The quarterback position is changing, whether or not we are ready for it. Not that the position will change into something we will not recognize, but the star quarterbacks in which we watch week after week. As some of the veterans begin to faze out of the NFL, a new chapter of players will become the next faces of the position.
We are too familiar with the young quarterbacks under 25 who are likely to run the league: Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Kyler Murray, Sam Darnold, and Josh Allen. We have a feeling those futures will be bright, but what about the quarterbacks in the 27-32 range? What about the “Journeyman”? How about the “Game Manager”?
Not every team can have a dynamic player under center. Sometimes you need to sign Kirk Cousins, trade for Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett, or stick with Derek Carr and Jameis Winston to the bitter end.
The Old Guard
Speaking of bitter end, there was a time when Dan Marino, John Elway, Jim Kelly, and Warren Moon were all old at the same time. Somehow, we ignored their football mortality while on the field before our very eyes. As we move into a new decade, some of the most-current famed quarterbacks may not be seen for much longer.
- Tom Brady (42)
- Drew Brees (40)
- Philip Rivers (38)
- Eli Manning (38)
- Ben Roethlisberger (37)
- Aaron Rodgers (36)
- Joe Flacco (34)
- Matt Ryan (34)
There are exceptions, such as Brady and Brees, who are able to quarterback an offense into their 40’s. However, most fans and executives would clamor for players like Matt Ryan and Philip Rivers: Non-Super Bowl winners, but can lead the franchise.
Obviously, you want to have Tom Brady on your team. You want Drew Brees at the helm, even with an injury here and there. Every so often, a team can end up with Kurt Warner, but most end up with Trent Green. Not every quarterback will lead you to the Super Bowl, but having aged veterans such as Ryan or Rivers can get you far.
Still In the League
- Josh McCown (40)
- Matt Schaub (38)
- Ryan Fitzpatrick (37)
- Matt Moore (35)
- Brian Hoyer (34)
If you can remember, Schaub was a decent starter for the Houston Texans until he flamed out. McCown has held on the longest, even though we didn’t expect him to be on a roster this year. Fitzpatrick, currently starting for the Miami Dolphins, has yet to see a playoff game. He has the strongest case to become the next “old guard”, but will any winning organization bring him in as the outright starter?
The Next Old Guard
So who is next to be the “older face” of the NFL? Think about the quarterbacks from ages 27-32 who could become the next crop that lead the new generation under 25 into the next decade.
- Colt McCoy (33)
- Andy Dalton (32)
- Russell Wilson (31)
- Kirk Cousins (31)
- Ryan Tannehill (31)
- Matthew Stafford (31)
- Case Keenum (31)
- Cam Newton (30)
- Tyrod Taylor (30)
- Nick Foles (30)
- Mike Glennon (30)
- Robert Griffin III (29)
- Matt Barkley (29)
- Derek Carr (28)
- Jimmy Garoppolo (28)
- Trevor Siemian (28)
- Teddy Bridgewater (27)
- Jacoby Brissett (27)
- Carson Wentz (27)
On this list, 13 of these quarterbacks started this season. Of that, five are within the playoffs (Wilson, Garoppolo, Wentz, Tannehill, Cousins). Wilson is above the rest, but somehow is tied with Nick Foles in Super Bowl victories.
Is there a chance Stafford becomes the modern day Philip Rivers? Will Andy Dalton resurface on another team after a poor tenure in Cincinnati?
Six Degrees of Quarterback Separation
It may never be noted in the NFL history books, but we should take a moment to revisit this list and who is on it. Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, and Colt McCoy were all on the same roster at one point. Cousins left the Washington Redskins for the Minnesota Vikings, who had Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater, and Sam Bradford. Keenum ended up on the Denver Broncos, only to be replaced by Trevor Siemian.
Ryan Tannehill, originally drafted by the Dolphins, replaced Marcus Mariota for the Tennessee Titans. Is it odd that Matt Barkley, Mike Glennon and David Carr were all on the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders, or that Jacoby Brissett and Jimmy Garoppolo were both New England Patriots?
Has anyone remembered to not forget about Andrew Luck’s abrupt retirement a week before the regular season started? Tom Brady lost a season to a torn ACL, Ben Roethlisberger has seen the injury report for most of his career, Drew Brees was a few inches away from never throwing again, and even Aaron Rodgers has slowed down.
Injuries pretty much ended the “franchise” career of Griffin, while Cam Newton, Matt Stafford and Ben Roethlisberger will end the year on the injured list. Teddy Bridgewater, who temporarily replaced Drew Brees this season, was able to keep the New Orleans Saints undefeated until Brees returned.
No matter how many franchise quarterbacks fill these rosters, there will always be teams looking for veteran quarterbacks in hopes of winning immediately. Nick Foles was brought into Jacksonville, Jacoby Brissett joined Indianapolis, and Kirk Cousins signed with Minnesota. Foles received a payday this past offseason in the hopes he could lead the Jaguars, only to lose the job twice to Gardner Minshew III.
The Next Quarterback Journeyman
There are two football idioms that may never make into 2020: Game Manager and Journeyman. It is difficult for some to separate a player’s talent from their win-loss record, deeming quarterbacks who have not lived up to expectations as “journeymen”.
We have witnessed the inexact science of finding a franchise quarterback via the Denver Broncos. Take a look at Brock Osweiler, Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch or Case Keenum. Striking gold in the NFL Draft can become a chase due to the demands of a win-now era. If your team isn’t fortunate enough to have Patrick Mahomes, then maybe trying your luck with Jameis Winston or Cam Newton could get your team closer to the ultimate goal.
The Future Is Bright For Veteran Quarterbacks
Cam Newton could be on the market next summer, Tom Brady has thrown hints at changing scenery, and Ben Roethlisberger is nearing the end of his career. Not having a franchise quarterback drives teams to make difficult quarterback decisions, whether it’s through the draft, trade or free agency. Once the familiar faces start to disappear, there will be another crop of veteran quarterback ready to take the torch for the NFL.
Photo Credit: Steve Limentani – ISI Photos