For the first time since New England wore white Pat Patriot helmets, it’s unknown who will be the Patriots’ Week 1 starting quarterback in September.
That might seem dramatic, but Tom Brady is a free agent for the first time in his career, and he could move on to a different team or retire this offseason. Brady certainly is the most likely player to start at quarterback for the Patriots in Week 1 of the 2020 season, but it’s not a foregone conclusion.
This is an interesting offseason because of the caliber of quarterbacks, including Brady, who could be available as free agents on March 18.
If the Patriots don’t sign Brady here are other players who could be available:
Brees, like Brady is a free agent. It’s unlikely the New Orleans Saints would let him go after he had another spectacular statistical season.
Manning was benched for New York Giants starting quarterback Daniel Jones this season. Manning said he wouldn’t want to be a backup, and it seems unlikely a team would name him a starter. So, he looks destined for retirement.
Rivers will be 39 years old next season and had a down statistical year in 2019. He was unwilling to move from San Diego to Los Angeles, so he commuted the last few seasons. It seems unlikely that Rivers would move across the country then.
Bridgewater is an interesting option for the Patriots if Brady leaves. He proved this season that he can be a quality starting quarterback in the NFL. Spotrac projects him earning a three-year, $20 million contract on the open market. That’s pretty costly, and he doesn’t have a ton of upside.
Winston is a wild card. He still has potential, but he became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in 2019. Spotrac projects a four-year, $107 million deal for Winston. At that price, just bring back Brady.
This one is a little interesting. Mariota was benched for Ryan Tannehill in 2019. A smart move would be for Mariota to sign a one-year prove-it deal to show he can still start in the NFL. Perhaps the Patriots would add Mariota to the quarterback room to compete with Jarrett Stidham and a rookie?
Spotrac projects Tannehill will sign a three-year, $77 million deal. He’s a boom-or-bust player. Tannehill had a passer rating over 93.5 for the first time in his NFL career in 2019, when he led the league with a 117.5 mark. What’s to say Tannehill won’t turn back into a pumpkin, like Case Keenum did from 2017 to 2018, however? Tannehill seems destined to return to Tennessee unless the Titans sign Brady.
So, this would only be possible if the Cowboys sign Brady. Prescott will deservedly break the bank this offseason. Spotrac projects a five-year, $165 million deal.
Hill is a restricted free agent. He’s an interesting player who would require a tweaked offense. But he’ll be relatively cheap compared to some of the other names on this list, and he’d have a role even if he doesn’t win the starting QB job.
Mullens is an exclusive rights free agent, so he’d probably have to be acquired via trade.
Allen is another ERFA. He came back down to earth midway through the 2019 season.
Dalton carries a $17.5 million salary, so teams will probably wait until the Bengals release him. He’s a similar option to Mariota who would compete with other options.
Flacco carries a $20.25 million salary. What were the Broncos thinking? He also would need to be released and would probably compete with younger options.
Foles is slightly more affordable at $15.125 million. He’s such an unpredictable player.
This would probably require Brady, or another one of these players, being signed by the Las Vegas Raiders. He has an $18.9 million salary in 2020, which isn’t terrible for a proven starter.
The Colts will probably keep Brissett, but he’s a more affordable option with a $6 million salary and $8.9 million roster bonus. The Patriots drafted Brissett in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Smith has a $16 million salary. He needs to get fully healthy after breaking his leg during the 2018 season. He’s a quality quarterback when healthy.
Newton carries an $18.6 million salary in 2020, which is a relative bargain for a player with his starting experience.