Chip Kelly is still running the ship all bets are off.
QB Brock Osweiler (UFA)
Osweiler has shown glimpses of being a capable NFL starting QB. He currently has a plethora of offensive weapons at his disposal. However, consistency has been proven difficult for him too establish, during his short time at the helm. Nevertheless, the Bronco brass appear to be in support of his candidacy and he will have one more week in addition to the post season to complete his audition. His potential to lead the Broncos in 2016 will rest heavily on how he finishes his 2015 campaign.
The What If:
Should “The Brock” either decide Denver isn’t the place for him or more importantly, should John Elway make that decision for him, there will certainly be suitors for his talents. Here are my top 3 good fit landing spots for Osweiler; Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns & Detroit Lions.
In the event Osweiler is out of the Mile-High city, in 2016, the Broncos will certainly be looking to bring in another immediate starter. Manning has likely seen is last days in Denver, so the Bronco brass will be searching high and low for their next QB. Whomever is brought in will have a cornucopia of talent to play with.
QB Kirk Cousins (UFA)
Kirk Cousins has been a man on a mission in 2015. Although, I wonder whether or not he is gunning for the starting gig in Washington in 2016, or if he is more focused on earning personal respect. Either way, most ideals offer positive motivation if not obsession. Cousins was handed the reigns with little push back and hasn’t looked back since. His 2015 season thus far, has been the epitome of sporadic, yet he has shown a steady confidence as he declares his mark as the future quarterback in Washington.
Unfortunately, owners, coaches and GMs are a fickle bunch. One day you are their golden boy and the next you are more than expendable. At the end of the day, Cousins will have options in 2016, whether its remaining in D.C. or dawning a new uniform.
The What If:
Let’s assume the Redskin brass elects to try their hand in the NFL Draft or better yet pluck another aforementioned QB off the blocks. Where would Cousins make a good fit? Here are 3 teams he could work well with; Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets & Houston Texans.
The talent in Washington is there (from a skill position standpoint), especially for another quarterback to come in and feel confident with the weapons currently in-house. Should Cousins depart D.C. for greener pastures there will be a complete re-capitulation done at QB. RGIII won’t likely return either so the search will begin. I get the sense that owner Daniel Snyder wont be shy about opening up the pocket book either.
QB Drew Brees (Currently under contract)
The 2016 status of Drew Brees remaining in New Orleans, has been hotly contested of late. The meter is firmly set in his favor of returning due to contractual hurdles that would need to be bypassed for a change to happen. However, I am of the opinion that the Saints will be in purge mode and be looking to the future.
The What If:
Should Brees find himself “in the wind” next season there are certainly a few teams he could be a boost too, even though he is on the cusp of turning 37. Here are my top 3; Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions & Houston Texans.
In my view, and although it may be a stretch, one made stands too reap the most from a possible Brees departure. The player I am referring to is rookie QB Garrett Grayson. Again this is merely speculation, but that’s exactly what this segment is intended to provide.
QB Colin Kaepernick (Currently under contract)
The writing is on the wall. Most pundits are resigned to the fact that Kaep has played his last down in Baytown. I am of the same belief. The cap will be a minor hurdle but a change will be good for both parties. The Kaep Train is packed and ready to chug-along down the tracks to destinations unknown. He will certainly have suitors willing to roll the dice.
The What If:
Playing under the guise that Kaep is indeed bound for different pastures in 2016 let’s look at 3 teams where he might make a good fit; Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns & Washington Redskins.
The 49ers are in full-on rebuild mode from top to bottom. What’s it hurt to just pull the Kaep plug and continue the “start fresh” trend. Blaine Gabbert will not, I repeat WILL NOT be the starting QB in San Francisco in 2016. This leaves the current 49er quarterback cupboard bear. There will be some changes in San Fran land at QB and I believe it will primarily come via the draft with possibly a veteran brought in as gap insurance.
QB Johnny Manziel (Currently under contract)
Ol’ Johnny Football! This kid is an enigma. Will he stay or will be go? It’s anyone guess really. I actually think the future could be fun in Cleveland should be remain. The potential of having back Travis Benjamin with the hopeful return of embattled WR, Josh Gordon, in addition to TE Gary Barnidge creates some intrigue. Nonetheless, those are a lot of unknowns.
The What If:
Should Johnny be handed his walking papers, either via trade or flush, he will have plenty of teams with a more than piqued interest. Although, nailing a starting gig may be hard too come by, he could be a safe dice roll, as a back-up, for some teams. Here are 3 teams which could make interesting fits; Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins & New York Jets.
Should the Browns elect to move towards another direction, in 2016, I envision McCown most likely remaining, while grooming his replacement either via the draft or through a potential trade or free agent signing, etc. Should the Browns make a move I think McCown will find himself in a camp battle either way. Whomever emerges as the starter in Cleveland will be welcomed to some intriguing skill position talent.
*Note: These are merely projections meant for fun. Much will occur, as it always does, in the NFL off-season, so take this segment with a grain of salt as NFL rosters are a fluid bunch. Stay vigilant & keep that third eye open in your quest for knowledge and always be building, especially in Dynasty formats.