Ranking the 10 worst QB situations heading into free agency

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The pickings are going to be slim for teams in need of a quarterback once free agency comes calling. As of right now, former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles is the best option. Unfortunately, there’s not much more to look at behind Foles.

When checking in on the 2019 NFL Draft, two quarterbacks — Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins — are almost guaranteed to be top-five picks. After that, the draft class is filled with major projects.

It’s in this that we check in on the 10 worst quarterback situations around the NFL heading into free agency. It’s not great, folks.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars

It became apparent last season that Blake Bortles has no real future with the Jaguars. He was benched in favor Cody Kessler after 12 games and while in the midst of an eight-game losing streak. Even with Kessler struggling, the Jaguars refused to back to their first-round bust.

Now that Jacksonville is set to move on from Bortles, we have absolutely no idea what the future will bring under center in Duval. Kessler obviously isn’t the answer. Jacksonville pushed back against offering up draft picks for Nick Foles. Now that Foles is set to become a free agent, the Jags will face competition for his services. Meanwhile, Jacksonville is picking No. 7 overall in April’s draft. Neither Dwayne Haskins or Kyler Murray figure to be available.

2. New York Giants

General manager David Gettleman made it clear during the NFL Scouting Combine that Eli Manning will return to the Giants next season. Though, it’s less clear if that will be as the team’s starting quarterback. Talk about both a smack in Manning’s face and a potential drama-filled situation in New Jersey.

There’s not a whole lot behind Manning on the depth chart. Alex Tanney has been nothing more than a No. 2 or No. 3 quarterback in his career. Meanwhile, 2018 first-round pick Kyle Lauletta couldn’t even be bothered to see the field last season and was involved in an off-field situation resulting in an arrest. Picking sixth overall, New York might be able to move up for one of the top quarterbacks in the 2019 NFL Draft. Even then, their quarterback situation is a complete mess.

3. Washington Redskins

This is more happenstance than anything else. Washington figured it had at least a stopgap option when it traded for Alex Smith at about this point last year. Unfortunately, Smith suffered a serious leg injury back in November. Complications from surgery have not only put Smith’s 2019 season at risk, his career is now in jeopardy.

Instead of signing an unnamed free agent following Smith’s injury, Washington added Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman to the mix. This came after Colt McCoy also suffered a serious injury. Now, with free agency on the horizon, Washington is apparently comfortable with McCoy under center. He’s thrown exactly 55 regular-season passes over the past four years.

4. Miami Dolphins

Dolphins general manager Chris Grier might be considered an up-and-comer in the business, but he has a huge task ahead of himself in terms of fixing the team’s quarterback situation. After holding on to a washed-up Ryan Tannehill for far too long, Miami is expected to release the injury-plagued former first-round pick. Immediately behind him on the depth chart, Brock Osweiler and David Fales are slated to become free agents — not like either are starter-caliber quarterbacks or should even be in the NFL.

Meanwhile, Miami is selecting 13th overall in April’s draft. Given the team’s brass seems to be honing in on 2020 prospect Tua Tagovailoa, it might avoid quarterback this year. If not, the Dolphins would be forced to go with a project like Duke’s Daniel Jones or Missouri’s Drew Lock. But hey, maybe Nick Foles could act the savior in South Beach.

5. Buffalo Bills

Josh Allen was surprisingly effective as a rookie last season. Seen by most to be a major project, he flashed a times in the face of a horrible situation in Western New York. Even then, the former top-10 pick was nowhere near consistent enough to be counted on. He averaged less than 173 yards per game and threw 10 touchdowns compared to 12 interceptions in 11 starts. Allen needs to take a dramatic step forward this offseason.

Outside of that, Buffalo has two quarterbacks hanging on to their NFL careers in the form of Derek Anderson and Matt Barkley still under contract. The two have combined to throw less than 400 passes over the past four seasons — tallying 12 touchdowns and 23 interceptions in the process. Ouch!

6. Arizona Cardinals

Let’s dispel the myths now. Despite the narrative of him being in a less-than-stellar situation under the dumpster fire that was Steve Wilks last season, Rosen was an absolute disaster himself under center. The rookie No. 10 overall pick threw 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 13 starts. He led Arizona to 14 points or less in nearly half those starts.

There’s a reason that the Cardinals have been linked to reigning Heisman winner Kyler Murray less than a calendar year after drafting Rosen. Sure the team wants to deny said interest, but its willingness to even engage on the matter is troublesome. Veteran backup Mike Glennon remains the No. 2 in Arizona. All he’s done in the past three seasons is throw six touchdowns and five interceptions in four starts.

7. Cincinnati Bengals

We’re honestly not sure if Andy Dalton will be back as Cincinnati’s starter under first-year head coach Zac Taylor. What we do know is that Dalton has more lives than a cat at a dog park. He’s legitimately been a bottom 10 starting quarterback in each of the past three seasons. It might be time for the Bengals to move on from him. Unfortunately, there just aren’t a ton of options available to the team.

Former San Francisco 49ers late-round pick Jeff Driskel took over for an injured Dalton late last season — throwing six touchdowns and two interceptions in five starts. There might be some promise regarding Driskel, but in no way is he a starter-caliber quarterback. Yeah, things are not swell under center in Cincinnati.

8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

How bad is the Jameis Winston situation in Tampa Bay? This offense performed much better under bearded-wonder Ryan Fitzpatrick last season. Given Fitz’s own struggles throughout his career, this is pretty darn alarming. Heck, Winston was benched multiple times in favor of Fitzpatrick in 2018. All said, the former No. 1 overall pick committed 20 turnovers in nine starts.

Despite this, Tampa Bay will pay Winston $20.92 million against the cap this season after previously picking up the option on his rookie deal. First-year head coach Bruce Arians wants to build around Winston — not like he has much of a choice. And now with Fitzpatrick set to hit free agency, that safety valve might not be available to Arians in 2019.

9. Denver Broncos

General manager John Elway has been a complete and utter disaster in handling Denver’s quarterback situation. The latest example was the acquisition of a washed-up Joe Flacco from Baltimore. Here’s a quarterback that’s tossed 64 touchdowns compared to 46 interceptions in his past 51 starts en route to leading the Ravens to a 24-27 mark.

This comes after the failed Case Keenum experiment from last season. While Keenum remains on the roster, there’s a good chance he’ll be traded or released in the coming weeks. All the while, Denver selects No. 10 overall in April. The team is said to be locked in on Missouri product Drew Lock (punny) with that selection. At the very least, he fits the bill of that prototypical dropback quarterback — one of the reasons Elway is not interested in reigning Heisman winner Kyler Murray. How fun.

10. Oakland Raiders

On the surface, Derek Carr’s name belongs nowhere on this list. He’s a a three-time Pro Bowler and has had an historical early-career run from a statistical perspective. That’s all fine. Unfortunately, Carr took a major step back last season under the tutelage Jon Gruden. The two sparred. Gruden’s offense was something out of the 1960s. It led to major issues in the passing game.

At this point, we don’t even know if Gruden is locked in to Carr long term. He could fall in love with a quarterback prospect heading into the 2019 NFL Draft — one that the Raiders have three first-round picks. Behind him on the depth chart, A.J. McCarron and Nathan Peterman probably shouldn’t be in the league right now. Heck, Peterman might very well be the worst quarterback to start a game in the modern history of the game. That’s not hyperbole.