The NFL is a vicious business sometimes. More than a handful of veteran quarterbacks with a history of proven success are about to find that out firsthand.
What have you done for me lately? The answer to that question is what keeps people employed or leads to a pink slip. The good news is that one team’s trash can be another’s treasure.
With that in mind, here’s a look at five veteran quarterbacks who could be on the move in 2020, and where they might ultimately land.
5. Cam Newton, Chicago Bears
The Carolina Panthers will likely look to trade Newton this offseason, but are said to be looking for a substantial haul in return. That desire could make the former MVP difficult to move. But if Carolina is legitimately committed to moving on from the quarterback, those trade demands are bound to come down. If and when they do, the Bears are the most obvious potential destination for Newton; the two sides have been connected via rumor and speculation for a month. And while Mitchell Trubisky has played better of late, the Bears are unlikely to hitch their wagon to him long term. The possibility remains that Trubisky is merely on a hot streak, opening the door to a quarterback change in 2020. A combination of Cam Newton and a dominant defense may be too much for Chicago to pass up.
4. Marcus Mariota, Miami Dolphins
It’s clear that Mariota’s time with the Tennessee Titans is over, especially now that Ryan Tannehill is playing well and earning himself a new deal in 2020. So how ironic and fitting would it be if Mariota were to sign with the Dolphins, Tannehill’s old team, in 2020? I’m not suggesting it just to be cute, either. As odd as it would be for the two to swap places that way, it would actually make some sense. Tannehill has proven that a change of scenery can sometimes spark improved play, and with Miami having soured on Josh Rosen and unlikely to hang onto Ryan Fitzpatrick long term, a dual-threat player like Mariota may be just what the doctor ordered. Signing Mariota would also save Miami from having to invest a first-round pick into a quarterback, although they might do so anyway — and it’s likely the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner would come at a very team-friendly price.
3. Eli Manning, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Manning is in the final year of his contract with the New York Giants, and it’s no secret to anyone that he’ll be gone after the season. Whether that means Manning retires or looks to play elsewhere remains to be seen, but if it’s the latter, there will be a few suitors for the two-time Super Bowl MVP. Many assume reuniting with Tom Coughlin in Jacksonville would be the most logical step for Manning, but with Jameis Winston possible out in Tampa Bay, Manning could be an interesting potential option for Bruce Arians & Co. The team is built to compete, has a talented supporting cast, and would fit Manning’s style. It would also allow Tampa Bay to draft their future quarterback and have him learn under Manning for a year or two.
2. Philip Rivers, Carolina Panthers
Rivers’ time with the Los Angeles Chargers appears to be winding down, and retirement could be an option this offseason. If not, Rivers will be among the hottest veteran quarterback commodities. Unfortunately for Rivers, there will be an overwhelming amount of competition for just a few jobs, so he’ll need to find the right fit. And assuming the Panthers move on from Newton as expected, Carolina may ultimately prove to be his destination. With a new head coach incoming and Kyle Allen not viewed as the answer, Carolina could opt for a player with Rivers’ pedigree in hopes of putting them over the top and back into playoff contention. Not to mention, Rivers is a noted family man who played his college ball at NC State, so returning home may be an ideal scenario for him.
1. Tom Brady, Denver Broncos
No one genuinely believes the New England Patriots and Tom Brady will part ways after this season, but more and more evidence continues to pile up suggesting that a split could happen. And if there is a separation, even at the age of 42, Brady immediately becomes the No. 1 free agent target in all of football. Enter John Elway and the Broncos, who, despite having invested in rookie Drew Lock, would welcome Brady with open arms knowing that they’d become immediate Super Bowl contenders. A move to Denver would also pair Brady with Mike Munchak, who is one of the most successful offensive line coaches in football, providing Brady with all the protection he could possibly need to continue his NFL domination. I know, I know … it all sounds so crazy, but as Tom Brady Sr. recently said, even Joe Montana went on to play for the Kansas City Chiefs. Anything is possible.