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Charles Krupa/Associated Press
The constant turnover at the NFL‘s quarterback position doesn’t figure to slow in 2020.
Painting in broad strokes, teams seem to have less patience with the most important position in sports. The Arizona Cardinals quickly dumping Josh Rosen for Kyler Murray seemed to be foreshadowing. This offseason, big names like Tom Brady and Philip Rivers changed teams, while notables like Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota sit in backup roles and Cam Newton remains on the open market.
Last season, veterans Eli Manning and Andy Dalton lost their jobs. This year could feature more of the same, especially in organizations not tied to the current starter for the long term or outright rebuilding and willing to see what it has down the depth chart.
The following quarterbacks are the likeliest to lose their jobs in 2020, with rankings based on a team’s contention or rebuilding status, the presence of quality options behind the starter, age and both past and projected production.
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Alex Brandon/Associated Press
The Washington Redskins didn’t give Dwayne Haskins a fair shake as a rookie, keeping him from the starting job in favor of journeyman Case Keenum while firing Jay Gruden early in the season.
Haskins eventually got in and showed some promise but settled on a 58.6 completion percentage with as many touchdowns as interceptions.
This offseason, Washington hired Ron Rivera as head coach and overhauled the front office. Rivera also quietly made a move for Kyle Allen via trade with his former Carolina Panthers, acquiring a 24-year-old passer who completed 62.0 percent of his 489 attempts last year while tossing 17 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
Haskins is clearly the starter going into 2020. Yet such significant organizational overhauls usually don’t bode well for quarterbacks under these circumstances. And this one is especially unique with the new head coach already bringing on a young signal-caller from his last team. If Haskins struggles early, will a coaching staff that didn’t draft him look in a different direction?
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Charlie Riedel/Associated Press
The Indianapolis Colts’ addition of Philip Rivers was one of the bigger quarterback moves of the offseason, but it wasn’t met with nearly the amount of fanfare Tom Brady received when he left New England.
Rivers will play for a new team for the first time since entering the league in 2004, and the plan is clear: Get the Colts back to contending.
And while it sounds good on paper, Rivers is now 38 years old and took a notable step back last season. He mustered more than 4,600 yards through the air in 2019, yet managed just 23 touchdowns and 20 interceptions while going 5-11, taking the Los Angeles Chargers from 12 wins to five.
This all comes with a disclaimer: Rivers will get to play in front of a superb offensive line in Indianapolis. But joining a new team at this stage of his career is a red flag (an unorthodox summer amplifies this) regardless of the surrounding pieces.
Rivers is a luxury acquisition for a team that didn’t want to miss out on a chance to contend given its current roster build. But it also means the Colts have one of the league’s better backups in Jacoby Brissett, who could again find himself in a starting role in 2020 if Rivers’ regression last year was a sign of things to come.
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Julio Cortez/Associated Press
Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots have made it clear Jarrett Stidham is the guy to replace Tom Brady.
New England’s refusal to go after a bigger name during a rich offseason for quarterbacks speaks to the team’s confidence in Stidham (with cap and asset preservation seemingly a determining factor). But he’s merely a 2019 fourth-round pick with four career passing attempts to his name, highlighted by a turnover.
Stidham might go into the season as the starter, but New England has a contingency plan if Stidham struggles. The Patriots signed 34-year-old Brian Hoyer in March. Typically, that wouldn’t register as much more than a veteran depth addition, but it’s important to keep in mind Hoyer has had two prior stints in New England and even attempted 65 passes last year in Indianapolis.
If the Patriots see enough of Stidham and his play reinforces the idea that 2020 is nothing more than a transitional year as opposed to Year 1 of a new era, it won’t be long before Hoyer makes an appearance under center.
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John Raoux/Associated Press
The Chicago Bears traded for Nick Foles this offseason, reuniting him with quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo in a move that clearly signals he’ll get every chance to start over Mitchell Trubisky in 2020.
And while head coach Matt Nagy said both quarterbacks will get a chance to play with the starters this preseason, Trubisky’s 17 touchdowns in 15 games while the Bears stumbled to 8-8 hints the job will go to the veteran.
But the problem with the plan is Foles. He’s merely a 61.9 percent passer since entering the league in 2012. His postseason accolades lead the resume, but he hasn’t seen significant regular-season playing time since 2015 and boasts a career 26-22 record with a touchdown percentage of just 4.2, a mark that would’ve ranked him 20th last season.
Chicago would like the Foles addition to work after regressing from 12 wins to eight a year ago. But Foles’ track record combined with an unpredictable offseason could lead to initial struggles that have the Bears eventually turning back to Trubisky.
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Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press
The Jacksonville Jaguars moved Nick Foles and didn’t make a big splash on the quarterback market otherwise, all while entering a big rebuilding stage via other talent departures.
For now at least, that means 2019 sixth-round pick Gardner Minshew II gets the nod under center. As a rookie, he completed 60.6 percent of his passes with 21 scores and six interceptions, going 6-6 with a 42.6 QBR, ranking him 26th.
As promising as Minshew looked at times last year, his surroundings don’t seem poised to help him much. The Jaguars went out and signed 30-year-old Mike Glennon in May, with coach Doug Marrone talking up Glennon’s familiarity with the offense. The team had also previously traded for Joshua Dobbs, a 2017 fourth-round pick, last year.
In what is obviously a rebuilding year, the Jaguars feel like a team that could start a trio of players at quarterback by season’s end.
If Minshew struggles early—and he could with Indianapolis, Tennessee and Houston three of his first five opponents—one of the names behind him might assume the starter role early.
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Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press
Cincinnati is the only place where a high-profile rookie unquestionably has the starting job locked down.
Which means Tyrod Taylor is bound to start 2020 over No. 6 pick Justin Herbert for the Los Angeles Chargers.
All signs have pointed toward Taylor getting the nod in 2020, even before the draft. Some of this may have been predraft smoke to keep other teams away from Herbert, but even NBC Sports’ Peter King wrote the following: “Anthony Lynn doesn’t view—at least now—Tyrod Taylor as a bridge quarterback. He thinks he can be a good NFL starter.”
Taylor will turn 31 in August and is only a career 61.6 percent passer who has 85 or fewer attempts in each of the last two seasons. But there’s a reason Cleveland wanted him in the room with Baker Mayfield and now Los Angeles with Herbert.
The Chargers are in at least a mini-rebuild now after regressing from 12 wins to five last year and don’t have a major reason to rush Herbert out there. But while the Oregon product also fell to become the third quarterback off the board, a combination of fan support and Taylor’s play will get Herbert in there during a transitional year.
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Charles Krupa/Associated Press
The whole world seems to know what the plan is for the Miami Dolphins.
In fact, Tua Tagovailoa to the Dolphins in the first round of this year’s draft seemed like one of the big event’s most obvious storylines.
Yet given some of the injury questions and basic hurdles facing a rookie, the starting gig figures to belong to Ryan Fitzpatrick out of the gate. It makes sense on multiple levels, including on-field performance. Last year, while he only threw for 20 scores and went 5-8, Fitzpatrick still tied for fourth in the NFL with four game-winning drives.
Fitzpatrick is 37 years old and gives what looks like an improving roster a fighting chance. But more importantly, he’s one of the better veterans in the league to have on hand to mentor a top-five pick like Tagovailoa.
Fitzpatrick’s play won’t hold off the fan-backed Tagovailoa hype, though, eventually relegating him to sage-veteran status as the next franchise passer takes over for the Dolphins.