The NFL’s hot stove league gets under way on Thursday with the advent of free agency, and there is a lot of top-shelf talent to be had.
As a quarterback-driven league, it’s hard to win in the NFL without a quality signal-caller. Will QB-needy teams be able to find answers in free agency? Well, kind of, once some guys are released or perhaps tagged/traded.
The Dallas Cowboys will likely release Tony Romo shortly. When that happens, look for Denver to make a run at the talented, but oft-injured quarterback. He can still play, but after three back procedures, and three broken collarbones, will he be able to stay healthy?
If the Chicago Bears sign free agent QB Mike Glennon, they will release Jay Cutler, their starter the last eight seasons. Like Romo, Cutler has taken a beating over the years, so you have to wonder where he’s at physically. He’s coming off shoulder surgery and has been sacked 302 times in his NFL career (and plenty of times at Vanderbilt). However, he still has a rifle arm, and should land a job, but his Trump support might not play well in some locker rooms. For some reason a lot of players don’t like Trump. It’s unclear why.
The San Francisco 49ers need a quarterback. Activist QB Colin Kaepernick opted out of his 2017 contract, making him a free agent. Now that he doesn’t have a guaranteed contract and needs a job, he will stand for the national anthem. The whole kneeling thing might not be good for business.
Where Kaepernick and his Castro-shirt and cop/pig socks land is anybody’s guess, but as for his former team, they have $90.6 million in cap space and will be major players in the QB hot stove league.
There are rumors the 49ers could trade for Washington Redskins QB Kirk Cousins in a blockbuster deal. New 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan coached Cousins in Washington, and is a big fan of the player. The Redskins and Cousins are far apart in contract negotiations.
If the 49ers don’t land Cousins, they will likely sign Brian Hoyer, who played under Shanahan in Cleveland.
The New York Jets, who moved on from QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, are also interested in Hoyer.
So expect a lot of quarterback activity from the get-go in free agency.
Here are scouting reports on the some of the top free agent quarterbacks:
Mike Glennon, Buccaneers 6-6, 225 • 27-years-old
Glennon started 18 games his first two years, throwing 30 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He was strictly a backup in 2015-16 due to the arrival of Jameis Winston, but he is a pure pro-style QB with a good arm whose great height helps him see the field well. His accuracy is a little inconsistent and he has average mobility.
Brian Hoyer, Bears 6-2, 215 • 31
The journeyman Hoyer, who has played for six teams, has 31 career starts, tossing 44 touchdowns and 26 interceptions. In 2016, he did a decent job in Chicago filling in for the injured Jay Cutler before breaking his arm. Hoyer is a serviceable game-manager who reads defenses fairly well and has an adequate arm.
Case Keenum, Rams 6-1, 205 • 29
The record-breaking college QB has had two stints with both the Texans and Rams, throwing 24 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in 24 NFL starts. Keenum led Los Angeles to a 4-5 start last season before being replaced, and the team failed to win another game. He is a streaky passer who set a Rams record with 19 completions in a row against Detroit. He can be a decent starter thanks to tons of valuable game experience.
Matt Barkley, Bears 6-2, 227 • 26
Barkley did an OK job starting six games in 2016 for the injured Cutler and Hoyer, throwing eight touchdowns behind a patchwork offensive line. He is a pure pro-style QB who has a high football IQ and is good at pre-snap reads. He has an average arm, so he needs his feet set to make certain throws. Barkley is a good fit for a West Coast offense with short-intermediate throws.
Josh McCown, Browns 6-4, 218 • 37
A journeyman who has eight NFL teams, McCown was 1-10 as a starter in Cleveland in 2015-16 and is somewhat injury-prone (concussion, broken ribs and two broken collarbones). He has 60 career starts over 14 NFL seasons tossing 79 touchdowns to 69 interceptions. In his prime, McCown had great speed and arm strength, but both have slipped with age.
Matt McGloin, Raiders 6-1, 210 • 27
McGloin is an underrated player. Does he have a rocket arm? No, but he has a great feel for the position, terrific instincts, and can manage a game. He is the perfect “hold-the-fort” QB for a team with a developmental signal-caller not yet ready to play.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jets 6-2, 225 • 34
Fitzpatrick is about to join his seventh team once signed. Why does he keep getting contracts? He’s a serviceable QB in a league with a QB shortage. Fitzpatrick had a career year in 2015 with 31 touchdowns and only 15 interceptions. He had a rough season in 2016, but wasn’t the Jets biggest problem. It was pass defense.