As everyone knows, the centerpiece to any NFL franchise is the quarterback position. The man under center is ultimately granted most of the credit when it comes to the success of an organization, but are also blamed for their shortcomings as well. Plenty of quarterbacks have shined in recent years, as some currently have the opportunity to be paid for their efforts. Which quarterbacks with an expiring contract deserve an extension, and which will be disappointed with the results?
Kirk Cousins (Washington Redskins)
2017 Salary: $23.94 mill
After being fed yet another franchise tag from the Washington Redskins, Kirk Cousins will have to earn his payday from the franchise throughout the upcoming season. While both sides remain in distant discussions over a potential contract extension, is Cousins “the guy” for the Redskins?
While he only contains a career starting quarterback record of 19-21-1, Cousins has been more than consistent in his five years in the NFL. Maintaining a TD:INT ratio of 1.71, the only barrier that Cousins has faced has been a lack of surrounding weapons. With back-to-back seasons of 4,000+ passing yards, 25+ touchdowns, and a total QBR of 97+, Cousins has made a lot of noise with very little support.
The Redskins offense took a big hit this offseason, as Pierre Garcon left for San Francisco 49ers, while DeSean Jackson departed for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers through free agency. With a current receiving core of Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson, and newly-added receiver Terrell Pryor Sr, it will interesting to see if Cousins can continue to put up efficient numbers for the Skins.
At the end of it all, the Redskins need to invest in Cousins, as the 28-year old veteran is viewed as the current centerpiece of the organization. As the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants are favored to compete for the title of the NFC East during the 2017-18 season, the Redskins should focus on winning games, but should also focus on creating a sense of stability.
Matt Stafford (Detroit Lions)
2017 Salary: $22 mill
Detroit Lions quarterback Matt Stafford has been underrated for years, and doesn’t quite receive the respect he deserves. Much like Kirk Cousins, Stafford’s career starting quarterback record of 51-58 will not blow his critics away. On the other hand, through film and statistics, Stafford has proven himself to be a dominant quarterback.
Since 2011, Stafford has thrown for 4,000+ yards on every occasion, and has yet to miss a game due to injury since then. In fact, after the Lions finished 10-6 in Stafford’s first full season as a starter, he became the first Lions quarterback to lead the franchise to the postseason since Charlie Batch did it during the 2000-01 season.
The Lions have failed drastically when it comes to finding success at the quarterback position, but throughout the last eight years, Stafford has given the Detroit fan base a sense of hope. In a brutal NFC North, it’s hard to believe that Stafford won’t receive the payday he rightfully deserves.
Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints)
2017 Salary: $19 mill
Although Brees signed a five-year extension with the New Orleans Saints a few years back, the last three years within the deal are claimed to be “voidable years” by the NFL. To keep it simple, Brees will likely hit the free agency market at the end of the 2017-18 season, but remains fully committed to the Saints franchise.
Having played for New Orleans since 2006, Brees has earned every cent and accomplishment that has gone his way. Securing his first and only Super Bowl victory in 2010, the 38-year old will more than likely finish his career with the franchise he has fought alongside for over a decade.
Brees has lead the NFL in passing yards each of the last three seasons, and although he lacks supporting weapons, the Saints superstar has been labeled as one of the most elite quarterbacks in recent NFL history. Brees has never secured himself an MVP award, but his numbers are a completely different tale.
The Saints have yet to find a suitable heir to take over for Brees, but time is not on their side. With Chase Daniel seen as a temporary backup, and 26-year old Garrett Grayson set to become a restricted free agent after the 2018-19 season, the Saints should plan to focus on finding a replacement for Brees in the near future.
Sam Bradford (Minnesota Vikings)
2017 Salary: $18 mill
Was anyone else stunned at the season Bradford had in 2016? After filling in for injured starter Teddy Bridgewater, Bradford will likely be called upon once again, as Bridgewater will likely be sidelined for the most of the 2017-18 season. With an expiring contract, should the Vikings opt to make Bradford “the guy”?
Tossing for 3,877 yards, 20 touchdowns, and a limited 5 interceptions, Bradford even went on to lead the NFL in completion percentage last season (71.6%). While the Vikings missed the playoffs after finishing the season 7-8 under Bradford, I don’t believe the 29-year old deserves a lot of the given blame.
Bradford was signed on as a game manager for Minnesota, and he did exactly that. His numbers weren’t monstrous, but with Adrian Peterson missing most of last season, Bradford’s top weapon happened to be wide receiver Stefon Diggs.
As the Vikings offense continues to be viewed as unstable, it may be best if the franchise signs Bradford to a short-term extension. Considering the front office elected not to draft a quarterback during the 2017 NFL Draft, I would assume that Bradford is labeled as the answer for the Vikings (for now).
Josh McCown (New York Jets)
2017 Salary: $6.5 mill
Playing with the Cleveland Browns the last two seasons, Jets fans should not be too excited about McCown, as he holds a starting record of 3-10 over the last two years. The 38-year old has seen very little success through his NFL career, as his last respectable season came in 2013 with the Chicago Bears.
With Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenburg still young and in need of development, don’t be shocked if we see multiple starting quarterbacks as the season progresses. The Jets have made multiple moves indicating that they are hoping to “tank” this upcoming season, in hopes of receiving USC QB Sam Darnold.
All in all, I wouldn’t expect for McCown to be signed to an extension after the upcoming season, especially if the Jets place themselves perfectly within the upcoming NFL Draft. The veteran will likely go on to retire, but could also see some time as a backup for another franchise in the 2018 season.
Teddy Bridgewater (Minnesota Vikings)
2017 Salary: $2.18 mill
The Vikings seem to be giving Sam Bradford the nod at the moment, but don’t discount 24-year old Teddy Bridgewater. Due to a serious knee injury, the recommended rehabilitation time of Bridgewater may keep him out until 2018. On the other hand, reports have been released that the young talent was seen recently working out without his knee brace, which is an enormous sign of hope for the Vikings fan base.
Bridgewater last played in 2015, where he lead the franchise to a regular season record of 11-5, but ultimately lost to the Seattle Seahawks in a game that should have been theirs for the taking. While Bridgewater did have a healthy Adrian Peterson throughout the season, it would be interesting to speculate what Bridgewater could do within the current offensive system.
I don’t find it realistic that Bridgewater and Bradford will both be signed back to the Vikings roster, just because both quarterbacks will have hopes to become the starter. At the end of the day, I think if Bridgewater can continue to make strides to get back onto the field, the Vikings front office is going to face a very difficult decision.
Matt Moore (Miami Dolphins)
2017 Salary: $2.15 mill
Although Ryan Tannehill isn’t hitting the free agent market until 2021, Matt Moore could eventually get his payday for any franchise that is desperate for a starting quarterback. The 32-year old veteran lead the Dolphins to a 2-1 record last season, which was eventually ended in the first round of the postseason. As a whole, Moore threw for 721 yards, 8 touchdowns, and only let up 3 interceptions.
While he is aging, Moore did more than enough last season to prove that he has earned his shot as an eventual starter. Being sidelined from 2012-15 without a single snap, Moore will likely take his chances elsewhere when free agency comes around next year.
Will Moore live up to his own expectations? I would argue that it depends on the uniform he represents. If Moore winds up on a team such as the Jets or Saints, I don’t see a whole lot of success falling into his lap. On the contrary, if a franchise such as the Cardinals or the Jaguars peek interest, Moore could continue to impress his greatest critics.
Jimmy Garoppolo (New England Patriots)
2017 Salary: $1.1 mill
This question seems to be one of the hottest topics surrounding the NFL, and I understand why. After electing not to trade Garoppolo through the NFL Draft, fans are beginning to wonder whether the Patriots intend to keep the 25-year old after this season. With future Hall of Famer Tom Brady claiming to wish to play for six or seven more seasons, Garoppolo may be forced to play elsewhere.
Sure, Garoppolo could sit and await his turn after Brady retires, but a lot of offers could be made next year in order to pull Garoppolo away from New England. In two games last season, Garoppolo threw for 502 yards, 4 touchdowns, and didn’t happen to throw a single interception during Brady’s suspension. Will other franchises bite the bait on Garoppolo’s limited success? Just ask Brock Osweiler, who left the Denver Broncos a few years back in order to receive a payday, as well as starting quarterback money.
If I’m within the Patriots front office, I’m respectfully hoping that Brady intends to retire within the next two seasons, just so there can be a clean transition stage for the franchise. Garoppolo will need a worthy offer from the Patriots in order to remain with the franchise, because at the end of the day, the NFL is just a business.