Future Patriots QB? Ranking Updated List Of Top Veteran Options

Who's the best fit in New England?

by

More than half of the 32 NFL teams could have a new starting quarterback next season with the draft, trades and free agency reshuffling depth charts throughout the league.

It seems like a new option is added to the growing list of available veteran signal-callers every day.

The Los Angeles Rams failed to commit to Jared Goff this week just days after Matthew Stafford requested a trade from the Detroit Lions. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers made some telling comments about his future after losing the NFC Championship Game on Sunday.

This is all to say the New England Patriots picked a pretty good year to need a new quarterback when the five signal-callers who could go in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance and Mac Jones, are thrown in as well.

So, add Goff, Rodgers and Stafford to that list of QBs who could change teams this offseason that already included Cam Newton, Deshaun Watson, Jimmy Garoppolo, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Teddy Bridgewater, Ben Roethlisberger, Alex Smith, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Jacoby Brissett, Sam Darnold and Mitchell Trubisky.

In an attempt to rank the available QBs, we averaged their season-to-season rankings in key advanced metrics over the last 10 years.

We broke it down by EPA+CPOE, EPA/play, success rate, CPOE and air yards (via RBSDM.com), QBR (an ESPN metric), PFF grade and adjusted completion percentage (via Pro Football Focus), and DYAR and DVOA (Football Outsiders metrics).

Here’s what all of those stats mean, via their respective sites:

EPA: expected points added
CPOE: completion percentage over expected
Success rate: percent of plays with positive EPA
Air yards: yards targeted
PFF grade: explained in full detail here
Adjusted completion percentage: completion percentage taking out dropped passes, passes thrown away, spiked balls, passes batted at the line of scrimmage and those passes in which a quarterback was hit as he threw
DYAR: Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement (explained here)
DVOA: Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (explained here)

First, though, let?s look at where these quarterbacks rank in EPA+CPOE, EPA/play, Success Rate, CPOE and air yards overall over the last 10 years.

RkQBEPA + CPOERkEPA/playRkSuccess RateRkCPOERkAir Yards
1P.Mahomes0.18510.337153.70%73.1208.6
2A.Rodgers0.15320.243750.70%53.3268.5
3D.Brees0.15340.231252.10%24617.5
4P.Manning0.14550.212550.90%24308.4
5R.Wilson0.141130.1761449.00%15.789.2
6T.Brady0.1430.237451.00%171.3308.4
7D.Watson0.13680.191650.80%43.8128.9
8T.Romo0.13570.193850.60%53.3358.3
9J.Garoppolo0.12960.208351.20%161.4637.3
10M.Ryan0.128100.181850.60%93358.3
11P.Rivers0.128120.181249.50%73.1438.1
12B.Roethlisberger0.126100.1811149.90%112.5208.6
13L.Jackson0.11790.191748.50%280.4128.9
14D.Prescott0.113140.1671050.20%171.3358.3
15K.Cousins0.109160.1361548.90%102.6458
16J.Winston0.105150.141349.40%131.7110.4
17C.Palmer0.1190.1262048.00%131.739.5
18J.Allen0.096180.1321648.80%210.649.4
19B.Mayfield0.091210.1252347.50%310.1178.7
20M.Mariota0.091230.1112647.30%191119
21R.Fitzpatrick0.088220.122547.40%32-0.1208.6
22A.Luck0.087170.1341848.30%45-1.2128.9
23K.Murray0.087240.1092347.50%250.5537.7
24A.Smith0.085290.1043246.40%250.5657
25M.Schaub0.085240.1092247.60%290.2497.9
26M.Stafford0.084190.1261948.20%43-1.1438.1
27R.Tannehill0.084320.0872147.70%151.5208.6
28T.Bridgewater0.082350.0733545.80%122637.3
29D.Carr0.078300.0883346.20%290.2537.7
30C.Newton0.077260.1072647.30%45-1.289.2
31C.Wentz0.076300.0882847.20%32-0.1308.4
32J.Goff0.076280.1053146.60%47-1.3507.8
33A.Dalton0.074330.0823046.90%32-0.1358.3
34C.Kaepernick0.073270.1064145.10%49-1.869.3
35E.Manning0.07340.0813446.10%38-0.7308.4
36J.McCown0.07370.0633645.40%210.6268.5
37T.Taylor0.07370.0635642.60%250.569.3
38N.Foles0.069420.0565343.30%200.7268.5
39R.Griffin III0.069390.0583645.40%210.6358.3
40J.Cutler0.066430.0523645.40%210.6178.7
41J.Flacco0.065360.0694245.00%39-0.8208.6
42M.Hasselbeck0.06390.0583945.30%40-1537.7
43G.Minshew II0.059440.0494544.70%37-0.6587.6
44M.Trubisky0.059410.0572947.00%40-1358.3
45M.Vick0.055460.0334245.00%36-0.349.4
46C.Keenum0.048450.0343945.30%48-1.6587.6
47T.Siemian0.047500.0214944.00%40-1208.6
48J.Locker0.04490.0235642.60%53-2.429.7
49S.Bradford0.0395204744.40%43-1.1617.5
50D.Jones0.037510.0114644.60%52-2.1507.8
51M.Glennon0.03262-0.0466042.40%32-0.1158.8
52J.Brissett0.031480.0255143.60%61-4.1537.7
53B.Bortles0.03470.034444.90%64-4.6458
54S.Darnold0.02759-0.0295542.70%49-1.8178.7
55B.Weeden0.02653-0.0055842.50%57-3.2458
56C.McCoy0.02559-0.0296142.30%51-2587.6
57C.Ponder0.02555-0.0085842.50%56-3.1458
58G.Smith0.02456-0.0096142.30%59-3.3268.5
59B.Osweiler0.02258-0.0164744.40%57-3.2358.3
60J.Freeman0.02153-0.0055143.60%61-4.1158.8
61B.Hoyer0.01957-0.0145343.30%60-3.9109.1
62C.Henne0.01663-0.0496442.00%54-2.9537.7
63M.Sanchez0.01361-0.0324944.00%61-4.1428.2
64M.Cassel0.01264-0.0756342.10%54-2.9308.4
65B.Gabbert-0.01665-0.1266539.10%65-7.3507.8

The first and most obvious takeaway is how high Garoppolo ranks on this list. Garoppolo has other concerns, like durability and inconsistency, but he could wind up being a good value depending on how the quarterback market shakes out. Jimmy G for a second-round pick is probably a better investment than Stafford for a first, for example.

It?s not shocking to see Rodgers and Watson ranked so highly. It?s ultimately unlikely that Rodgers will be traded, but he?d probably garner multiple first-round picks despite being 37 years old. The going rate for Watson starts at three first-round picks.

Winston might be the best value, and it?s pretty crazy to see him ranked in the top 15 in all of those metrics. He threw a ton of interceptions in 2019, his last year as a starter in Tampa Bay, but he?s still young, has upside and has been successful as an NFL starting quarterback. It really doesn?t make a ton of sense that he only earned a one-year contract for $1.1 million on the open market last offseason. If you?re looking to bring in a veteran quarterback to compete with a rookie, he?s the perfect choice.

Mariota could be available via trade, but his $10 million salary is a bit prohibitive for his value.

Fitzpatrick is another decent option for teams looking for a potential bridge option, and it?s maybe slightly surprising to see that he?s been a more valuable quarterback than Smith, Stafford, Bridgewater, Newton and Goff over the last 10 years. You can?t commit to Fitzpatrick but he?s a solid option to start until a younger option can take over.

Goff has probably been worse than expected since he was drafted in 2016. He made a Super Bowl, but it?s pretty easy to see why the Rams aren?t ruling out the idea of moving on from him. They never should have given him a four-year, $134M contract.

There?s a significant drop-off before you get to Trubisky, Brissett and Darnold who should only be viewed as backup options. It seems like the Jets are going to give Darnold one more shot under new head coach Robert Saleh. We?ll see if that proves wise.

Now, let?s go quarterback-by-quarterback to see their average rankings over the years and throw in the ESPN, PFF and Football Outsiders metrics to see if anything changes.

The quarterbacks are ordered by their average ranking across years and statistics.

Aaron Rodgers

YearEPA + CPOEEPA/playSuccess RateCPOEAir YardsQBRPFF GradeAdj. Comp. %DYARDVOAAVG
2020113219112213.3
2019131221149208238913.7
201819182325101762791216.6
20171211215367117181413.3
20164461084316686.9
20152118242117141321171718.3
2014221824218215.1
201343432514511067.5
2012564327632446.4
2011113114121212.7
AVG8.27.69.110.218.98.65.310.87.87.39.4

It?s tough to remember now that Rodgers went through a relative rough patch from 2015 to 2019. He turned it around in a big way this season.

Deshaun Watson

YearEPA + CPOEEPA/playSuccess RateCPOEAir YardsQBRPFF GradeAdj. Comp. %DYARDVOAAVG.
20205873312311556.2
201910101010117912121210.3
2018131613815132614101113.9
2017217111244014711.9
AVG7.58.89.387.510.715.519.310.38.810.6

It?s easy to see why Watson?s trade value is as high as it is. He?s worth it for a team already built to compete in 2021.

Ben Roethlisberger

YearEPA + CPOEEPA/playSuccess RateCPOEAir YardsQBRPFF GradeAdj. Comp. %DYARDVOAAVG
20202522262630222524172023.7
20187451622416295811.6
20177539106322587.8
2016771114121112218911.2
2015434252310544.2
20143332137310134.8
201310171510211677111212.6
2012101091022551091110.1
201181114867101991010.2
AVG99.11010.815.78.99.316.97.89.410.7

Buyer beware on Roethlisberger if the Pittsburgh Steelers decide to move on. He missed most of 2019 and didn?t come back as the same caliber of quarterback in 2020.

Dak Prescott

YearEPA + CPOEEPA/playSuccess RateCPOEAir YardsQBRPFF GradeAdj. Comp. %DYARDVOAAVG
202013126242581419814.3
201995315641114167.4
20182122251928181915252621.8
2017202123202341812171717.5
20163337173811436.2
AVG13.212.6121719.87.312.813.213.21213.4

The Cowboys should either sign Prescott to a long-term contract or franchise him again. It?s shocking that they haven?t locked him up yet.

Jimmy Garoppolo

YearEPA + CPOEEPA/playSuccess RateCPOEAir YardsQBRPFF GradeAdj. Comp. %DYARDVOAAVG
202013121726393229231723.1
20191197113012114111111.7
20171111133131325.3
AVG8.37.38.312.727.312.015.315.315.710.013.4

Garoppolo has only played one full NFL season (2019). He tore his ACL in 2018 and dealt with ankle injuries in 2020. He?s a risk, but there?s value there.

Jameis Winston

YearEPA + CPOEEPA/playSuccess RateCPOEAir YardsQBRPFF GradeAdj. Comp. %DYARDVOAAVG
2019141412171162235232417.8
2018810614182635161513.9
20171014532191528111211.9
2016161515153121933151615.9
2015141210174192034161616.2
AVG12.4139.613.22.214.820.43316.216.615.1

Is Winston, 27, the most underrated quarterback in the NFL? It?s interesting to see that his PFF grade and adjusted completion percentage doesn?t really line up with the rest of his metrics. Regardless, he should be a starting quarterback.

Matthew Stafford

YearEPA + CPOEEPA/playSuccess RateCPOEAir YardsQBRPFF GradeAdj. Comp. %DYARDVOAAVG
2020201412264151225141415.6
20197491026737949.5
20182421252532231618202122.5
2017131211131781112101111.8
201612972126871091412.3
201520196143315211091015.7
20142417212720251928152021.6
2013191515271921821121517.2
2012171614241614122561215.6
201110961221121165910.1
AVG16.613.612.619.91914.712.419.210.91315.2

A team will wind up trading a first-round pick or more for Stafford, and it makes sense because he?s a dependable, fairly consistent starter. There are bigger risks on this list who could wind up paying larger dividends, however.

Ryan Fitzpatrick

YearEPA + CPOEEPA/playSuccess RateCPOEAir YardsQBRPFF GradeAdj. Comp. %DYARDVOAAVG
202076292451912211612.1
201916171420881422181915.6
2018457331410231569.0
2016272426317293435323227.7
201512921251010293181216.7
20141312131520151426171215.7
2013910201617152211212016.1
20122120262232253323232324.8
20111820151533192124182320.6
AVG14.113.716.017.317.115.621.823.019.218.117.6

Did you know Fitzpatrick has been a top-15 quarterback over the last three years? Fitzpatrick deserves to start again in 2021. A team can?t head into the season with him as their only option, however.

Alex Smith

YearEPA + CPOEEPA/playSuccess RateCPOEAir YardsQBRPFF GradeAdj. Comp. %DYARDVOAAVG
2020333634283834319343531.2
20182826242816272431282926.1
2017591222591029109.3
2016191619163410146121115.7
20151715161636122114151517.7
2014171317243822162141818.1
20132019212639272013202122.6
2012813743421115912.4
201120182825341645131317.6
AVG18.618.319.818.832.719.617.99.217.817.919.0

Smith is a great story but didn?t come back looking like the same quarterback in 2021.

Teddy Bridgewater

YearEPA + CPOEEPA/playSuccess RateCPOEAir YardsQBRPFF GradeAdj. Comp. %DYARDVOAAVG
202018211882817313181918.1
2019172122183719320918.4
201516212863417171212218.3
2014222624192920124343422.4
AVG18.322.323.012.832.018.019.82.823.321.019.3

It really doesn?t make sense that Bridgewater signed a three-year contract worth $63 million while Winston made $1.1 million and Newton earned less than $4 million in 2020.

Cam Newton

YearEPA + CPOEEPA/playSuccess RateCPOEAir YardsQBRPFF GradeAdj. Comp. %DYARDVOAAVG
20202728242932302313313126.8
2018172014113120239232319.1
20172219222713202734212122.6
2016312931342252439282827.1
201597719311524111210.8
2014252213317191140323223.2
2013121181511101718171913.8
201214916239131531141515.9
2011121016175141930151515.3
AVG18.817.216.822.912.618.018.226.421.321.819.4

Newton is in a similar boat as Winston and Fitzpatrick as a quarterback who still has starting potential but can?t be counted on as the only option.

Marcus Mariota

YearEPA + CPOEEPA/playSuccess RateCPOEAir YardsQBRPFF GradeAdj. Comp. %DYARDVOAAVG
201933293532313023292930.1
2018182517926211812272720.0
2017171715148141427192016.5
20168812174132532131014.2
2015192020128263126302822.0
AVG1919.819.816.815.418.523.62423.622.820.6

There are better values than Mariota. There are also worse options.

Jared Goff

YearEPA + CPOEEPA/playSuccess RateCPOEAir YardsQBRPFF GradeAdj. Comp. %DYARDVOAAVG
2020262522193323227202221.9
20191916212623232027151820.8
20181511122412108196512.2
20171482125211715236515.5
201636363636353937343435.9
AVG22.019.222.426.024.818.320.822.616.216.821.3

Goff?s four-year extension hasn?t even kicked in yet. He has a $34.6M cap hit in 2021.

Mitchell Trubisky

YearEPA + CPOEEPA/playSuccess RateCPOEAir YardsQBRPFF GradeAdj. Comp. %DYARDVOAAVG
2020242391818203636242423.2
20193533252924302733272729.0
201899816833334171915.6
20173433343327312830292930.8
AVG25.524.519.024.019.321.031.033.324.324.824.7

Trubisky is nothing more than a backup.

Jacoby Brissett

YearEPA + CPOEEPA/playSuccess RateCPOEAir YardsQBRPFF GradeAdj. Comp. %DYARDVOAAVG
20192118183325213323191622.7
20172927323232283216282728.3
AVG2522.52532.528.524.532.519.523.521.525.5

Brissett is a low-end potential bridge starter. He?s best viewed as a backup.

Sam Darnold

YearEPA + CPOEEPA/playSuccess RateCPOEAir YardsQBRPFF GradeAdj. Comp. %DYARDVOAAVG
20203638363223333734353333.7
20192632321616263116323125.8
2018323033335292936303028.7
AVG31.333.333.72714.729.332.328.732.331.329.4

If the Jets are willing to be patient and wait another year on Darnold, then that?s their prerogative, but it probably makes more sense to take a quarterback with the second overall pick.

So, what should the Patriots do? That?s really tough to say. It?s no guarantee that they?ll be able to take a quarterback with the 15th overall pick. Lawrence, Fields, Wilson and Lance will likely be gone. Do they view Jones as a first-round option?

If it was guaranteed that the Patriots could draft a quarterback, they should also sign Fitzpatrick or Winston. Those are the most cost-efficient options with the highest upside as bridge starters.

If New England doesn?t like its quarterback options at No. 15 overall, trading a first-round pick for Stafford or a second-round pick for Garoppolo are worthy considerations. The Patriots would know what they?re getting in Stafford, and Garoppolo is the better value who carries more uncertainty.

Obviously, Rodgers, Watson and Prescott are the best quarterbacks available. But they?re simply pipe dreams at this point. Rodgers might not even come available, the Patriots don?t have the right package to offer for Watson, and the Cowboys would be crazy to let Prescott walk.

Roethlisberger, Mariota, Smith, Bridgewater, Goff, Trubisky, Brissett and Darnold aren?t worthy of much serious consideration.

Newton is the biggest remaining question mark. His and the Patriots? lack of success in 2020 is a tough sell. Could he improve with a full offseason in New England?s system? Maybe. But there weren?t dramatic consistent improvements from Newton in 2020. If the Patriots draft a quarterback in April, they could pair him with Newton for a year or two until he?s ready. It feels like that would be treading water to some extent, however. Newton would probably be best suited to sign with a team like Washington for a fresh start in 2021.

There?s simply not an easy answer to the question, but the rookies, Stafford, Garoppolo, Winston, Fitzpatrick and Newton should all be on the table.

Thumbnail photo via Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports Images

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