It's never too soon to start looking ahead at a quarterback market. Coming off the most fertile, strange QB market in NFL history in 2020, one can't help but wonder what is to come next year.
It won't be as star studded and you won't see so many accomplished quarterbacks available at bargain-bin prices; at least, you tend to think not. We won't be waiting on the every move of Tom Brady and Drew Brees and Philip Rivers as we did a year ago, though Rivers and Brees are only on one-year deals, and we may see some other familiar faces from 2020 back again on the market, like Cam Newton and Jameis Winston.
It's already potentially fascinating when you begin to ponder it, with teams now perhaps expecting QB prices to still be depressed, and the state of NFL business still somewhat unknown given the pandemic and with another assortment of passers of every age and level of accomplishment possibly up for grabs again.
Consider the two Big Apple teams. How much more will they really know about Daniel Jones and Sam Darnold come 2021, given the failed state of their rosters this season? And if new regimes take over, with tops picks in a robust QB draft awaiting them, it's not hard to envision a scenario where they are looking to move on. Will Washington show any patience with Dwayne Haskins, given they'll likely be picking int he top 10 again? What about the Jags and Gardner Minshew?
If Brees struggles, any chance the Saints take a long look at Winston before entering the Taysom Hill era? Cuz we all figure this is it for Brees, correct? The Patriots will franchise and/or extend Newton, as I've long suggested in this space, and Dak Prescott has to be staring at a second-straight franchise tag in Dallas, right? But, what if not?
Rivers I suspect ends up going the same route as Brees, but somebody would be looking at Jacoby Brissett as an option, I would think, with his Colts deal expired. Any chance the 49ers move off of Jimmy G, given the guaranteed money on his deal will be paid and it would cost $28M to keep him and $2.8M in dead cap to let him go? Would a Kyle Shanahan reunion with Kirk Cousins make sense, given their deep ties and the fact the Vikings season is coming apart at the seams before we reach October, and who knows what chance awaits if this keeps us?
A lot of teams like 49ers backup Nick Mullens, who is an intriguing restricted free agent option and may get more time to show his stuff this week if Jimmy Garoppolo is still out. Would anyone seek Mitch Trubisky as a reclamation project? Andy Dalton have any allure?
There are some intriguing prospects, particularly with the market -- trade and free agent -- perhaps flooded with recent first-round picks like Haskins and Jones and Darnold and Trubisky and Josh Rosen, to name a few. It won't be as wild as last year, but I bet it provides a few unexpected twists and turns.
Memo to NFL teams: Stop blitzing Mahomes
Blitzing Patrick Mahomes is folly. It is a doomed path. Extinguish it from your play sheets (or be super judicious about when you go there).
Look at what the Ravens did Monday night, with the best blitzing play-caller in the NFL who does it more than anyone else (and better than anyone else) absolutely unable to get a stop against Mahomes. Wink Martindale tried every form of blitz possible and left going 2-for-12 on third down stops, getting crushed by the screen and the deep ball.
It doesn't work. This kid is too smart and too fast and too good to leave him with matchups to exploit downfield. The only chance you have is to rush four, make him move off the spot and try to play zone coverage and hope to frustrate him. You will still probably lose, but you might keep it close and have a chance to win it late and if you are blessed with elite edge talent, you might actually get the better of him.
But there is one template, and it involves a four-man front, and even that is probably going to only hold up for a few quarters. The combination of Andy Reid and Mahomes is going to rewrite the way we look at offense. It is the greatest show on turf, but with a QB who can crush you with his legs and his arm.
More insider notes
- I'm starting to worry about the Saints. I've been worried about Brees, but the entire scope of that operation, on both sides of the ball, makes me wonder. The pass rush is not what I expected, the defense in total is not what I expected and Brees is not going to push the ball down the field. Sean Payton is a genius, and if anyone can reinvent this thing on the fly it's him, but I'm starting to worry about this team ...
- The Bucs are getting a little better every week. Their defense is legit, and I like the strides Tom Brady is making each week ...
- I've been a bit of a Packers skeptic entering this season; they are probably going to make me look very stupid (and I do a pretty good job of that myself) ...
- The scary thing about the Bills is they still haven't started playing their game on defense yet. Wait until the linebackers really get their legs under them ...
- Very interested to see how the Cardinals and Kyler Murray bounce back this week. I suspect it's with a vengeance.