By Matteo Venieri
Boston University News Service
As teams across the National Football League 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 can be expected as we divide them into five tiers. In this piece, we are exploring the third tier: “Veteran QBs.”
Matthew Stafford (Los Angeles Rams)
As mentioned previously, the Rams acquired Matthew Stafford from the Lions for a package of picks. Jared Goff. Coach Sean McVay identified Stafford as the veteran quarterback who can take an L.A. team in winning mode back to the Super Bowl.
The lack of talent around him has likely been the primary reason for his shortcomings in the postseason. But, it is still risky for the Rams to go all-in on a quarterback without a single playoff victory in his 12-year career.
Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints)
After waiting several weeks for Drew Brees to announce his retirement, a new video fueled speculation for his unexpected comeback. In the video posted by his trainer Todd Durkin, Brees is shown doing an intense workout.
“Something must be brewing,” Durkin said in the caption.
After missing four games with fractured ribs and struggling with his accuracy late in the season, most NFL fans expected Brees to retire and join NBC’s broadcast booth. If he does decide to go for one last rodeo, Brees could go back to a Saints team that still needs a clear-cut starter. At 42, he could also take a page from Tom Brady’s book and look for a change of scenery with a new team.
Alex Smith (Washington Football Team)
Alex Smith played solid football in his incredible return on the field — and he is likely to continue playing. However, the 2020 Comeback Player of the Year will not be tossing the ball for the home team in the nation’s capital.
Smith, 36, was officially released on Friday in a move that helped the Washington Football Team save close to $15 million, parting ways after his recent harsh comments toward the team. Washington went through four different starters last season and, as coach Ron Rivera said, they are still “looking at all of [their] options.”
In his return, Smith went 5-1 as a starter and gave Washington their first NFC East title in five seasons. However, given the recent injury that almost cost him his life, it’s hard to foresee if NFL teams still see him as a starter and invest money on him.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (Miami Dolphins)
Journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick showed Miami fans glimpses of his magic in South Beach last season, often outshining rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa.
With the Dolphins at a crossroads between acquiring Deshaun Watson and confirming Tagovailoa, Fitzpatrick is very likely to change teams for the ninth time in his career.
Washington, Denver and a few other teams could utilize the 38-year-old Harvard graduate’s veteran presence both on and off the field.
Teddy Bridgewater (Carolina Panthers)
On his way out of Carolina, Teddy Bridgewater is looking for a new team, having already unfollowed the Panthers on social media.
Independently of the Panthers’ own push for Deshaun Watson, the former Viking’s struggles in the second half of the season may have convinced the team to part ways with Bridgewater. Under the right conditions, however, he can still be a solid starter. After all, he replaced an injured Brees in New Orleans in 2019.