Draft Season Never Ends: NFL Quarterback Carousel

There are at least a dozen NFL teams who have questions to answer about the future of the quarterback position this offseason. With so many teams needing new QBs, who might get left out and how will it impact this year’s NFL draft?

You can find every episode on Anchor, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, YouTube or wherever you find your podcasts. As always, I appreciate reviews, feedback and when you hit that subscribe button.

How the Raiders can replace Derek Carr and where Carr could land in 2023

Carr’s completion percentage dipped to 60.8 percent this year, down from 68.4 percent a year ago. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Raiders are not officially eliminated from playoff contention, but they are already preparing for 2023. To be fair, their playoff odds are long, needing wins over the 49ers and Chiefs to close the season along with a litany of other results to go their way. However, Las Vegas essentially waved the white flag on Wednesday, announcing that Jarrett Stidham will start the final two regular season games with Chase Garbers set to be his backup. This means Derek Carr’s season is done and along with it, potentially his career with the Raiders.

How did we get to this point? Well, it started with the contract extension Carr signed last offseason. It looked as though the Raiders had locked up their franchise quarterback for years to come. Instead, it was actually a one-year pact with the framework to keep him in house if the team desired. Carr can be released or traded this offseason for a dead cap hit of just $5.625 million while saving Las Vegas $29.25 million in cap space.

The door was cracked open to Carr’s exit this offseason at that point. It was blown wide open as the year rolled on and the Raiders continued to struggle. The team that thrived in close games a year ago suddenly could not close out contests. A pair of losses would send the Raiders to 6-11 on the season, nowhere near the lofty expectations that were set after acquiring Devante Adams this offseason.

So what’s next for Carr? It seems like he will be searching for a new team this offseason. He won’t be shopping long. There are so many QB needy teams in the league right now, he will have his fair share of suitors. Before we get to where he might land, we need to figure out what the Raiders’ plan might be.

There certainly seems to be a shortage of quality NFL quarterbacks at the moment. There are something like a dozen teams who could be in the market for a new signal caller this offseason. It is a bit surprising to see the Raiders opt to get into the mix despite having at least an average starting option. It begs the question: how can they upgrade at the position? Is it even possible to upgrade this offseason?

Brady reportedly nearly joined the Raiders in 2020 before signing with the Buccaneers. (Wikimedia Commons)

Well, let’s look at some veteran options first. The first name that comes to mind is Tom Brady. Yes, the GOAT could very well leave Tampa Bay this offseason and head for a new team with a familiar face. He and Raiders coach Josh McDaniels worked together for a long time in New England, so this seems like a logical reunion. Las Vegas would unquestionably need to upgrade his protection either through the draft or in free agency. However, I imagine the prospect of throwing to Adams, Hunter Renfroe and Darren Waller would be an appealing one.

Otherwise, Jimmy Garoppolo feels like the only other seasoned signal caller that would be a viable option. He, like Brady, has history with McDaniels and will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Outside of Garoppolo, there aren’t too many realistic targets. I don’t expect Lamar Jackson to leave the Ravens. Baker Mayfield, Jameis Winston, Sam Darnold and Teddy Bridgewater don’t feel like upgrades. Perhaps the Raiders would hope to ride the Geno Smith wave, but that also feels unlikely.

If not a veteran, the draft is always an option. The Raiders are on track to land a top-10 pick in the draft. However, they find themselves behind as many as six different teams that could draft a quarterback this year. The Texans, Seahawks, Colts, Falcons, Lions and Panthers will all at least consider selecting a rookie QB. Some of that could be impacted by the offseason carousel, but I doubt that all six of those clubs will pass on a quarterback. At best, the Raiders would likely be taking the third or fourth choice passer from this class. Sometimes, that works out really well. Just ask the Bills. However, taking that would be a bold risk to take.

While the Raiders work on finding his replacement, Carr will be looking to refresh his career. Let’s take a look at where he might land.

Indianapolis Colts
Indy has been searching for a long-term solution at quarterback since Andrew Luck retired. After one-year rentals of Philip Rivers, Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan, Carr could end the search, at least for a few years. Calling Carr a bridge quarterback feels disrespectful given his success in the league and the fact he is only 31 years old. He would likely offer a lot more stability at the position than the Colts have had in years. If Indianapolis is able to land one of its top targets on the draft board, it currently holds the 5th overall pick, this likely won’t make sense, but if they want a veteran option to compete a bit faster and use that premium pick to bolster the roster elsewhere, Carr would be a logical choice.

New York Jets
Zach Wilson does not feel long for New York and Mike White has yet to really earn enough trust to be considered a long-term solution. Jimmy Garoppolo has been heavily linked to Gang Green given his connection to Robert Saleh and Mike LaFleur, but Carr could be another viable option for a team that feels like it is a quarterback away from at least being in the Super Bowl conversation. Joe Douglas will need to revamp the offensive line in order for Carr to succeed, but that is likely true of any quarterback New York brings in.

New Orleans Saints
This probably would not be a huge upgrade over the contingent of Andy Dalton and Jameis Winston, but progress is progress. New Orleans’ cap situation seems horrible, but they find ways to get around that pretty much annually. With a number of talented players already on the roster (think Alvin Kamara, Chris Olave, Tyrann Mathieu, Cameron Jordan, Demario Davis, etc.), finding some stability at quarterback could go a long way to getting the Saints back on track in a weak division. New Orleans is technically still in the playoff hunt right now despite a 6-9 record. Without a first-round pick, there aren’t a ton of other options, so Carr could be a target.

Washington Commanders
This feels like a sneaky good option for Carr. Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson would give him a solid supporting cast. This team has a good defense and could use a boost at quarterback. Carson Wentz is very expendable and would actually save the Commanders roughly $26.2 million in cap space with zero dead cap. I don’t know if this move would make Washington a real contender, but if this team can compete for a playoff spot with below average quarterback play, even getting average quarterback play could go a long way.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I did say that Brady’s exit from Tampa Bay felt likely, didn’t I? Maybe, he and Carr could just trade places. The Buccaneers do not have a true succession plan on the roster right now and with them in line to win the NFC South, it is unlikely they will be in position to draft a quarterback in the first round. Carr could help this team stay in contention in the division. A healthy offensive line plus receivers like Chris Godwin and Mike Evans could lead to a very successful offense. Carr is still young enough to be considered the present and the short-term future at the position.

Follow the Aftermath via email to get every article delivered right to your inbox. Enter your email in the text box to subscribe. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter. You can also check out our podcast Draft Season Never Ends, available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and YouTube.

Three potential Jets replacements if Zach Wilson misses extended time

Jets second-year quarterback Zach Wilson suffered a bone bruise and a meniscus tear during Friday night’s preseason win over the Eagles. He is expected to miss 2 to 4 weeks with the injury, which puts his status in jeopardy for the season opener.

Wilson missed four games in 2021 with a PCL injury in his right knee. (Atlanta Falcons)

Hopefully, this will truly be a short-term injury and we will all get a chance to see how much Wilson has developed from his rookie season to now. However, the Jets expected Mekhi Becton to only miss 6 to 8 weeks last season and he never played again. The need for a replacement seems less dire if Wilson is able to return early in the regular season, but it is possible the Jets would be in the market for a new quarterback. The other quarterbacks on the roster at the moment are Joe Flacco, Mike White and Chris Streveler.

It is important to note that head coach Robert Saleh is a fan of Flacco’s. He heaped praise on the former Super Bowl MVP not even two weeks ago, calling him a starting-caliber quarterback. It would not be a shock to see New York ride it out with Flacco while looking to add a third quarterback to the room for depth, but the Jets really hoped to take a step forward in Saleh’s second season. Keep in mind that Flacco is 0-5 as a starter for the Jets.

It is tricky to know which direction the Jets would head here. They are not really ready to contend, but I also believe this coaching staff and front office believes in doing everything possible to win. Let’s say general manager Joe Douglas decides that he wants to get aggressive and find someone to bridge the gap for Wilson’s return or perhaps find an insurance policy with a bit more upside given that this is now the second time that Wilson has suffered an injury to the same knee. There are not a ton of feasible options, but here are three quarterbacks the Jets could target.

Garoppolo went 31-14 as the 49ers starting quarterback. (Alexander Jonesi)

Jimmy Garoppolo
This might seem obvious, but the 49ers quarterback has ties to the Jets coaching staff. Robert Saleh and Mike LaFleur both worked with him for three seasons in San Francisco. While Garoppolo would unquestionably have to build rapport with his new teammates, he should have a good understanding of LaFleur’s offensive system.

The Jets do not have a ton of cap space available, so it is likely Garoppolo would need to restructure his contract if the deal were to be done. San Francisco would likely be looking for a Day 3 draft pick and maybe a future conditional pick to move the 30-year old quarterback. It is clear they have moved on to Trey Lance as the starter and have been openly shopping Garoppolo for months. What’s more, Garoppolo is on an expiring contract, which means the Jets would still be moving forward with Wilson for the long term.

Love was a first-round draft pick in 2020. (All-Pro Reels)

Jordan Love
It is unclear what Love’s future in Green Bay is at this point. Entering Year 3 in the NFL, it seems he is no closer to being the Packers’ starter than he was when they selected him. Aaron Rodgers is the two-time reigning MVP and signed a two-year extension this offseason. I’m not positive the front office in Green Bay will want to move on from him, but if he is available, he could be a cheap option in terms of cap space, to help the Jets stay competitive. New York would likely have to give up a bit more to acquire him than they would Garoppolo given his rookie contract situation and the fact that Love won’t turn 24 until November.

However, it could be a win-win for the Jets and for Love. For Love, he would at long last get a chance to prove he can be a starter in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Jets would be able to trade Love again next offseason, possibly for more than they paid if he plays well enough. In the event that Love plays so well that Wilson becomes available, he will still have enough upside and youth on his side to garner serious interest. Keep in mind that Josh Rosen netted a second-round pick for the Cardinals when he was acquired by the Dolphins.

I expect New York to stay loyal to Wilson, but having two starting-caliber quarterbacks under the age of 25 is a good problem to have. If Love does not pan out, the Jets will only be on the hook for the final year of his rookie contract. That cap hit is just under $4 million, which is pretty reasonable for a backup quarterback.

Rudolph has spent his entire career with the Steelers. (Erik Drost)

Mason Rudolph
While I’m not altogether sure this would be much of an upgrade from Flacco or White, it is possible that the Steelers would be willing to move on from the former 3rd-round pick. The 27-year old is in the final year of his contract and Pittsburgh brought in Mitchell Trubisky and Kenny Pickett this offseason. Rudolph is part of the quarterback battle for the team’s job this preseason, but feels like the least likely candidate to win it at this point.

That being said, Rudolph has shown he can be at least an average starter in the league. He kept the Steelers afloat in 2019 when Roethlisberger missed eight games. Pittsburgh went 5-3 in that span. He earned spot starts in each of the past two seasons as well.

On one hand, it likely would not cost much for the Jets to acquire him and his cap hit would be very manageable. On the other, I don’t see him being a major upgrade over the quarterbacks that New York currently has on its roster. As much as Saleh wants to win this year, I don’t see Douglas making moves just for the sake of it. There are just not a ton of replacement options available across the league.

Follow the Aftermath via email to get every article delivered right to your inbox. Enter your email in the text box to subscribe. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter. You can also check out our weekly podcast Draft Season Never Ends with new episodes every Friday, available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, YouTube or wherever you get your podcasts.

Fantasy Football 2020 Waiver Wire Pickups: Nyheim Hines and Corey Davis highlight Week 2 options

Football is back! I thoroughly enjoyed my Sunday of watching the NFL on my couch. If you are like me, you were also likely checking your fantasy team (or teams in my case) on your phone the whole afternoon. I have been a lover of fantasy football for a really long time. I participated in my first league as an overeager and very confused eight-year-old back in 2006. I have never looked back. This year, I wanted to start creating some fantasy football content. I’ve written some predraft rankings before, but I figured I would attempt to add a weekly column to my usual slate of content offering some fantasy advice. I don’t pretend to be an expert, but hopefully I can help some people win their matchups.

Finding the top free-agent adds early in the season is crucial to fantasy success. There are players that slip through the cracks of your fantasy draft that end up determining the outcome of the league. In recent years, Alvin Kamara (2017), James Conner (2018) and Mark Andrews (2019) all went largely undrafted. Each of them finished sixth or better at their position during those seasons in PPR scoring. Working the waiver wire is important. You cannot just rely on your draft. So let’s dive into my favorite fantasy pick ups of for Week 2.

Cousins finished 15th among quarterbacks in fantasy scoring in 2019. (Wikimedia Commons)

Kirk Cousins, QB, MIN
He might not have been yelling his famous catch phrase after his Week 1 performance, but Cousins looked pretty sharp despite the loss. He completed 19 of his 25 passes for 271 yards and a pair of scores. He did toss an interception, but he made up for it with 34 yards rushing. His numbers have him as a fringe QB1 option against an underrated Packers defense. Cousins gets a much less impressive Colts defense next. That Indy defense just allowed Gardner Minshew to complete 19 of 20 passes and throw three touchdown passes. Cousins has better weapons to work with than Minshew and should be a solid starting option in Week 2.

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, SF
I am not convinced Garoppolo is a good quarterback, but fantasy success is not always linked to on-field success. Jameis Winston threw 30 interceptions in 2019 and was the fifth-best quarterback in fantasy. Garoppolo had a solid first week, posting 259 yards passing and two touchdowns with no turnovers. His receiving options are very limited at the moment with Deebo Samuel on IR and first-round pick Brandon Aiyuk dealing with a hamstring injury. He still has George Kittle and a solid group of running backs to lean on though. If you need are streaming quarterbacks, there are few better options heading into Week 2. Garoppolo faces a Jets defense that just gave up 27 fantasy points to Josh Allen. He might not reach those heights, but Garoppolo has a high floor heading into the matchup.

Nyheim Hines, RB, IND
This is definitely the first player I am putting a waiver claim on this week. Marlon Mack is going to miss the rest of the season with an Achilles injury. That opens up a ton of playing time for Hines. Yes, Jonathan Taylor is likely still the lead back in Indianapolis, but Hines evenly split the second half snaps at running back for the Colts on Sunday. He ended up with 15 touches (seven rushes, eight catches) and two touchdowns. He has more value in PPR leagues, but is still worth adding in standard scoring leagues. He faces a Vikings defense next that just gave up 158 yards rushing to the Packers.

Brown finds himself in a wide-open backfield after the Rams cut ties with Todd Gurley this offseason. (Wikimedia Commons)

Malcolm Brown, RB, LAR
Heading into Week 1, this backfield looked like a logjam with Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson Jr. joining Brown. The Rams also have a capable complement of pass catchers, so it felt like Brown might get crowded out. Instead, he racked up 78 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. He also added 31 yards on three catches. There is no guarantee he will be the lead back week to week, but Brown seems poised for a healthy workload. He has the feel of a solid flex option going up against a banged up Eagles defense in Week 2.

James Robinson, RB, JAX
If you didn’t hop on this one last week when he was announced as the starter, you aren’t too late. Robinson is still available in more than 70% of ESPN leagues. He did not put up gaudy numbers in the Jaguars win, but he had 17 touches and was the clear lead back for the team. He seems like a better option in standard leagues, only catching one pass in the contest. Jacksonville seems like they want to be a run-first team though, which bodes well for Robinson’s fantasy viability. He faces a tough Titans defense, but the long-term value here is good enough to go get him.

Benny Snell Jr., RB, PIT
James Conner fantasy managers should be all over this one. Snell stepped in for an injured Conner and rushed for 113 yards against the Giants. He joins Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Derrick Henry as the only running backs in the league to eclipse 100 yards rushing in Week 1. He definitely has more value in standard leagues than PPR ones with no catches despite his heavy usage. Snell faces a tough Broncos defense in Week 2, but will get the Houston defense that gave up those 100+ yards to Edwards-Helaire in Week 3. He should have some fantasy value if Conner returns, but maximize his window as the lead back with Conner banged up.

Russell Gage, WR, ATL
It is unlikely Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Gage will all go over 100 yards receiving again this season. However, nine catches on 12 targets gives me hope that Gage will carry fantasy value into the future. He earned at least six targets in five games last season, including Atlanta’s final three contests. This Falcons offense is going to throw the ball a lot. It seems like they might have to in order to win games given the inexperience of their secondary. Gage faces another middle-of-the-road secondary next week as Atlanta takes on Dallas. Consider him a potential flex option, with even more value in PPR leagues.

Corey Davis, TEN, WR
You don’t want to overreact to one game, but it seems like Ryan Tannehill and Davis have developed a lot of trust in the offseason. The fourth-year receiver caught seven of his eight targets for 101 yards against the Broncos. With A.J. Brown commanding a lot of attention and teams stacking the box to stop Derrick Henry, Davis could be a huge beneficiary. He will face stiffer tests eventually, but he gets a Jaguars secondary that lacks depth and a very inexperienced Vikings group in his next two games. He has fantasy value this week and going forward.

Paris Campbell, WR, IND
It was unclear how Indianapolis would use its receivers outside of T.Y. Hilton heading into Week 1. Between Campbell, Zach Pascal and Michael Pittman, it seemed like the Colts were almost approaching the WR2 spot by committee. Campbell emerged as the best of those options against a young Jaguars secondary. He posted solid numbers (six catches for 71 yards), and more importantly, tied Hilton with a team-leading nine targets. Clearly, Frank Reich intends to get the ball in Campbell’s hands. He was an intriguing fantasy option a year ago before injuries derailed his rookie season. Minnesota just got torched by Aaron Rodgers and company in Week 1 and that is who Campbell and Indy will face next. Consider him a low-end WR2 option for this week and a solid flex consideration in the future.

Mike Williams, WR, LAC
There were a lot of fantasy managers who dropped Williams after he suffered a preseason shoulder injury. He rewarded those who stuck with him with a solid performance in Week 1. Four catches for 69 yards is not spectacular, but the target share was very promising. He had nine targets from Tyrod Taylor against the Bengals. Williams is a major red zone option as well, so he carries additional upside. He faces the Chiefs next, who will likely be without top cornerback Charvarius Ward. Williams will get a young Panthers secondary the week after that. He has a few weeks of really good fantasy viability ahead of him.

Goedert was the No. 10 fantasy tight end in 2019. (Wikimedia Commons)

Dallas Goedert, TE, PHI
If Goedert is available in your league, go get him. He was the top scoring fantasy tight option in PPR formats in Week 1, but was on only 21.8 percent of rosters in ESPN leagues. You can’t count on him to replicate these numbers (eight catches, 101 yards and a TD) consistently, but even if Goedert puts up half as many points per week, he is a tight end worth having in fantasy. With Carson Wentz clearly still favoring his tight ends over wide receivers, Goedert has the potential to be a top-tier fantasy option. His upcoming matchups are not great, but he is still worth stashing on your roster.

Logan Thomas, TE, WAS
A tight end on the other side of this Week 1 matchup is my other top pickups for the week at the position. Thomas hauled in four passes for 37 yards and a touchdown. Now most of his scoring was dependent on that trip to the end zone, but he had a very healthy eight targets in Washington’s season opener. It is clear he has developed a good rapport with Dwayne Haskins. With few other reliable pass catching options outside of Terry McLaurin, Thomas could be a fringe TE1 and carries a ton of value in any league that places a premium on tight end scoring. I can almost guarantee you he is available, as he is currently rostered in just 0.4 percent of ESPN leagues. In Week 2, he faces a Cardinals defense that allowed the most points to opposing tight ends a year ago.