Let’s play out the NFL offseason QB market: We beget touchdown spots for Fields, Wilson and top prospects

  • NFL Nation, ESPNJan 31, 2024, 07: 00 AM ET

It can perhaps very smartly be but every other appealing NFL offseason for quarterback motion. Kirk Cousins and Baker Mayfield are free agents, and just a few huge-name quarterbacks could be half of them on the birth market if their teams agree with a substitute. Plus, the Bears could shake up the QB dominoes with their looming possibility on whether or now not to help Justin Fields or tap into an awfully magnificent quarterback draft class, which starts on the head with Caleb Williams. In all, more than a dozen teams could dart on from their most unique initiating signal-caller.

We requested our NFL Nation journalists to help as total managers for the teams they quilt and obtain what to enact on the fundamental voice in football. The stand-in GMs made selections on their most unique starters, effect together substitute packages for passers who could very smartly be made on hand by their teams and came up with contract terms for free agents. They also projected extensions and cap casualty cuts. And at final, they mocked the first three rounds of the 2024 draft to address the longer term. This exercise changed into as soon as dinky to quarterbacks who would both initiate or compete to initiate in 2024, other than some Day 2 draft picks who will practically without a doubt take a seat in Yr 1, wherever they land.

So which teams obtain up a brand unusual initiating quarterback in our motion simulation of the following few months? Let’s predict the offseason’s initiating QB modifications with hypothetical substitute packages, free agent signings and draft picks.

Soar to:

Trades | Tags/extensions

Cuts | Free agency | Draft

Elephantine QB lineup projection


The previous few offseasons agree with brought just a few huge quarterback trades, in conjunction with Aaron Rodgers going to the Jets, Deshaun Watson becoming a member of the Browns and Russell Wilson heading to the Broncos. We is now not going to search a deal of that stage over the following few months, however a minimal of one initiating-stage quarterback could very smartly be desirous a pair of substitute. Here’s one dart to kick us off.

Justin Fields

2023 group: Bears

Contract effect: Fields has but every other twelve months left with the Bears on his rookie deal, which is in a suite to pay him $3.2 million in 2024 and ticket $6 million in opposition to the cap. A possibility on whether or now not to earn or decline his fifth-twelve months option for 2025 is due Would maybe perhaps maybe additionally merely 2, and it would ticket $22 million.

The Raiders’ provide: On this scenario, the Raiders supplied 2nd- and seventh-round picks in the 2024 draft for Fields. Champ Kelly, who changed into as soon as their intervening time GM in the final half of the 2023 season, changed into as soon as with the Bears after they drafted Fields, and even though Tom Telesco changed into as soon as employed as total supervisor, Kelly stays with Las Vegas as assistant GM. Some of this would perhaps well hinge on how Telesco and whomever the Raiders rent as the offensive coordinator peek Fields. Nonetheless it without a doubt makes financial sense for the Raiders on memoir of Fields — a 3-twelve months NFL vet who’s youthful than rookie Aidan O’Connell — is on his rookie contract and beneath group retain an eye fixed on for the next two years.

Las Vegas wants a protracted-timeframe solution beneath middle for Antonio Pierce (who had the intervening time ticket eradicated from his head-coach title), and it is seemingly to dart on from expensive vet Jimmy Garoppolo, who didn’t determine after signing with the Raiders final offseason. Fields threw for 2,562 yards, 16 touchdown passes and nine interceptions over 13 video games, and he rushed for 657 yards and four scores on the floor. — Paul Gutierrez, Raiders reporter

Why the Bears agreed: Chicago total supervisor Ryan Poles has continuously talked about the “queer” voice the Bears gain themselves in this offseason with the No. 1 obtain, which they didn’t agree with by the utilize of their beget picture (Carolina’s obtain). The Bears agree with a gamble to insert the head QB in the draft class onto a group that has a stable basis on offense and thought of one of the most league’s top defenses, which would maybe flip them into a contender by subsequent season.

So while the Bears could merely or could merely now not are desirous to dart on from Fields, in the occasion that they web a proposal enjoy this one — which permits them to recoup an early 2nd-round draft obtain — they’d agree with a difficult time announcing no. — Courtney Cronin, Bears reporter


As things stand correct now, there are just a few standout quarterbacks advance the top of the upcoming free agent class, in conjunction with a previous No. 1 obtain who factual led his group to the divisional round. Teams quiet agree with a gamble to both re-signal or franchise-ticket their pending free agents, however, so we requested our reporter GMs whether or now not their group would ticket or delay its starter sooner than free agency opens. Two of them did …

Kirk Cousins

2023 group: Vikings

The Vikings’ possibility: Cousins’ deal doesn’t void till after the decrease-off date for franchise tags, so this would be an extension. He has continuously said he wants to total his profession in Minnesota, and as he departed the locker room for the offseason, Cousins left the determined impression that he hoped the Vikings’ provide would mirror a identical wish.

“It be now not in regards to the dollars,” he said, “however it is about what the dollars picture.”

In assorted phrases, Cousins — who threw 18 touchdown passes in eight video games this season — is doubtlessly now not to be in the hunt for a picture-breaking deal with regards to moderate annual wage, however he does need the Vikings to abet up no topic commitment they agree with with assured money. Drafting at No. 11, Minnesota is doubtlessly now not to beget considered one of the most head-tier quarterbacks in the category, so it makes sense to ship abet Cousins. So in this case, let’s re-signal him to a two-twelve months, $85 million fully assured extension. That affords the Vikings two years — till Cousins is 38 years damaged-down — to draft and develop his successor. — Kevin Seifert, Vikings reporter

Baker Mayfield

2023 group: Buccaneers

The Buccaneers’ possibility: With more than one excessive-profile free agents in the combine, I’m signing Mayfield to an extension and preserving my franchise ticket alternate choices birth for security Antoine Winfield Jr. or receiver Mike Evans. The utilize of Geno Smith‘s deal from final offseason as a template however factoring in some cap inflation, I’m doing three years and $80 million with escalators that can bolster the contract up over $100 million. Mayfield would maybe be 29 years damaged-down when subsequent season kicks off (Smith signed his unusual deal final twelve months at age 32), has two playoff wins beneath his belt and threw for 4,000 yards this previous season.

The Bucs will agree with wage cap dwelling in the $40 million to $50 million vary and could well soak up this via void years — or they would possibly be able to backload the deal, as the Seahawks did with Smith. The scale of the contract affords ample steadiness to be more than a bridge deal however affords all events some level of flexibility, pondering Mayfield has had some injure points. — Jenna Laine, Buccaneers reporter


Our stand-in GMs also projected just a few cuts earlier than the free agent negotiation window that will perhaps shake up the quarterback market. The cuts encompass a previous Gargantuan Bowl champion wanting for a initiating job:

Russell Wilson

Why the Broncos dart on: When Denver coach Sean Payton benched Wilson with two video games final in the season, he signaled a dart in direction of a divorce from the 35-twelve months-damaged-down quarterback and that five-twelve months, $245 million extension signed in 2022. And while Payton and total supervisor George Paton agree with each left the door ajar on Wilson’s return, the Broncos are more seemingly to grab an $85 million slow money hit over the next two years and reset on the voice. — Jeff Legwold, Broncos reporter


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Kimberley A. Martin: Russell Wilson substitute is considered one of the most worst in NFL historical previous

Kimberley A. Martin breaks down why the Broncos’ substitute for Russell Wilson is considered one of the most worst in NFL historical previous.

Some assorted possible cuts round the league: Four assorted passers had been talked about as imaginable cuts, however none of them is seemingly to agree with a initiating job in 2024. That checklist involves Garoppolo (Raiders), Mac Jones (Patriots), Zach Wilson (Jets) and Taylor Heinicke (Falcons).


OK, we’re on to free agency. Our journalists — serving as their teams’ GMs — made contract affords to top free agent QBs, initiating with one who changed into as soon as factual decrease in our projection.

Russell Wilson

2023 group: Broncos

The unusual contract with Atlanta: Three years, $36 million, with $20 million assured. I would frontload the contract with $15 million fully assured in 2024, $12 million in 2025 ($5 million fully assured) and $9 million in 2026. We would encompass NLTBE incentives (classified as doubtlessly now not to be earned) each twelve months of $1 million for an NFC South title with Wilson playing 80% of the in vogue-season snaps, $500,000 for each playoff pick by which he performs 75% of the snaps, a further $1.5 million if he reaches the Gargantuan Bowl while playing in 75% of the playoff snaps and a further $2.5 million if he wins a Gargantuan Bowl while playing 75% of the snaps.

How he suits with the Falcons: The Falcons learned this season what beneath-moderate quarterback play can enact to a franchise’s playoff hopes. Proprietor Arthur Clean and CEO Properly off McKay made it determined the thought is to come to a decision with this roster, and Wilson is more than seemingly the greatest option available and has the most abilities. The group round him would seize stress off Wilson, with playmakers Bijan Robinson, Tyler Allgeier, Drake London and Kyle Pitts all voice for big roles in 2024. And the contract terms also allow for a pretty painless separation if it doesn’t determine. I considered as a Fields substitute, too, however here Atlanta retains its 2nd-round obtain and gets a quarterback toughen on a magnificent deal for coach Raheem Morris. — Michael Rothstein, Falcons reporter

Gardner Minshew

2023 group: Colts

The unusual contract with Denver: Two years, $14 million, fully assured. The deal would add in $500,000 if Denver wins the AFC West and $250,000 if it makes the playoffs, plus $500,000 for playing 70% of the offensive snaps and but every other $500,000 for 80%.

How he suits with the Broncos: The Broncos would be eating a huge chunk of money after cutting Wilson, and they are now not deciding on excessive ample in the draft to land considered one of the most head three alternate choices. They’ll agree with Jarrett Stidham in the 2nd twelve months of a two-twelve months, $10 million deal, however Minshew suits Payton’s offense smartly and has shown he’s in total a serviceable starter after leading the Colts to a nine-pick season after Anthony Richardson (shoulder) went down. Minshew is youthful than Jameis Winston and ought to quiet be in Denver’s ticket vary. The Broncos would maybe be a cap-pinched group this offseason. — Jeff Legwold, Broncos reporter

Jacoby Brissett

2023 group: Commanders

The unusual contract with Unusual England: Two years, $15 million, with $7.5 million assured and a signing bonus. We could additionally scheme in incentives in accordance with starts.

How he suits with the Patriots: The Patriots are seemingly going to address the initiating quarterback voice in the draft, however this dart permits for some damaged-down competition and a fallback if the first-round obtain is now not ready but. Brissett signed a one-twelve months, $8 million deal in Washington final twelve months, so the financial terms here seem to be primarily primarily based on his market. — Mike Reiss, Patriots reporter


There are quiet free agents on hand who could doubtlessly initiate in a pinch (Ryan Tannehill?), however the quarterback market has in actual fact come all of the procedure down to the draft in our simulation. Our journalists persisted serving as their teams’ total managers and performed out the quarterback-simplest picks for the first three rounds — in conjunction with just a few picks correct on the head of Spherical 1. (Show: We didn’t venture trades here.)

1. Bears: Caleb Williams, USC

It be hard to ascertain the Bears trading the No. 1 obtain in abet-to-abet years after they agree with the likelihood to grab Williams — who gifts as a wiser NFL prospect than Fields — and reset the quarterback clock. Williams threw 72 touchdown passes over the previous two seasons. We traded Fields to Las Vegas in the simulation and web to initiate over in Shane Waldron’s offense with the head QB in the category. — Courtney Cronin, Bears reporter

2. Commanders: Drake Maye, North Carolina

Even supposing Sam Howell flashed as a starter this previous season, he ended with 21 touchdown passes and 21 interceptions, and he didn’t produce the season sturdy. With a brand unusual front voice of job and coach, the Commanders will need their beget man to develop. This could occasionally perhaps well factual as without problems were LSU’s Jayden Daniels — and in the stay, he could very smartly be the man for Washington, as a consequence of his playmaking skill. Great of this relies on who gets the coaching job. Nonetheless for now, Maye’s arm energy and size — he’s the the same height as Daniels however weighs round 30 pounds more — give him the threshold. — John Keim, Commanders reporter

3. Patriots: Jayden Daniels, LSU

Correct as DeMeco Ryans and C.J. Stroud created an exhilarating coach-QB reboot in Houston, Unusual England would be reckoning on a Jerod Mayo/Daniels mixture sparking identical hope. It is awfully exhausting to dart on Ohio Order receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. here, however the Patriots badly desire a quarterback, and Daniels’ dual-threat skill voice could in the kill stable the voice for the next decade. And seize into consideration, we signed Brissett, so Daniels could very smartly be eased into the combine as a change of thrown correct into the fireplace. — Mike Reiss, Patriots reporter

39. Giants: Michael Penix Jr., Washington

Possibly the Giants in the kill try to substitute into the abet stay of Spherical 1 to stable the fifth-twelve months option on a quarterback, however they web their obtain of the next tier advance the head of Spherical 2. I went with Penix over Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy in this scenario on memoir of of his huge arm and skill to web the ball downfield. That makes him an supreme fit for Brian Daboll’s offense. This is pointless to bid contingent on Penix’s bodily going smartly, given his intensive injure historical previous (two shoulder injuries, two knee injuries). The obtain affords Unusual York alternate choices ought to quiet Daniel Jones now not rebound in 2024 after getting back from his torn ACL. — Jordan Raanan, Giants reporter

42. Vikings: J.J. McCarthy, Michigan

The Vikings would be thrilled with this outcome, whether or now not they web McCarthy by the utilize of a substitute up into the first round or by having him tumble to them on Day 2. Oregon’s Bo Nix changed into as soon as also on hand here, and he’ll were the alternative if Cousins hadn’t been re-signed. Nonetheless with the damaged-down beneath contract for the next couple of years in this scenario, the Vikings agree with a protracted runway to develop McCarthy, who’s 21 years damaged-down. — Kevin Seifert, Vikings reporter


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J.J. McCarthy picks up huge first down with his legs

J.J. McCarthy avoids the push and picks up the first down with a 22-yard bustle.

74. Falcons: Bo Nix, Oregon

This is pure payment at this level in the draft for the Falcons, who could remake their quarterback room beneath their unusual coaching personnel. With Wilson signed as the locked-in starter for wherever from one to three seasons, Nix could merely additionally be developed. Nix has shown improve yearly in his profession, ending 77% of his passes this season with 45 touchdown throws and three interceptions. So he’s price taking a gamble on at this level in the draft with the figuring out he and Desmond Ridder could fight for the No. 2 voice. — Michael Rothstein, Falcons reporter

76. Broncos: Michael Pratt, Tulane

The Broncos would maybe be coping with a magnificent wage cap after releasing Wilson, limiting what they would possibly be able to enact at quarterback. With factual six picks in this draft — in conjunction with simplest two in the first two rounds — additionally they form now not agree with the firepower to substitute up for somebody, and they need their future draft capital to toughen an growing older roster. Nonetheless Pratt would give Payton a floor-floor rookie to work into his offense from the initiate. He’s huge and bodily, showcases top-shelf throwing mechanics, and processes smartly. Pratt could very smartly be reasonably of a reach in Spherical 3, however he’s quiet an ascending prospect and is price a protracted search. — Jeff Legwold, Broncos reporter

84. Steelers: Jordan Travis, Florida Order

At his stay-of-season news conference, coach Mike Tomlin said Kenny Pickett will resume his effect as the group’s initiating quarterback in 2024 however will agree with competition. Travis’ season ended in advance with a left decrease-leg injure that will seemingly hamper him in the pre-draft review period, however taking a swing on him will agree with huge upside for the Steelers. Travis is undersized, however his mobility, playmaking skill and pocket presence agree with him an appealing prospect in a league that more and more values quarterbacks with versatile skill items to bustle the offense. — Brooke Pryor, Steelers reporter


With the dust deciding on our mocked quarterback motion, let’s seize stock of how each group’s starter bid would search. This involves just a few scenarios the effect there would be competition in training camp and the early facets of the 2024 season.

And seize into consideration, there are heaps of quarterbacks who’re free agents and ought to quiet signal on as excessive-stay backups. That involves Tannehill, Winston, Drew Lock, Joshua Dobbs, Marcus Mariota, Sam Darnold and Joe Flacco. Plus, South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler didn’t dart in the first three rounds of our mini mock draft, and he could push a starter as a Day 3 obtain if he lands in the glorious bid.

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