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NFL Teams Are Scrambling for their Next Franchise QBs

The Minnesota Vikings are Hoping they've Struck Free Agent Gold with Kirk Cousins; His Deal is Expected to be 100% Guaranteed.

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“Money, Money, Money, Money…Money.”

We hate to agree with arrogant sports talk hosts like the “Pope” Mike Francesca and Colin Cowherd, but when they’re right, they’re right. NFL teams don’t consistently win without a franchise quarterback. Francesca was notorious for stating unequivocally “if you have two quarterbacks, you have none.” Cowherd says ‘Tom Brady’ so much, you’d think he gets paid $100 bucks for every utterance.

The NFL’s free agency period began in earnest on Monday. Clubs are permitted to negotiate with the certified agents of Unrestricted Free Agents upon the expiration of their 2017 contracts at 4:00 PM EST on March 14. However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 4:00 PM EST on March 14. Let’s analyze the most intriguing quarterback storylines going into the 2018-19 NFL season. Spoiler alert…Kirk Cousins just made a butt-load of cash.

Minnesota Vikings

Potential Depth Chart: Kirk CousinsKyle Sloter
First-round position: No. 30
Analysis: Before Tuesday, the Vikings had a surplus of experienced QBs on their roster, including Teddy BridgewaterCase Keenum, and Sam Bradford. Coming one game short of SuperBowl LII, Minnesota they’re Super Bowl contenders now. So how did Zygi Wilf and GM Rick Spielman decide to improve their team? They’ve reportedly signed Kick Cousins to a three-year, fully guaranteed $84 million contract. You read that right, fully guaranteed. That’s unheard of in the NFL. Only time will tell if Cousins is the Vikings’ version of Peyton Manning or the next Hershel Walker. Our money is on the latter.

A huge shoutout to Cynthia Frelund of the NFL Network. She crunched the numbers and correctly predicted Cousins would sign with the Vikings. Frelund didn’t make her prediction this week either, she predicted the signing on her podcast Game Theory and Money three weeks ago. The pod’ is a must-listen for sports or analytics fans. Plus Frelund’s weekly analytic breakdowns are the highlight of the NFL NetworkSorry Rich, it’s the truth.

Cleveland Browns

Potential Depth Chart: Tyrod Taylor (acquired via trade from the Buffalo Bills) and Cody Kessler
First-round position: Nos. 1 and 4
Analysis: Until March 9, the speculation about the Browns QB search centered on USC’s Sam Darnold. The trade for the Bills’ Tyrod Taylor on Friday was a surprise, but the Browns are committed to adding veterans to their roster. In addition to Taylor, Cleveland traded for Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry to complement receivers, Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman.

GM John Dorsey may still pick a QB with his first-round picks, but after his combine performance, teams are bursting at their seams to select Penn State RB Saquon Barkley. Dorsey could pick a QB including Darnold, Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield in the draft. But there’s also rumors the Browns want to sign QB AJ McCarron.

Denver Broncos

Potential Depth Chart: Case KeenumPaxton LynchTrevor Siemian
First-round position: No. 5
Analysis: GM John Elway and the Broncos climbed to the top of the NFL ladder, but unfortunately fell off hard in just two years. Elway is banking that Vikings’ hero QB Case Keenum can revitalize the Broncos’ fortunes. They still have a championship-level defense, but no offensive leader.

Since winning Super Bowl 50 and the retirement of future HOFer Peyton Manning, the Broncos have struggled mightily. Elway and Head Coach Vance Johnson hope the team bottomed out last season going through three starting QBs (Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler, and Paxton Lynch) and a 5-11 record.

Only one problem, they acquired a career backup with one breakout season under the direction of new Giants Head Coach Pat Shurmur. This is a huge risk and if it goes bad, Broncos ownership may be looking for a new GM and coaching staff.

New York Jets

Potential Depth Chart: Josh McCownTeddy Bridgewater, and Christian Hackenberg
First-round position: No. 6
Analysis: Josh McCown was a pleasant surprise for the Jets as a 37-year-old starter. McCown and the newly acquired Teddy Bridgewater will battle it out in training camp for the starting role. Even with the two signings, the Jets may want a better option with their top draft pick.

The bigger question remains, what offensive playmakers will the Jets put around their signal caller. They’ve signed Browns’ RB Isaiah Crowell to a three-year contract but a desperate for receivers. Quincy Enunwa and Austin Seferian-Jenkins aren’t enough.

Arizona Cardinals

Potential Depth Chart: Sam Bradford, Mike Glennon
First-round position: No. 15
Analysis: The retirements of Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer signal the start of a new era for the Cardinals. But, the ‘Team that Larry Fitzgerald Built’ is in a major rebuilding mode. the Cardinals will get back fantasy darling RB David Johnson from a season-ending injury, but they’ve cut RB Adrian Peterson and S Tyrann Matthieu aka “The Honey Badger.” The Cards will need a successful draft to have any hope for a positive 2018 season. They could go for another QB, wide receiver, offensive tackle, linebacker, or cornerback.

Buffalo Bills

Potential Depth Chart: ? , Nathan Peterman
First-round position: Nos. 21 and 22
Analysis: Despite making the playoffs for the first time in 17 seasons with Tyrod Taylor, the Bills are looking to make a change at QB. It’s not like they can start Nathan Peterman ever again.

If GM Brandon Beane and Head Coach McDermott can find their franchise QB in free agency, the Bills could be active players on draft weekend. The Bills have accumulated several draft picks in the last week. Buffalo is looking to move up to the top five and select a QB. Adam Schefter of ESPN reports the Colts at three as the most likely trading partner.

Quarterback Research

Several front offices and talent executives are weighing QB options both from college and on the pro levels. We aren’t experts, which is why we do a lot of research. Thanks We Are Fanatics for this interactive map of every NFL quarterbacks regular-season touchdowns from the 2017-18 season. It really helped to develop this article. http://wearefanatics.com/passing-touchdowns/

For example, they found:

  • Nick Foles can make big plays. His TD passes traveled an average of 32 air yards compared to 35 for Carson Wentz and just 28 air yards per TD for Brady.
  • WR Alshon Jeffery isn’t just a red zone threat to score. 40% of his touchdowns were scored on receptions where he was at least 15 yards from the end zone.
  • Wentz was a big play machine. Five of his TD passes came with him standing at or behind his own 40-yard line.
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