The year of 2017 has found itself buried with overachieving NCAA quarterbacks, many of whom will likely elect to declare for the upcoming NFL Draft. In addition, with aging veterans currently declining under center, many franchises may go on to scout some of the younger, and perhaps more durable options for the future. Which NFL teams should consider drafting a quarterback for the future at the upcoming draft? Here are a few likely suitors:
Sitting at 37-years old, veteran Carson Palmer chose not to retire after the 2016 season, even though the Cardinals finished under .500 in the regular season for the first time since Palmer came to Arizona. Sitting behind Palmer in the depth chart happens to be Drew Stanton, who is only four years younger than Palmer, and is also an unrestricted free agent by the end of the 2017 season, but has not shown promise to most NFL fans since being drafted by the Detroit Lions in 2007.
Palmer, who is likely going to once again lean on retiring at the end of the upcoming season, should be forcing the Cardinals front office to look into upcoming quarterback prospects in the near future. On top of that, don’t be shocked if future Hall of Fame wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald also debates retirement as well.
I wouldn’t expect for the Cardinals to put themselves in place to receive a top rookie quarterback by the start of 2018, but this was a franchise that many argued should have looked into drafting a quarterback last year. Anything can happen during the free agency period, but the Cardinals should seriously consider drafting a quarterback to ease the transition period for Palmer.
Joe Flacco, the 32-year old gunslinger from University of Delaware, has been a monumental key to the Ravens success since 2008. On the contrary, Flacco’s age has played a factor into his regression over the last 30 games (2015-present), as his starting record is 13-17.
While the Ravens don’t “urgently” need a quarterback at the start of 2018, it wouldn’t be a poor choice to place someone behind Flacco in order to learn the system and develop from the sideline.
Flacco has a potential option in his contract which allows him to depart in 2020, which will likely be the year the Ravens opt to hand the torch to a new quarterback. By drafting a quarterback this upcoming draft, Baltimore can allow two full seasons for a potential rookie to become the heir to Flacco.
Although the Jaguars have started off the season 2-2, quarterback Blake Bortles has been less than impressive during his tenure with the franchise. With a starting quarterback record of 13-36, Jacksonville should at least contemplate the idea of bringing in a new man under center.
The Jaguars picked up Bortles’ fifth-year option at the end of last season, and in result, the veteran is set to earn over $19 million in 2018. After that, the 25-year old is due to become an unrestricted free agent, and I would be shocked if Bortles was kept beyond that point.
While the Jaguars have been underwhelming to say the least in the regular season under Bortles, 2018 could be a season in which the franchise considers tanking in order to receive a higher draft slot.
I believe Bortles will find some success in his NFL career, but it won’t be with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The front office needs to make it clear that Bortles is not the answer, as they experiment with an upcoming rookie.
Los Angeles Chargers
Although the Chargers move from San Diego to Los Angeles has been exciting, the spotlight has been evidently too bright for the franchise in the early parts of 2017. Starting the season 0-4, Philip Rivers hasn’t done a whole lot to carry the Chargers to success, even in recent years.
Although Rivers has accumulated over 46,000 passing yards and 300 touchdowns, is it time for Los Angeles to look into a potential backup? Much like the situation involving the Kansas City Chiefs and rookie Patrick Mahomes, I believe the Chargers are in the perfect position to draft a rookie quarterback to be mentored by Rivers.
Rivers has the option to back out of his contract in 2019, in a decision that may lead to his eventual retirement. With only Kelen Clemens and Cardale Jones behind Rivers on the depth chart currently, don’t be shocked if the Chargers look towards the draft board on an answer to their quarterback situation.
New Orleans Saints
It’s no secret that Drew Brees is going to the Hall of Fame someday, as his most recent passing accomplishment has allowed him to lead the league in passing yards in each of the last three seasons. Having represented the Saints franchise since 2006, a transition period for the front office is going to be difficult to accomplish.
I was personally shocked when New Orleans didn’t draft a quarterback in 2016, as they instead chose to focus on their defense. Although Brees recently signed an extension with New Orleans, he is set to technically become a free agent by the end of the season based on “voidable years” in his deal.
The upcoming draft is filled with potential quarterback talent, and one is likely to be viewed as the supposed heir of Brees. Will the ten-time Pro Bowler be wearing gold and black at the start of 2018? The veteran is set to turn 39 in January, leaving fans wondering what the future holds for the Saints.
New York Giants
The fact that the New York Giants are 0-4 to start the 2017 season is only part of the reason that the franchise needs to explore for a new prodigy to Eli Manning in the upcoming NFL Draft. Manning, currently playing at 36-years old, has been known to be one of the more efficient postseason quarterbacks in recent NFL history. On the other hand, he has been wildly inconsistent over the course of the regular season, and with any aging quarterback, a new and improved backup option could prove to be valuable.
With a potential out in his contract at the end of the 2018 season, I believe the Giants should invest within someone not named Geno Smith as their backup option. While I’m not knocking the potential Smith has, he hasn’t really done much in his NFL career to prove he has what it takes to lead a franchise to the postseason.
Manning has had a glorious NFL career, but time is not on his side. If the Giants continue to drop regular season games over the course of the season, expect for New York to at least look into drafting a quarterback in the middle rounds of the upcoming draft.
New York Jets
Regardless of the New York Jets starting the 2017 season 2-2 under Josh McCown, I fully expect for the Jets to do whatever it takes in order to select USC product Sam Darnold in the 2017 Draft. Darnold, a sophomore, has currently tossed for 4,300+ yards, 40 touchdowns, and has only 16 interceptions in his two years at a college level. While many will argue that the Jets could move up and select a safer prospect, the ongoing headline is that the Jets are fully committed to tanking the current season in order to select the quarterback of their choice.
While 2-2 isn’t exactly “tanking”, don’t expect the Jets to win many more games this season. The franchise is in the midst of a rebuild stage, and New York’s eventual success will revolve around the quarterback they are supposedly expected to select in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers haven’t found a quarterback solution since their days of Colin Kaepernick/Alex Smith, as they now contain a mediocre Brian Hoyer under center. While I am one of C.J. Beathard’s larger supporters, I believe the San Francisco front office will explore their options on Draft Day.
One of the more interesting theories is that the 49ers could be interested in signing Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, who has yet to sign any long-term extension with the franchise. If the 49ers could acquire Cousins in a trade of some sorts, it could be viewed as the biggest transaction of 2018.
If not Cousins, then fully expect for the 49ers to explore their draft options, as plenty of quarterback prospects should be on the market at their selection. Will it be the first round? Possibly not, but without a definitive leader under center, the 49ers need to figure out a solution.