Summer is upon us, which means training camp is right around the corner. And there's nothing that camp brings out more than a good competition. Fortunately for those of you who enjoy a good quarterback battle, there are actually a handful of jobs up for grabs -- both officially and otherwise -- ahead of the 2021 campaign. Which ones are the spiciest? Which ones should you be glued to? We're glad you asked, because here, we're ranking the top five QB battles set to go down this summer:
5. Broncos (Drew Lock vs. Teddy Bridgewater)
Put together, this isn't a terribly exciting duo. Lock followed up a gutsy rookie year with an injury-riddled and turnover-prone sophomore campaign, while Bridgewater has been an even-keeled but unspectacular starter for the entirety of his career. Still, the winner of this battle could decide whether Denver truly challenges for a playoff spot this year. The Broncos have an underrated roster -- young play-makers and a feisty defense -- but need a steadier hand under center. Bridgewater likely provides that, but if Lock can cut down on the silly mistakes, he presents a higher ceiling.
4. Saints (Jameis Winston vs. Taysom Hill)
Most just expect Winston to get the job, and that's probably the logical thing for the Saints to do. No, Jameis has not proven to be a safe and/or sustainable starter, but you can only run a wildcat-type offense with Hill for so long. Still, can we really put it past Sean Payton to get creative -- or even full-on unorthodox -- as he pits these two in-house favorites against each other? Winston is more than capable of taking Drew Brees' old spot and dropping a 4,500-yard, 30-touchdown stat line. The question is whether Payton and Co. will bank on his ability to steer clear of killer turnovers over Hill's ability to extend plays his own way.
3. Bears (Andy Dalton vs. Justin Fields)
Chicago has gone out of its way to crown Dalton the Opening Day starter (we still don't know why), and chances are he will, in fact, kick off the season under center. The Bears think he's an upgrade on both Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles, and they may be right (barely), but Dalton's own resume screams for Fields to steal the job. Once Bears staffers get a fuller look at Fields in person, our bet is he'll make this race a lot closer than they think. And, honestly, they should prefer that, seeing as though they're the ones who traded up to make him the future face of the franchise this spring.
2. Patriots (Cam Newton vs. Mac Jones)
New England followed up its free-agent spending spree by making a serious investment at QB in Jones. Any addition would've been welcome after an ugly 2020 from Newton, who received little help but has also quietly been a mediocre passer for a half-decade. But Jones is especially intriguing considering he was often compared to Tom Brady, the man the Pats are still looking to replace, coming out from under Bill Belichick's buddy Nick Saban. Cam can and should be better with an improved supporting cast, but it's not unreasonable to think Jones could show more accuracy and durability to claim the job early.
1. 49ers (Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Trey Lance)
The Niners will tell you that Garoppolo is cemented as the QB1 for the foreseeable future, and they'll probably be telling the truth. This is a team built to contend now that it's past an injury-ravaged 2020. But they didn't give up immense draft capital to pick Lance No. 3 overall just to be cute. They know Jimmy G has failed to stay on the field, and they've been willing to turn it over to a potential upgrade for a while. Garoppolo may start 12 games; he may start 16. But Lance is the real deal physically, so it'd be foolish to discount his chances of unseating the veteran earlier than anticipated. The fact this is an expected playoff team makes the battle all the more intriguing.
Packers: This only happens if Aaron Rodgers sits out or forces his way out of town, neither of which seems impossible. And while the spectacle of a showdown between Jordan Love and Blake Bortles may not boost ticket sales in Green Bay, it'd still be one heck of a storyline considering how much would be riding on either a polarizing first-rounder or an ex-first-rounder-turned-career backup.
Texans: Like the Packers, they won't be having any competition if their incumbent is back. But Deshaun Watson is still under investigation by the NFL as he faces more than 20 civil lawsuits alleging sexual assault or misconduct. He reportedly also still wants to be traded. In other words, don't count on him suiting up in September, which means we'll probably be looking at Tyrod Taylor and third-round rookie Davis Mills competing for snaps, with the former the odds-on favorite to open the year at QB.