There was a flurry of quarterback activity in the NFL this weekend. Plenty to talk about. Hot take fodder for weeks in some quarters, no doubt. Let the faux debates rage on!
In reality, however, nothing really changed. At least not as it pertains to some of the most over-analyzed QB situations around the league. The ones many of us continue to obsess about. There really aren't an awful lot of dots to connect out of the events of the last 72 hours. Though many will try.
The ramifications of Andy Dalton signing for peanuts in Dallas or the Bears giving Mitchell Trubisky the Heisman on that fifth-year option or the Patriots and Jaguars sitting out another wave of quarterback musical chairs really just re-informs what you already should have known. It was yet another portal into the souls of these organizations as it pertains to the QB position. It should serve to reinforce what they have already been telling their fanbases – and the rest of the NFL – through their deeds and words.
The truth is, for the Bears and Cowboys and Patriots and Jaguars and Chargers and Bengals (and I'll throw in the Packers, too), ain't a damned thing changed. And attempts to assert otherwise will end up looking foolish. Follow me here:
All of this serves to further codify that no front office has mismanaged and misevaluated the QB position, going on at least three years now, like Chicago's. It's not even all that close. The Jags give them a run for their money, but then again Jacksonville found a way to pawn off an untradeable $21M albatross of a Nick Foles contract amid the most over-saturated QB market in history and actually come away with a fourth-round pick … because, well, Ryan Pace. The Bears did all of this at a time when Dalton and Cam Newton would clearly end up on the street as unrestricted free agents, to say nothing of being able to get a 26-year old Jameis Winston for $1M. Winston actually would have been the immediate starter, but instead they fail to give Trubisky young competition and then finally admit their obvious defeat on their Trubisky selection (they traded up for him despite no other team planning to go there and passed on Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson in the process) by making the only reasonable financial decision they could and not guaranteeing that fifth-year for injury. Other than that, nothing to see here.
Stop it with this Andy Dalton as leverage against Dak Prescott stuff. Come on! Taysom Hill just got $21M and Dalton has a base of $3M. He is an expert insurance policy if Prescott gets hurt. That's it. Dalton gets to come back to Texas and, stuck in the worst QB market of all-time, he gets to a potential winning team loaded with first-round talent on offense and a great offensive line to bide his time until hitting the market again in a less bloated 2021 landscape. That's it. No one wants Dak to win a Super Bowl in Dallas more than Jerry Jones and no one wants to be able to say "I told ya'll about that Prescott!" more than Jerry and no one has been pinned into a corner by a QB more than Jerry (it's Dan Snyder v. Kirk Cousins, 2.0, and we all know who delivered repeated knockout blows in that tilt). He placed Prescott's value on an annual basis at least at $30M a year ago, before Prescott's best season ever. The QB can sit back til mid July and see what happens with a Mahomes or Watson extension. This changes none of that.
New England Patriots
Like I've been reporting since well before the draft, they believe Jarrett Stidham can be a winning QB in the NFL. They love what they saw of him last spring and summer and through practice all season. They believe if he was in this year's draft he would have been, at worst, the fourth best prospect available and some in that building preferred him to Justin Herbert, too. They took Stidham for a reason, just like they took Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett and Brian Hoyer and Matt Cassel during Tom Brady's long tenure. They think he can play in the league and with no offseason this year and in a new era post-Brady, if there was ever a time to find out about the kid it's now … ahead of what could be another generational QB class in 2021.
Los Angeles Chargers
Tyrod Taylor will open that new stadium in Inglewood (assuming it's still ready amid this pandemic). He won't turn the ball over and he will put that defense in position to take over games, if capable. Herbert will need time. Their QB room is full.
Green Bay Packers
If you thought there was already heat on them for trading up and potentially over-drafting Jordan Love, well, the events of last week only cranked up that landscape. Could have used that first-overall pick and grabbed Winston (again, he just turned 26 in January) for $1M with an eye to a transition if need be. Could have grabbed a still very much in his prime Dalton for merely three times that. It would have avoided a ton of drama, let them actually try to maximize what is left of Aaron Rodgers' time there and also let them begin taking a look at potential replacements in-house. Someone want to argue that Love has more upside than the guy who led the NFL in passing yards and finished second in passing TDs and hasn't played his age 26 season yet?
There was never going to be a Dalton trade. They botched that by benching him right before the trade deadline last year and not taking whatever they may have been able to get from the Bears for him. They should have been ahead of the bloated QB market by dealing Dalton at the combine. But then again, this is not the most progressive franchise. Being as bad as they were last year and only having seven draft picks to show for it means they left a ton on the table.
They don't want to use the word rebuilding, but they are rebuilding. Going with Gardner Minshew amid all of these other options after selling off Calais Campbell and A.J. Bouye for next to nothing and with this Yannick Ngakoue situation still festering and with Leonard Fournette untradeable, well, I can see why they are doing this. Only wish they had started it much sooner and had self-scouted and self-assessed that roster and their toxic culture well before they did, because a full-fledged sell-off like the Dolphins or Raiders executed may have put them in far better position to actually get out of this hole anytime soon.
And last but not least ...
Patience is a virtue for him at this point. Based off the recent deals from Winston and Dalton you could see teams wanting Cam for $5M-$7M per year plus incentives. And he should say hell no. He was an MVP not that long ago, and with his health a concern and no physicals possible amid this pandemic and not a single OTA taking place, anyway, might as well wait til the summer and camp and the eventual run of injuries that will occur. He would be a huge upgrade over many guys sitting in the starter seat right now, but the timing is terrible this spring and no need to rush into anything. The Ravens and Steelers and Patriots and Chargers and Jaguars and Bears, for starters, should be all over him, but he'd be silly to go to Jacksonville or Chicago given where those franchises are, Steelers GM Kevin Colbert told me last week they are not interested in any backup QBs, and the Ravens and Pats seem to like what they have too. So sit it out, Cam. Your time will come again. And you will make a lot of GMs look foolish when you do get a chance to start again.