Prior to the 2016 NFL Draft, several teams were in flux at the quarterback position.
Unfortunately, not much has changed with the draft now in the books. In fact, some NFL clubs may be worse off.
Intermingled in the following list we have unhappy vets demanding trades, new rookies and existing veterans fighting for starting jobs. These situations are the most awkward heading into the spring and summer months before the 2016 NFL season.
Cleveland Browns are toying with Robert Griffin III
Finally ridding themselves of Johnny Manziel, the Browns appeared to be all-in on Robert Griffin III, even though he rode the bench all last year.
After signing the embattled quarterback, the Browns traded down in this year’s draft, forfeiting the opportunity to start anew with a top-ranked rookie. Since first-round rookie quarterbacks haven’t worked out so swell in the past, this was likely a smart plan by Cleveland.
Behind Griffin, who is just one awkward slide away from disaster, the Browns had an injury-prone Josh McCown next in line. Things were looking great for RG3.
Despite head coach Hue Jackson’s praises of Griffin, the team did add insurance with USC’s Cody Kessler in the third round of the draft. Apparently he’s more than just insurance, though.
It would now appear that Griffin will be feeling the heat with a good old-fashioned quarterback competition this summer.
— Lindsey Thiry (@LindseyThiry) May 1, 2016
Per the usual, fans will likely see myriad of starters this fall while the Browns attempt to improve on the two lowly wins they managed last year. Good luck.
Houston Texans “elite” contract for Brock Osweiler sets an awkward bar
The Texans honestly believe that Osweiler is the answer for their quarterback woes.
A massive $18 million per year contract to sway him away from his former Denver Broncos pretty much says so. And, why would Osweiler not jump on that?
Somehow, in the mind of Houston’s brass, a quarterback with only seven career starts is worthy of elite pay. Hopefully for the Texans, Osweiler will be worth every penny this season, proving any doubters wrong.
For comparison sake, Osweiler will be earning the same $18 million as Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo in 2016.
In the meantime, Osweiler’s contract sets an unsettling precedence for other quarterback negotiations.
Take for example Ryan Fitzpatrick, whom the New York Jets believe is only worth “backup money.” Should Fitzpatrick have to settle for a tad more than $7-8 million per year (read more here) after posting career-highs while Osweiler rakes in the bank? You be the judge.
While Texans fans hope Osweiler will lead their team to the promise land, we’ll continue with the Jets’ quarterback saga.
New York Jets threatening fans with Geno Smith and Christian Hackenberg
While Fitzpatrick and the Jets remain far from coming to terms on a new contract, Fitz claims he just as soon retire than to play for backup pay.
As Fitzpatrick plans his first vacation as an NFL retiree, the Jets plan of action is to gamble with Geno Smith.
The team will reportedly start Smith if Fitzpatrick won’t back down on his demands. This would mean the Jets are looking to improve on their 10 wins from last season with Smith, who has only 11 wins versus 18 losses as a starter on record.
In case things don’t work out with Smith, or he sustains another freak injury, the Jets have second-round draft pick, Christian Hackenberg from Penn State on hand. Related: Hackenberg is doomed in New York.
The best-case scenario is that somehow the Jets retain Fitzpatrick for at least one season while Hackenberg ramps up.
Then, there’s Bryce Petty who was drafted in 2015. He is probably wondering what exactly his role is now.
We’ll let head coach Todd Bowles sort out this mess.
Denver Broncos prepare for life beyond Peyton Manning
The Broncos were dealt a double whammy when Peyton Manning retired as expected, and Osweiler followed the dollar signs and a secure starting gig with Houston — most definitely not expected.
Left suddenly thin at the quarterback position, reports surfaced that the Broncos were interested in San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick. What the Broncos were not interested in was Kap’s current salary. After Kaepernick refused to take a pay cut, Denver simply moved on.
Fast forward a few weeks, and Mark Sanchez is penciled in as the Broncos No. 1 guy to start this fall. He is obviously happy as a clam.
But needing more competition, Denver got aggressive in the 2016 draft and secured Memphis’ Paxton Lynch in Round 1.
Try as Sanchez might, many fans and analysts believe it is only a matter of weeks once the season starts, before Lynch takes center for the Broncos. Further bolstering this idea, John Elway came out and said Lynch will be starting quicker than many people think.
Meanwhile, a clueless Sanchez considers the team moving up to draft Lynch, a “vote of confidence.”
San Francisco 49ers stuck with Colin Kaepernick
Things remain awkward for the 49ers, and challenging for new head coach Chip Kelly now that Kaepernick appears to have nowhere else to go. After drawing some reported interest during free agency when Kaepernick requested a trade, it looks like 49ers fans are stuck with Kap, like it or not.
On the bright side, Kaepernick is on the mend from a shoulder injury and has begun throwing.
But it is Blaine Gabbert who appears to be the front-runner, according to teammates.
“He’s definitely taking control,” tight end Garrett Celek said, per Matt Maiocco of csnbayarea.com. “Whoever’s at quarterback needs to take control and be our leader out there. And he’s definitely doing that. He’s making good decisions on the field.”
Gabbert was given the opportunity to start when Kap got the hook after posting only two wins and six losses last season. Under Gabbert, the 49ers ultimately finished with a total of only five wins, finishing last in the NFC West.
All signs point to a juicy quarterback competition. This means Kaepernick needs to ditch the headphones, attempt to rebuild relationships with his teammates and develop a rapport with Kelly.
Facing fierce divisional competition, it already looks to be a long season for San Francisco fans.
Philadelphia Eagles should stop catering to a disgruntled Sam Bradford
Thanks in part to Bradford’s hurt feelings after the team moved up to draft North Dakota’s Carson Wentz at No. 2 overall, the drama is heating up in Philly. Bradford has gone from being irate about Wentz, to demanding a trade, to not showing up at voluntary practices (read more about this sticky situation here).
This is happening while the Eagles are assuring him that the starting job is his.
Likely, Bradford’s whiny attitude will eventually wear thin on the Eagles. He is reportedly not returning any calls or texts from the team’s front office. When Bradford recently signed a new two-year deal that pays him nearly $18 million per season, the intent was that he would be the starter. No such deal would have been struck otherwise.
Meanwhile, there has barely been any interest from other teams when it comes to Bradford’s services. With no real bargaining power and a history of injuries, Bradford needs to man up and appreciate what he has in front of him.
Continuing to act like a two-year old whose toy was just taken away is a bad approach by an NFL quarterback.
Dallas Cowboys blow it twice at Tony Romo’s backup
The Cowboys selected a rookie quarterback in the draft. But, it wasn’t one of the quarterbacks they attempted to trade up and secure.
Cowboys wanted Paxton Lynch in Round 1
Got leaped by Raiders in Round 4 for Connor Cook
Settled on Dak Prescott in Round 4
— NFL Draft (@NFLDraft) April 30, 2016
Instead, Jerry Jones and the team landed Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott in Round 4. Since drafting Prescott, Jones assures fans that Kellen Moore is the preferred backup behind Romo, per 105.3 The Fan (h/t dallascowboys.com).
“Obviously those interceptions are not something you can live with. But some of the stuff he was doing was just pretty obvious that the team was responding and he was able to move the team.”
That’s not exactly a note of gleaming confidence. Last season in two starts, Moore completed 58.7 percent of his passes and tossed six interceptions compared to four touchdowns.
This is after the Cowboys burned through Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel faster than fire eats through paper.
Obviously not confident in listing Prescott behind Romo, we must wonder how Dallas’ depth chart would have shaken out had they landed Lynch or Cook.
For the sake of the Cowboys, hopefully Romo remains in one piece this year, leaving the backups stashed on the bench where they belong.
Oakland Raiders not an ideal situation for Connor Cook
The Raiders foiled the best laid plans of the Cowboys and Chicago Bears when they managed a trade up to draft Michigan State’s Connor Cook in Round 4.
Excited for the Raiders, the NFL tweeted a comparison of Cook to Cincinnati Bengals backup, A.J. McCarron. Hilariously, the Network tweeted at the wrong Connor Cook. The Cook the NFL contacted turned out to be a firefighter, who jokingly responded.
— SB Nation (@SBNation) May 1, 2016
What the NFL did have right is Cook’s comparison to McCarron. McCarron will remain handcuffed to Andy Dalton for the foreseeable future, baring any serious injury. This will certainly be the case for Cook behind third-year starter Derek Carr.
Carr improved vastly from his rookie campaign, leading the team to seven wins in 2015. His numbers are on the rise, which all but ensures Cook a comfy spot on the Raiders’ bench for seasons to come.
A post-draft trade to a quarterback-needy team that would provide Cook a more immediate opportunity to play would certainly be ideal and interesting.