McGinley: Get ready for a quarterback carousel this offseason
Mannion McGinley | Friday, January 24, 2020
Every year as the season comes to a close, heartbroken fans who don’t get a chance to watch their team in the Super Bowl start to speculate about what’s going to change, and the conversations about free agency inevitably begin.
This year’s free agent pool is quarterback heavy. Some are calling it quits, like Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who will be making his way into retirement after a Hall of Fame worthy career. Some need a new place to call home, like Philip Rivers of the LA Chargers, Jameis Winston of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Case Keenum of the Washington Redskins. Others just need renewed faith from their fanbase, like the Cowboys’ Dak Prescott.
There are some situations, however, that are just a little more complicated. With backups like Teddy Bridgewater of the New Orleans Saints and Marcus Mariota of the Tennessee Titans up for new contracts, and the same being true for their teams’ incumbents Drew Brees and Ryan Tannehill, respectively, the question to be asked is: who stays and who goes?
In regard to the Titans, Tannehill has earned the position. He went 7-3 in the last 10 games of the season after taking over from Mariota just before week seven. He then led the Titans to a playoff win over Tom Brady and the Patriots in Gillette Stadium, followed by an impressive win over the number one seeded Ravens and Lamar Jackson.
The Titans coaching staff would be hard-pressed to find someone to replace Tannehill, who threw for 2,742 yards, 22 touchdowns and six interceptions this season. The likely assurance in Tannehill’s future means a high level of uncertainty for Mariota. He has enough talent to start somewhere else, but he needs a new scene for sure unless he’s willing to stay on as a backup.
When deciding between their two stellar quarterbacks, however, the Saints will have an interesting decision to make.
Drew Brees is undeniably amazing at his position. This year he set the career passing touchdowns record with 547, topping Tom Brady’s 541 and Peyton Manning’s 539. He also led the team to eight wins and three losses while he was healthy. During his time out with a thumb injury, however, Brees was replaced by Teddy Bridgewater, a 27-year-old quarterback who went 5-0 as a starter this season.
While Bridgewater held his own and is headed into free agency with 65.2% completion percentage, how do you sacrifice the gaudy numbers and remarkable consistency that Brees has provided over the last 14 years?
The quarterback whose future I am most certain about is Tom Brady, the oldest free agent in the pool. With five Super Bowl rings to his name, Brady doesn’t need to go anywhere. Yes, even I have admitted this year was a little rough for him statistically, but as a Patriots fan, it is a privilege to call a 12-5 season with a wild card appearance “rough.” The main reason I know Brady will be back in New England if he has anything to say about it is that the man has too much pride to end a stellar career with a pick six. And with new, inexperienced receiving talent, the Patriots can’t afford to lose an experienced leader.
While the football world’s attention will be drawn to Miami on Sunday for the Super Bowl, the quarterback carousel will be in motion soon enough.