The 2020 NFL offseason is essentially, aside from a few names still sitting on the free agent market, wrapped up. Most teams, either via the draft or free agency, have addressed the most important position on their roster — the quarterback.
But did these teams get it right? Or, did they pass on a better option that was available?
Let’s take a look at where the 2020 free agent quarterbacks who changed teams, or are still available, should have landed.
Redoing the offseason and deciding where each 2020 free agent quarterback should have landed
Cam Newton – Chicago Bears
Newton recently inked a one-year deal to join Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots after sitting on the free agent market far longer than he, or anyone else for that matter, might have anticipated.
While Newton may not be able to recapture his MVP play from a few years ago, when he led the Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl, he presents a clear upgrade from what the Bears could be trotting out for the 2020 season.
Andy Dalton – Los Angeles Chargers
After his long-expected release from the Cincinnati Bengals, Dalton took a solid deal to play backup to Dak Prescott with the Dallas Cowboys.
The Cowboys were smart, as they not only brought in a proven starter to their quarterback room but added some insurance in case their ongoing contract negotiations with Prescott take a bad turn.
However, Dalton may have been a better fit for the Chargers.
With the Miami Dolphins selecting Tua Tagovailoa in the 2020 NFL Draft, one spot ahead of the Chargers, Los Angeles took Justin Herbert to be their quarterback of the future. However, with a roster as talented as the Chargers, they could afford to bring in a veteran for one-year (or more) to give the team a shot a competing for the playoffs.
Doing so also provides them the opportunity to let Herbert sit for a bit, develop, and learn.
Given that Dalton and former franchise quarterback Philip Rivers aren’t exactly polar opposites in terms of play, and agility, Dalton could have, in theory, plugged right into the offense.
Jameis Winston – Jacksonville Jaguars
Winston landed with the New Orleans Saints, who seem to be set in Taysom Hill as their quarterback of the future, which is why his agent should be gauging the interest of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Jacksonville is set to roll with Gardner Minshew as their quarterback, and while Minshew showed some potential in 2019, another young signal-caller, with veteran experience, could have helped.
Winston was a turnover machine during his time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but sometimes a change of scenery can help. Winston on a “prove it” deal would have given the Jags another option aside from Minshew and Josh Dobbs, some welcomed competition, and some name value.
The Jags are on an odd rebuild course, and if the quarterback position isn’t settled, what harm does it cause to kick the tires on a young, former first-round draft pick?
Now, Winston will learn from Drew Brees and may show the Saints another option for who takes the reigns when Brees calls it quits.
Marcus Mariota – New England Patriots
The Patriots certainly didn’t go wrong in landing Newton, but assuming that Newton landed in Chicago, New England could have kicked the tires on former Tennessee Titan Marcus Mariota.
It’s fair to assume Mariota may get a shot with the Las Vegas Raiders, considering Derek Carr isn’t exactly seen as a favorite of Jon Gruden, but seeing Mariota developed under Belichick could have unlocked the potential the Titans saw when they drafted him.
Mariota comes with plenty of athletic ability, and his 89.6 career QBR suggests that he will get another chance to start.
At only 26 years old, Mariota is still young enough to be developed, and who better to do that than arguably the greatest head coach of all time?
Colin Kaepernick – Indianapolis Colts
If NFL teams are truly interested in Colin Kaepernick, as reports this offseason have indicated, then the Indianapolis Colts should have been a landing spot.
Right now, 38-year old Rivers, who is coming off a 23 touchdown 20 interception campaign in his final season with the Chargers, is the starter, and that shouldn’t sit well with Colts fans.
Supporters will point to Rivers’ 4,600+ passing yards and 66% completion percentage, but others will point to a declining quarterback whose best days are behind him.
It’s clear that the Colts aren’t planning a future with Jacoby Brissett, and Colts’ general manager Chris Ballard recently discussed the team not signing Kaepernick in 2017. Fast forward to today and are the Colts really that much better with an aged Rivers at the helm?
Bringing in Kaepernick would provide some great competition, and send an incredible message to not only the fans but given the current cultural climate — the world.
And, on paper, a 31-year old Kaepernick could be an upgrade over a 38-year old Rivers, who is only on a one-year deal.
Blake Bortles – Kansas City Chiefs
After locking up franchise quarterback Patrick Mahomes to a record-breaking ten-year contract extension earlier this week, the defending Super Bowl Champions only have veteran Chad Henne as the other quarterback on their roster.
So, if the absolute worst thing happens, prepare for Henne.
Sure, the team could bring back Matt Moore, but is that any better?
Bortles landed in a decent situation with the Los Angeles Rams, but playing backup to Patrick Mahomes could have significantly boosted his value on the free agent market in 2021, especially if the Chiefs take home the Lombardi Trophy again.
Bortles may have been brutal, at times, in Jacksonville, but he still could offer a better, more athletic option under center that Henne, should the Chiefs need to go to another option.
It’s also safe to say that Andy Reid is far superior at developing quarterbacks, and everything else associated with coaching, then Doug Marrone, who had been at the helm for Bortles in Jacksonville. So maybe Bortles actually improves in Kansas City.
Philip Rivers – Cleveland Browns
Sure, I argued that Rivers was on the decline, and maybe not the best option for the Colts, but imagine him with the Cleveland Browns instead.
Pardon me, while I contradict my entire argument against Rivers in Indy, to make an argument for Rivers in Cleveland.
The Browns have the talent but have gone from everyone’s playoff darlings, and in some cases, Super Bowl favorite, to somewhat of a clown show.
With talents like Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, the Browns are a solid, mature quarterback away from competing for the playoffs, and then some.
Baker Mayfield may end up being the franchise quarterback that Browns fans are hoping he will be, or he may flop as his 2019 season warned, but we can all agree that there needs to be some veteran leadership in that quarterback room.
Imagine Rivers in that room. Rivers helping develop Mayfield. Rivers throwing touchdowns to Beckham, Landry, and new tight end Austin Hooper.
The story almost writes itself.
Rivers could get one last real shot at Super Bowl glory with a Browns team, and the Browns could have received their first real shot at a Super Bowl with Rivers guiding them and developing Mayfield in the process.
A complete “win-win”.
However, Rivers is in Indy, where the fit isn’t as “right” and Mayfield is still number one in Cleveland, where it seems another short-term fix at head coach is at the helm.