The NFL is thirsty. Real thirsty.
While money floats in at record paces, the league is suffering from a season where the on-field product pales in comparison to the off-field marketing. Multiple factors contribute to this, including a glaring issue that’s been building for years… the lack of quality quarterback play. Yes, there are 32 starting quarterbacks in the league, but the NFL hardly has 32 players capable of leading their team to a championship. This issue is exacerbated when a team loses their starter and has to rely on the backup for any extended period of time. Backups in the NFL come in three varieties; future starters, former starters and never-had-a-chance-to-be starters.
Teams such as the Denver Broncos and to a lesser extent the Cleveland Browns, are members of the first category. Brock Osweiler was a 2012 second-rounder and Johnny Manziel a 2014 first rounder who for very different reasons were on the bench when the starting quarterbacks went down to injury. Pittsburgh survived a few games starting Landry Jones, who falls into the latter category. For the most part, though, backups in the NFL are like Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel, players deemed as insufficient starters. For some reason, that is the route that the Dallas Cowboys have always taken under Jason Garrett.
After the failed experiment of Stephen McGee, the Dallas Cowboys have scoffed at the idea of spending resources on the quarterback position. McGee and 2001 second-rounder Quincy Carter are the only two players Dallas has drafted at the position this millennium. The most important position in all of football and they’ve spent a lowly two picks in 15 years. Many observers (myself loudly included) have begged the club to devote draft resources over the past couple of seasons to the position. Tony Romo’s history of back issues obviously showing a need for a worthwhile backup because frankly, retread quarterbacks don’t win in the NFL.
If you’re going to lose your starter, you might as well put in a guy that has upside as opposed to a guy who you already know his ceiling. If he doesn’t “hit”, it’s the same result as would likely be achieved by a former starter. If he does, you now have a real asset either to build a future around or flip for more lottery tickets also known as draft picks.
Dallas hasn’t agreed, and in 2015 it bit them square in the ass.
Tony Romo will miss 12 entire games, and the majority of two others this season due to his injuries. It’s not as if injuries for him are unexpected; he missed three games in 2008 and 10 more in 2010. Romo had back surgery following the 2012 season, then back surgery again following the 2013. Then… wait for hit… he broke his back during the 2014 season and played through it for over 10 weeks of Toradol shots. If any starting quarterback warranted a solid backup plan, it’d be Romo. Yet still, Dallas decided that Kyle Orton was the best bet (yes, the guy who lost his job to Tim Tebow) for 2013 and 2014. After Orton jilted them last summer, they saw Brandon Weeden up close and personal, and still entered 2015 with him as the back-up plan.
The NFC East is a raging flood of disappointment and the hands down best team in the division (no, the lost season isn’t all on Romo) couldn’t do enough to stay in the race. Think Derek Carr would’ve helped? Brock Osweiler? It’d be hindsight if the cries for help weren’t decaying in the echo chamber for multiple seasons.
Now the 2016 offseason is rapidly approaching, and the Cowboys appear to finally be ready draft a quarterback. There’s no guarantee they will find the guy they are looking for, nor is there one he’ll be available when they get on the clock in the first couple rounds. The reason? Again, there aren’t a lot of quality quarterbacks in the league now and other clubs are just as much in need as Dallas. Some moreso, because they don’t even have the franchise quarterback Dallas is trying to augment.
Here’s a look at the quarterback situations for each of the 32 clubs, based on current draft order which is subject to change over the next three weeks.
|Tennessee||1||Marcus Mariota. Nuff said.|
|Cleveland||7||Cleveland's front office malfunctioning might see the GM and staff let go; and the owner who loves JFF says…|
|San Diego||4||Rivers deal has escapes, but he's been ridiculously healthy his entire career.|
|Baltimore||3||Bmore is interesting as if they finish ahead of SF and Dallas could be trade destination for a QB needy team|
|San Francisco||9||They benched Kaepernick and have escapes from his deal.|
|Dallas||8.5||Get. Someone. In. The. Pipeline. Now.|
|Detroit||6||Stafford might be the most statistically overrated QB ever.|
|Miami||6||Will a new staff want to retain Tannehill? Probably will be forced to use him for a year, like Gruden-RGIII|
|Jacksonville||1||Bortles is on one.|
|Chicago||5||Jay Cutler, the bus driver? Could dabble if they believe in a guy.|
|St. Louis||10||Nick Foles got benched for Case Keenum, man.|
|New Orleans||6||This rises if Sean Payton is let out his deal.|
|New York Giants||4||Eli doesn't miss games and just signed a fatty.|
|Tampa Bay||1||Jameis, son.|
|Atlanta||3||Matt Ryan might be red zone pickmania, but he's not going anywhere.|
|Philadelphia||8||Would be shocking if they saw Bradford as the long-term answer.|
|Oakland||1||Derek Carr is real, y'all.|
|Buffalo||6||Is the staff sold on Tyrod Taylor? There's 0$ invested in him, so they are in the mix.|
|Houston||6||Bryan Hoyer is the starting QB you are always trying to upgrade.|
|Pittsburgh||2||Why doesn't Big Ben seem as old as Eli and Rivers? Weird.|
|Washington||4||They'll likely resign Cousins to a deal they can escape easily after two years.|
|Indianapolis||1||Stuck with Luck.|
|NY Jets||6||Fitzpatrick is the better version of Hoyer, so his team will always look.|
|Minnesota||2||Teddy Bridgewater is safe and secure.|
|Kansas City||4||Alex Smith works there, nobody knows how, but he works in KC.|
|Seattle||2||Russell is playing Top 4 quarterback now after back-to-back SB appearances.|
|Green Bay||1||Best QB going.|
|Cincinnati||2||Dalton secured his place here for a few more years with his 2015.|
|Denver||4||Osweiler hasn't been dazzling, but will likely get a year of being the man in a new deal.|
|Arizona||4||Palmer's an MVP candidate but already retired before and is getting up there.|
|New England||1||He's a robot. Plus they have Jimmy G. Bastards.|
For now, there seem to be four players worthy of first round, early second round consideration. Jared Goff and Paxton Lynch seem like surefire Top 12 picks. Connor Cook and Carson Wentz could go anywhere in the Top 40. The interesting dynamic is teams that may need a quarterback wanting to jump San Francisco and Dallas in the first round, or jump into the last part of the second round before any of the QB-needy squads come back around on the clock. It should be a pretty interesting draft season.