By Matteo Venieri
Boston University News Service
As teams across the NFL prepare for another season, some fans may end up having to replace their quarterback jerseys. In fact, only about a third of the league can confidently say who will be their man under center next year.
In this five-part series, we will be looking at the quarterbacks who are likely to change colors next season, predicting what we can expect as we divide them into five tiers. Here, we discuss the fifth and final group: “QBs with an uncertain future.”
Gardner Minshew, Jake Luton & Mike Glennon (Jacksonville Jaguars)
On April 29, the Jacksonville Jaguars will be the first team on the clock at the NFL Draft. They are widely expected to select Trevor Lawrence. The Jaguars, who in 2020 had a league-worst 1-15 record, hope to find a franchise quarterback for years to come in the former Clemson standout.
His arrival in Florida would mean changes are on the horizon for last season’s three starters. Gardner Minshew played good football in 2019 but lost his job last year to rookie Jake Luton and veteran Mike Glennon.
None of them played well enough to be a real threat to Lawrence’s potential job. Minshew is the most likely to leave since other teams might send the Jaguars a late rounder for his services. Glennon, a free agent, could resign to be a veteran presence in the locker room. Luton may be joining the practice squad.
Mitch Trubisky & Nick Foles (Chicago Bears)
Despite earning a trip to the playoffs, 2020 was a real roller coaster for Bears quarterbacks. Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles had their shot at keeping their job as the starter QB, but they both struggled with consistency on multiple occasions.
A year ago, Chicago decided not to pick up Trubisky’s fifth-year option. But, he played well enough to raise rumors about his return with a new deal.
Foles, who is under contract for two more years, went 2-5 as a starter. He faced much tougher opponents, including the eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, whom he managed to beat.
However, neither Trubisky nor Foles might be the starter for Chicago next season. When Russell Wilson named Chicago as a desirable destination, the landscape changed significantly for the Bears.
Despite being one of the most storied NFL franchises, Chicago never had a Hall of Fame quarterback during the Super Bowl era. Wilson would instantly bring that kind of pedigree to the Windy City. Winning the Wilson sweepstakes would likely mean the end of Trubisky and Foles’s days in Chicago as starters.
Jameis Winston (New Orleans Saints)
The last two of the 25 names mentioned in this 5-part list belong to the first two picks in the 2015 Draft. Despite big expectations, they both failed to live up to their high selection.
After his 30-for-30 campaign in Tampa, Jameis Winston chose New Orleans (and less money) to learn from Drew Brees. When Bress was injured, coach Sean Payton picked the versatile Taysom Hill as the starter.
Brees made his retirement official on Sunday. Now, the Saints have to find a new starter, and once again, Winston appears to be the least enticing option. If the one-year apprenticeship under a future Hall of Famer was not enough to resurrect Winston’s career, it is hard to foresee when another franchise will be willing to put their faith in the former first overall pick.
Marcus Mariota (Las Vegas Raiders)
Winston’s fellow draftee, Marcus Mariota, suffered a similar fate.
After losing his job in Tennessee to Ryan Tannehill, the Titans caught fire and moved on from him. In Las Vegas, he became Derek Carr’s backup and never started a single game. Moreover, in the offseason, the Raiders prioritized re-signing Nathan Peterman, who threw five interceptions in one half, over Mariota.
His release or trade would save the Raiders $10.7 million with no dead money. With this being said, it is easy to imagine that his time in Nevada is coming to an end. His future destination, however, is much more difficult to guess.
When the 2021 season begins in September, the former Oregon star will have completed 18 passes in the previous 23 months. Mariota is still good enough to stay in the NFL, but he appears to be headed toward the career of the perennial backup.