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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Teams in Desperate Need of a Quarterback Upgrade

It is a no brainer that the NFL is a quarterback-driven league. Since 2001, only three non-quarterbacks have won the NFL MVP award. We could argue that any team’s most valuable player is a quarterback, and that the success of the team hinges on the productivity of their signal caller. Given the importance of the position, teams would want to have all the questions surrounding their quarterbacks answered. Let’s look at the seven teams that must have such questions answered this off-season.

1. New England Patriots

The Patriots are enjoying the Super Bowl win, but even the champs need to sort their quarterback situation. Tom Brady is aging, and Jimmy Garoppolo is entering the last year of his rookie contract. Brady plans to play a few more seasons, so the Patriots must either cash in on the interest surrounding Garoppolo or pay him like a starter to sit on the bench. The uncertainty of Brady’s longevity makes it impractical and expensive to commit to Garoppolo long term. Brady has three more years left on his current contract, giving the Patriots time to develop a successor like Jacoby Brissett or a future draft pick.

2. Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys had an explosive rookie duo in Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. The team decided to keep Prescott as the starter, even when Tony Romo recovered from his back injury, so now what? Romo has been sidelined for decent-sized portions of four straight seasons. With several teams needing a quarterback, the Cowboys could get some value back for Romo via a trade or release him to improve their salary cap. Prescott proved to be a valuable offensive weapon, and with the Cowboys’ offensive line, he will have the protection he needs to succeed and mature.

3. Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears have probably endured one of the worst long-term commitments a team could make in a quarterback. In 2013, Jay Cutler signed a seven-year contract worth $126.7 million. Many speculations point toward the Bears being ready to close the book on the Cutler era, but I doubt they will simply release him, since he is the only quarterback currently under contract for next season. They should find another option, but they should not release Cutler for nothing until they have a suitable replacement. There is no time table to make a move on Cutler, since the Bears don’t have to pay him until week one. The Bears are expected to draft the top-rated quarterback prospect, Mitch Trubisky. They should test the waters and see how willing the Patriots are to let go of Garoppolo. Garoppolo would give them the youth and consistency they need to become contenders in the league. If they are serious about moving on from Cutler, they could also re-sign Brian Hoyer and acquire possible free agents Colin Kaepernick or Tyrod Taylor.

4. San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers are rumored to want to cut Kaepernick. The team has until April 4 to cut Kaepernick before his $19.4 million salary is guaranteed. Kaepernick can also opt out of his contract, but new head coach Kyle Shanahan may have plans for the mobile quarterback. The pair met with new GM, John Lynch, to discuss Kaepernick’s future. The meeting reportedly went well, and Kaepernick was allegedly excited after. He was expected to opt out March 2, but perhaps this meeting changed his mind. If Kaepernick leave the Bay Area, the 49ers should join the chase for Garoppolo and should push the Redskins about the availability of Kirk Cousins.

5. Buffalo Bills

On the other side of the country, the Bills are still deciding whether to pick up Tyrod Taylor’s option for next season. The Bills appear to want to keep Taylor if he is willing to restructure his contract, but he has not been open to that thus far. Taylor will likely find another team if cut, but the Bills will not see an affordable replacement for the position. The Bills still have EJ Manuel and Cardale Jones, but neither player is ready to lead the team, so the Bills will need to make a big singing if they let Taylor go.

6. New York Jets

Staying in New York, the Jets don’t have confidence in any of their quarterbacks, as they all are—at most—backup-caliber players. The Jets should seriously consider a choice like Cutler or Romo. Ryan Fitzpatrick took a step back last season, and none of the young quarterbacks seem ready to take the helm. They should also inquire about Kaepernick and Taylor, since these mobile threads fit the system the Jets tried to run with Geno Smith.

7. Cleveland Browns
As the situation is every year, the Cleveland Browns don’t have the quarterback position solidified. To no one’s surprise, they will likely continue their yearly ritual of drafting quarterbacks, then starting them in situations where they will fail. The Browns will likely turn to Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer to be their next quarterback experiment. Kizer doesn’t have to start right away, since the Browns have Robert Griffin III and Cody Kessler. The Browns have many pressing issues at various positions, so they should look to make improvements around the quarterback. The Browns would speed their rebuilding process if they looked for better receivers and offensive linemen to complement the quarterbacks they already have.