Is good actually good enough, or is it elite or bust? NFL free agent quarterbacks are pricey. Can any of them lead a team to a title? Its all or nothing when it comes to a QB decision.
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As we enter the beginning of the NFL offseason, the position on everyone’s mind is quarterback. It feels like the position is more in-flux than ever, with a ton of free agent quarterbacks once again hitting the market. Teams are struggling to balance two competing ideas: an elite quarterback is necessary to win a championship; and a cheap quarterback is necessary to build a championship roster.
The QB position is as hard as ever to judge, but front offices are becoming more particular. “Good” is no longer good enough. The legendary checkpoint of Kirk Cousins is as relevant today as when he signed with Minnesota. Many believe a quarterback on Cousins’ level is not going to get it done. He’s good, but will never be good enough if your goal is a league championship. It is the same argument that led to Las Vegas jettisoning Derek Carr. But is this really true?
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Carr also comes into play with our second idea. Quarterbacks on rookie deals allow general managers to spend openly to build a well-balanced and complete roster. Just look at Philadelphia. If, however, a quarterback is making bank, he has to be other-worldly because the rest of the roster isn’t going to be up to snuff. Look no further than Kansas City. The Chiefs had to cut back this past offseason in part because of Patrick Mahomes’ massive cap hit. Mahomes is good enough to carry the rest of the roster. Most everyone else in the league is not. It is the same argument that led to Las Vegas jettisoning Derek Carr. Sorry Derek!
But what if you already built your roster with a cheap quarterback? Is good now good enough? We tear apart this year’s free agent quarterbacks and decide if they can ever lead a team to a title.
Scrutinizing NFL Free Agent Quarterbacks
Todd Salem: Elite Or Nothing
With those two competing ideas comes teams’ willingness to be more flexible than they ever have with the most important position in sports. It’s why there was so much movement last year, and we should see another slew of big names making headlines this year. So where will all the dominoes fall? I’m going to throw out the quarterbacks in the news who could be on new teams, and then tell you whether they can fit into the box of a championship QB, either because they are cheap enough to build around or good enough for it not to matter.
Derek Carr: I personally don’t think he’s good enough if your goal is a title, especially at his rate. But for a team just looking to make a playoff push, a la the New York Jets, he could be perfect.
Tom Brady: Does he actually stay retired this time, or was it another excuse to find another new (or even old??) home? New England does need a quarterback…
Jimmy Garoppolo: He feels like the epitome of ‘not quite good enough’, though we’ve seen him bring a really good team to the Super Bowl. He should be at a lower price point than the Carrs or Cousins of the world, which would help a bit in roster flexibility.
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Lamar Jackson: I can’t imagine the Ravens let him walk, but he is going to cost a fortune. Whether he does or doesn’t return to Baltimore, is he good enough to carry any franchise if he’s taking up 20 percent or more of the cap? That’s what makes this so tough.
Daniel Jones: He reportedly wants to make $45 million per year. The Giants are not going to sign him for that, nor is anyone else. Jones proved he’s a capable leader this past season, but is he anywhere above the discussed Cousins zone? Maaaybe. In one world, I could see an argument that says he’s as good of a player as Jalen Hurts with a much, much worse roster around him. The key is, even if that ends up being true in some magical twist, he won’t be making $1.6 million against the cap like Hurts did a season ago.
Aaron Rodgers: Will Green Bay actually trade him? From the Packers’ perspective, I’d like to see Jordan Love finally given a chance. However, for a team trading for Rodgers, are they sure he’s still in that elite tier of passers? Rodgers will count as $31.6 million against the cap in 2023, and the number goes up from there. Teams will have to balance that with his occasionally shoddy play on the field in the ’22 season.
Dan Salem: Above Average Is Good Enough
I disagree with the notion that Carr, Garoppolo, Jones, and even Cousins are not good enough to be on a championship team. These are all above average quarterbacks who are ABSOLUTELY GOOD ENOUGH to lead an offense on a team that is also good enough to win a title. This is a loaded statement, because for an above average quarterback to capture a Super Bowl ring, his team must have a great defense and tremendous offensive weapons. These quarterbacks aren’t elevating the players around them like Mahomes and Jackson do, but they know how to use a great weapon when given one.
If the Giants had a better defense this past season and at least one #1 wide receiver, they would have been true title contenders with Jones. You don’t need your quarterback to carry the team, but you do need him to play mistake free and elevate his own game at the most critical moments. There’s a difference and one can easily argue that Carr and Cousins do not know how to do just this, but I believe Garappolo and Jones do. I also believe Carr and Cousins would be able to do this on better teams. The Vikings defense stunk last season and the Raiders were even worse overall. This makes it very hard on your quarterback.
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To be clear, I’m not sure any of these quarterbacks are worth the money. Unless you’ve already built a solid team with a cheap quarterback, a la the New York Jets, it’s not worth sinking so much money into one player. None of these guys do what Mahomes can do, so none are worth the money they command. That said, this is today’s NFL and you have to pay a lot for slightly above average. Now for our list of quarterbacks!
Derek Carr: His rate sucks, but Carr has been really good with decent teams. When he’s asked to force things and make too many plays happen, that is when it gets ugly for Carr. Give him a good team with good protection and Carr will look like a superstar. Add a top five defense and you’ve got a potential champion in the making.
Tom Brady: This man is retired. He filed his papers, which apparently is a thing that makes it all official. Look for him to be a coach next season, but not a player ever again.
Jimmy Garoppolo: I’d like Jimmy the best, but his injury history scares the crap out of me. If this means he’s cheaper, then I’m scooping him up, so long as it’s pretty damn cheap. Just pair Jimmy with a solid backup quarterback, like what the Jets have in Mike White. The Jets also have a young gun that needs to learn from him. Both Carr and Jimmy can teach Zach Wilson. I expect New York to sign one or the other. Garoppolo can take your team to the title. He practically did it in San Francisco already.
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Lamar Jackson: Too expensive, especially since he’s coming off a serious injury. He is a superstar, but his style of play requires more pieces around him than say Mahomes does. To be fair, Mahomes has Travis Kelce, a defensive nightmare to match up with. You gotta get Jackson someone comparable if you aren’t giving him a plethora of other weapons.
Daniel Jones: I love Jones for a low price, but I hate him at market value. He’s played one excellent season of mistake free and injury free football. How do we know this is a trend? Every other year he’s gotten hurt or made lots of mistakes. That scares me, but I do love what I saw from him in terms of getting better in 2022. If he wants to cash in, then he will get the opportunity. But he can take a team to a title, so long as he leaves money on the table.
Aaron Rodgers: Since the price for Rodgers is set, I don’t think he will win another title. Green Bay can’t afford to get him enough help and Rodgers needs more at this point in his career. I don’t think another team will pay the price to get him, at least not one that’s built to win.
Meet our Writers:
Dan Salem is Lead Editor, Writer, and Co-owner of BuzzChomp. He’s a published author, as well as an award winning Actor, Director and Producer. Visit M Square Productions for his film work, or get lost in his old-school comedy on Pillow Talk TV. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
Todd Salem is a Staff Writer and Contributing Editor at BuzzChomp. He’s also a fantasy football and fantasy baseball Staff Writer for RotoBaller. Follow him on Twitter or comment below for his unfiltered opinions.
Free Agent Quarterbacks Photo Credits: SI.com and JetsXFactor.com via Getty Images
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