NFL training camps are just around the corner! Over the next couple of weeks, we’re going to break down which offseason moves were the best at these five positions: quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end and offensive line. Let’s start with the player under center, shall we?
NFL training camps begin in mid-to-late July. In the meantime, all 32 teams have spent four-plus months fortifying their rosters via free agency and the draft. So in Part 1 of our summer series, we’ll rank the best five moves when it came to the quarterback position this offseason.
But first things first: who’s still available for a team looking to fortify this area?
Who’s Still Out There?
Frankly, the pickings are slim. Colin Kaepernick can’t seem to find a job while 2014 first-round pick Johnny Manziel (Cleveland Browns) is back in the news. There’s also 34-year-old Charlie Whitehurst and veterans such as Bruce Gradkowski and Robert Griffin III. So if you’re looking for a veteran quarterback now, you’ll be pretty hard-pressed to find a solution. Still, it’s somewhat mystifying that Kaepernick hasn’t gotten more of a look given the way he closed the season for the Niners.
Now, let’s get to the rankings…
5. Josh McCown, New York Jets
This is a good move, provided it’s nothing more than a stopgap. The New York Jets won just five games last season. Plus, both Ryan Fitzpatrick (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Geno Smith (New York Giants) have moved on.
McCown has been around and enjoyed somewhat of a rebirth the past two seasons, though. He’s started a total of 27 games the past four years for the Chicago Bears, Bucs and Browns—hitting on 60.4 percent of his throws with 42 scores opposed to 25 interceptions. Still, it’s imperative that both Bryce Petty and 2016 second-round pick Christian Hackenberg get extended playing time this fall.
4. DeShone Kizer, Cleveland Browns
Give credit to an organization that has swung and missed in the first round when it comes to this position. The Browns used three first-round picks on defensive end (Myles Garrett), safety (Jabrill Peppers) and tight end (David Njoku). Then things fell their way in the second round when Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer was still available. This is a franchise that has started 26 different signal-callers dating back to 1999. This past season, Hue Jackson’s club started three quarterbacks and saw three other players drop back to pass.
It won’t be a surprise to see the Browns, off a 1-15 showing, to once again start a trio of quarterbacks. Offseason addition Brock Osweiler joins Kizer and second-year pro Cody Kessler on a team that needs to show some more progress this fall.
3. Mike Glennon, Chicago Bears
A year ago, John Fox’s team was led by quarterback Jay Cutler. He was the team’s starter for eight seasons but hadn’t played in all 16 games since his debut season in the Windy City (2009). Cutler was limited to only five contests in ’16, was released this offseason and subsequently retired. Both Brian Hoyer (more on him later) and Matt Barkley started games for the Bears and David Fales saw action behind center. All three are now gone.
Enter Glennon, most recently of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and signee of a three-year, $45 million contract. So how did General Manager Ryan Pace reward the team’s newest signal-caller this offseason? The Bears traded up to the second spot in the draft to grab North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, don’t dismiss Glennon as an underrated addition to an offense with running back Jordan Howard and a slew of new wideouts.
2. Brian Hoyer, San Francisco 49ers
It’s safe to say that the former undrafted free agent has made the rounds in this league. And more times than not, he has been pretty efficient. In 2016, he replaced an injured Jay Cutler in Chicago but unfortunately didn’t last long himself. Still, Hoyer would complete 67 percent of his passes (134-of-200) for 1,445 yards, six touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Now he’s the starter for new Head Coach Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers and is surrounded by weapons such as wide receiver Pierre Garcon, recently of the Washington Redskins, tight end Vance McDonald along with the running back tandem of Carlos Hyde and Tim Hightower (New Orleans Saints).
It’s yet another chance for the 31-year-old Hoyer, who has played for five different teams so far. He should be a solid fit in the team’s revamped offense.
1. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
Last offseason, the then-defending AFC South champions gave former Denver Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler a four-year, $72 million deal without hesitation. Bill O’Brien’s club would go onto win another division title in 2016 but not without drama under center. The struggling Osweiler would be benched in favor of Tom Savage. Now the team is headed in yet another direction eventually: National Championship signal-caller Deshaun Watson.
Thanks to a major assist from the Cleveland Browns, the Texans were able to move into the No. 12 spot in April’s draft and grab Watson from the University of Clemson. Watson now joins Savage and veteran Brandon Weeden on the depth chart. Under Bill O’Brien, the Texans have started eight different quarterbacks in three seasons. And yet, still managed three straight 9-7 finishes. Look for Savage to start the season and Watson to make his presence felt sooner than later.
Which QB acquisitions did you think were among the best? Sound off below! And next up, we’ll be tackling running backs.