There are still some established veteran quarterbacks available on the free-agent market. Andy Dalton and Cam Newton are atop the list.
Other quarterbacks who have experience in the NFL but who still remain unsigned include a Super Bowl champ and a former first-round bust.
Here, we look at the ideal landing spots for the top-five free-agent quarterbacks left on the market.
Andy Dalton: Jacksonville Jaguars
This makes too much sense. First of all, I don’t see the New England Patriots being in on Dalton. They seem committed to seeing what Jarrett Stidham can do. And on top of that, the Pats have no cap space.
Jacksonville’s offensive coordinator is Jay Gruden. Dalton’s best years in Cincinnati took place when Gruden was at the helm. The Jaguars can say they’re sold on Gardner Mishew until they are blue in the face. But he has one year under his belt and was a sixth-round pick in 2019 for a reason. Adding Dalton to the roster would, at worst, be a tremendous insurance plan.
Cam Newton: Pittsburgh Steelers
Though he has been linked to the Patriots since Tom Brady left, Newton isn’t going to play for Bill Belichick. Instead, it makes sense for the former MVP to head to Pittsburgh and back up Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers were rumored to be in on Jameis Winston. They also cannot be confident in Mason Rudolph as a future starter after his 2019 campaign.
When you look at Newton’s game, he’s essentially Roethlisberger with wheels. The Steelers have a strong offensive line — something Newton rarely had in Carolina — and some electric weapons. It’s not hard to imagine Newton could thrive playing in this offense.
Joe Flacco: Dallas Cowboys
Dallas has nobody it can rely on to back up Dak Prescott. Cooper Rush is bad. Clayton Thorson is worse. The team took a flier on seventh-round quarterback Ben DiNucci out of James Madison. If, heaven forbid, Prescott were to get injured early in the season, the ‘Boys would be up a creek without a paddle.
Flacco isn’t elite. He never really was. But he does have a ton of big-game experience. At the least, he’d provide Prescott with a wealth of knowledge in the film room. And if he did have to come in to play in an emergency situation, he’d be able to handle the pressure.
Blake Bortles: Minnesota Vikings
I could see the Los Angeles Rams potentially bringing Bortles back this offseason. But it stands to reason they probably already would have done that if he were someone they wanted. Instead, it makes sense that this former first-round bust could go to Minnesota and back up Kirk Cousins.
The Vikings can’t feel great about having Sean Mannion and Jake Browning competing for the backup role. Seventh-round pick Nate Stanley out of Iowa is an intriguing prospect. But he’s not ready to take over an NFL offense any time soon. As much as Bortles has been piled on in the past for his failures in Jacksonville, he has experience. And in a pinch, he’d be better than any other quarterback on Minnesota’s roster right now.
Geno Smith: Seattle Seahawks
The only quarterback signed to Seattle’s roster right now outside of Russell Wilson is undrafted rookie Anthony Gordon out of Washington State. It doesn’t seem likely that things will stay this way heading into training camp. In fact, I guarantee the Seahawks will sign at least one more quarterback in free agency.
With that in mind, the person best suited for the backup job is the guy who’s already done it. Smith didn’t register a single stat last year due to Wilson’s remarkable ability to stay healthy. But he knows the offense and could run it as an emergency starter in the event Wilson suffers an injury.