Eight most depressing NFL free agent quarterbacks in 2017

Rachel Wold
Written by Rachel Wold

Now that the glitz and glamour of the Super Bowl is over, NFL reality hits hard for many teams. Unfortunately, not all of them are blessed with a quarterback like Tom Brady or Matt Ryan on their roster. Instead, some clubs will be forced to dumpster dive into the free agency pool to scrounge up some quarterback help.

This season’s list of quarterbacks slated to become free agents contains some real winners.

Just kidding. Instead, it will actually feature quite the depressing cast of quarterbacks, provided their current teams do not re-sign them.

Some quarterbacks featured here were actually first-round draft picks. Meanwhile, others rock at holding a clipboard. Either way, the following eight quarterbacks might be seeking a new team to call home in 2017.

1. EJ Manuel, Buffalo Bills

Manuel has been a major bust since Day 1. The Bills had the 16th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft and went all in with Manuel. In his rookie year he dealt with injuries and started in only 10 games. It was a unimpressive campaign that saw Manuel put up a four wins versus six losses and complete just 58.8 percent of his passes. He also coughed up nine interceptions compared to 11 touchdowns.

It was not shocking that Manuel was relieved of his duties after starting in four games in 2014. Former NFL quarterback Kyle Orton was then called to the rescue.

Fast forward to 2015. Manuel fell short in the quarterback competition and lost out to Tyrod Taylor. Taylor once again started in 2016 while Manuel sat and collected dust. Manuel’s entire career in Buffalo consists of 17 starts with 11 losses.

It would be unlikely the Bills’ new head coach would choose to reinvest in Manuel.  At best, we see Manuel resuming his role as a backup this fall on a different team.

2. Case Keenum, Los Angeles Rams

Keenum was originally signed by the Rams in 2015 to a two-year deal. That season, he replaced a struggling Nick Foles. Having this experience prompted the Rams to start him over rookie quarterback Jared Goff in 2016.

Unfortunately, things went south. Keenum’s 4-5 record resulted in him getting benched in lieu of Goff.

With the Rams now seemingly committed to grooming Goff moving forward, Keenum could be on to greener pastures.

His career originally began with the Houston Texans in 2012 where he spent three seasons. During that time, Keenum averaged a pass-completion rate of 55.2 percent. He also had only two wins versus eight losses and tallied 11 touchdowns with eight interceptions.

Keenum’s up-and-down performances are hardly anything a team in need of a starting quarterback can bank on. This is provided the soon-to-be 29 year-old quarterback and the Rams call it quits this spring.

3. Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets

Due to the complexity of the Jets’ current quarterback situation, Fitzpatrick could be looking elsewhere for work. He unfortunately failed to deliver after the Jets re-signed him to a hefty $12 million, one-year deal in 2016. This was after a career-best 3,905 passing yards and 31 touchdowns the prior year.

The Jets currently house four quarterbacks and could easily depart with the eldest of the group. Fitz was a disaster at times and managed to get benched twice in 2016.

The veteran Harvard graduate is 34 years old and has had a rocky career. His poor 2016 campaign reminded all why he has bounced around between six teams in 12 years.

Now that Fitz appears to be one-and-done with the good stuff from 2015, his stock has dropped. The handy thing here is another needy team won’t have to pay nearly as much to sign him as a backup or potential starter.

4. Mark Sanchez, Dallas Cowboys

Speaking of bouncing around like a pinball in play, Sanchez’s one-year deal with Dallas expires in March. Sanchez started out the 2016 preseason with the Denver Broncos but was released, then signed by Dallas for 2016.

If the Cowboys don’t wish to retain him, the former Jets first round pick from 2009 will be looking for a new club.

Sanchez saw very little action behind rookie starter Dak Prescott. Sadly, what we did witness was classic Sanchez.

The 30 year-old quarterback had one job when he played in the Cowboys’ regular final game of the season. A game that Dallas didn’t need to win, which was something Sanchez made sure of anyway. Instead of perhaps scoring a touchdown, Sanchez launched two interceptions in 17 attempted passes.

In all, throughout 72 starts with the Jets, Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas, Sanchez sports a 37-35 win-to-loss record. And his 86 touchdowns neatly correspond with his 86 career interceptions.

It’s possible Dallas hangs on to Sanchez if Tony Romo is traded. But if not, will there be any takers?

5. Brian Hoyer, Chicago Bears

The Bears signed Hoyer to a one-year, $2 million deal in 2016. He performed somewhat impressively while he covered for an injured Jay Cutler in six games last year. Despite the team’s struggles to win, Hoyer completed 67 percent of his passes, threw six touchdowns and remained clean throughout that stretch.

Unfortunately, Hoyer departed the season early after he suffered a broken arm in October. Prior to Chicago, Hoyer played with the Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns, and Arizona Cardinals. His career originally began in New England in 2009. Cleveland of course, is where Hoyer saw the most starting action.

Sadly, Hoyer’s knack for getting injured makes him a risky free agent pick up, if the Bears decide move on.

6. Blaine Gabbert, San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers boast one of the most controversial quarterback rosters in the league. Gabbert was signed for two years as a backup to Colin Kaepernick in 2015. That year saw Gabbert steal Kap’s job once Kaepernick got benched for poor performances.

The team stuck with the so-called “hot hand” in 2016. But, it didn’t take long before Gabbert’s ineptitude began to surface. This time he got the bench and Kap was brought back as the starter. Lather, rinse, repeat — or not.

The 49ers will be starting fresh with Kyle Shanahan as their new head coach. It is realistic to think that Gabbert might not be part of the new picture.

Prior to landing in San Francisco, the former first-round pick from 2011 stunk things up in Jacksonville. Gabbert’s stats there consisted of five wins compared to 22 losses. He also completed only 53.3 percent of his passes during that time.

It will be interesting to see if Gabbert attracts any interest moving forward. If so, it likely wouldn’t take too much money to ink him as a backup.

7. Matt Schaub, Atlanta Falcons

Schaub was chosen by the Falcons in the third round of the 2004 NFL Draft and spent three seasons as a backup. Coincidentally, 2016 brought Schaub back to Atlanta for a one-year deal.

In between, Schaub spent the majority of his years playing for the Houston Texans from 2007-2013. There, he achieved a 46-42 record.

Eventually, the Texans departed with Schaub and he spent the 2014 season with Oakland. This is where he attempted a total of 10 passes for two interceptions and quickly found the bench. A one-year gig as Joe Flacco’s backup in Baltimore followed in 2015.

Currently, there are reports that suggest Schaub could wind up in San Francisco, following former Falcons offensive coordinator and new 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan across the country. Either way, it would be difficult to envision the 35 year-old quarterback as anything more than roster depth and a helping hand getting the rest of the quarterbacks up to speed in Shanahan’s offense.

8. Geno Smith, New York Jets

We touched earlier on the messy quarterback situation in New York talking about Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Jets’ spring cleaning this offseason will surely touch on the question of what to do with Smith. He has been a disappointment ever since the team selected him in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

In his first season as a starter, he finished with an 8-8 record. While that was not terrible for a rookie, his 21 interceptions versus 12 touchdowns were quite horrible. Since his rookie year, Smith has never played for a full season. His numbers dropped in 2014. Then, Smith spent 2015 on clipboard duty as a result of suffering a busted jaw during a preseason locker room brawl.

This was the season Fitzpatrick shined, so there was no need to get Smith under center once he was cleared to play.

Smith finished up the final year of his rookie contract in 2016 after playing in only two games. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL and was placed on IR in October. It’s the combination of pure rotten luck and lackluster performances that could scare teams shy of signing Smith once he hits free agency.

About the author

Rachel Wold

Rachel Wold

Rachel is a football lover of both the NFL and Fantasy and creator of When she is not vacationing in Miami or Vegas, she is an NFL writer at Sportsnaut and a fantasy contributor at Rachel's articles are also featured on Yardbarker, MSN and Fox Sports.

Follow Rachel on Twitter @liveocgirl and chat with her anytime!