The signal caller is the most important player on the field for any given NFL team. As such, they are given the biggest bucks in free agency. They also score the most points in the fantasy football realm. There were several free agent moves involving quarterbacks that will have some wide-ranging repercussions. Things are sure to change after the draft, but here is a breakdown of the changes in the quarterback position as we currently stand.[Jeff]
Brock Osweiler leaves Denver to sign a four-year, $72,000,000 ($37,000,000 guaranteed) contract
This, coupled with the departure of future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning left the Broncos reeling. They sent a sixth-round pick to Philadelphia for Mark Sanchez and are currently clearing cap space to make a move for the one-time Super Bowl starter Colin Kaepernick from the 49ers. Osweiler leaving puts the defending champions in a serious bind, as they’ll begin their title defense with a quarterback who wasn’t even on the team last season. Whether it is Sanchez or Kaepernick, they will have serious issues moving the ball in 2016. Demaryius Thomas should still be a back-end WR1, but Emmanuel Sanders would have more trouble being a consistent option outside of the WR3 range. If the Broncos stick with Mr. Butt Fumble, expect C.J. Anderson to have trouble running, but if the Broncos land Kaepernick and his running ability, Anderson’s runs should open up a bit more and he should be the Anderson we saw the second half of last season.
As for Osweiler and the Texans, they spent tens of millions of dollars on what might just be a lateral move. Sure, we all have the image of Brian Hoyer coughing the game up against the Chiefs in the playoffs last season, but he and Osweiler did not end their 2015 runs that differently. Here are the statistics in Osweiler’s seven starts and Hoyer’s eight starts after his return from being benched:
Osweiler was slightly more productive than Hoyer, but is just about half a yard per attempt worth it for the over ten-million-dollar increase in average annual value on their contract? Well, maybe. Osweiler will be overdrafted come August, because he shouldn’t be drafted at all in standard leagues. His upside is nearly non-existent. DeAndre Hopkins remains a top-ten receiver with the bulk of targets going his way to give him top-five potential. The lack of a quarterback competition will also provide a stability to the offense, which will mean consistent touches, and hopefully production, from the newest Texan, Lamar Miller.
As for Hoyer, he’s still officially a Texan, but will likely be moved or released before the draft.
Chase Daniel (2/$21,000,000) and Sam Bradford (2/$35,000,000) team up in Philadelphia
Sam Bradford was seemingly the only player that the Eagles didn’t jettison from the Chip Kelly Era, but the chronically underperforming quarterback received a different denouncement in the form of competition. Chase Daniel chased down his former OC Chase Pederson and received a pretty sum for a backup quarterback: $10.5 million per year for two years. This means only one thing in Philadelphia: an old fashioned quarterback controversy, but one without any of the upside of the Sam Bradford-Nick Foles competition under Chip Kelly. Pederson, an Andy Reid disciple, will likely run another dink-and-dunk offense through the tight ends and running backs. Whichever quarterback wins the competition will be solid but unspectacular; a poor-man’s Alex Smith. One receiver will come to the forefront in Philly, a la Jeremy Maclin in Kansas City. Jordan Matthews was the #1 last season, but the previous regime paid a mighty price to get Nelson Agholor on the roster, so don’t rule him out.
Chase Daniel leaving Kansas City leaves no fantasy relevant hole on the roster. Alex Smith is barely fantasy relevant himself, and anybody can hand the ball off to the bevy of running backs in their backfield.
Robert Griffin III finds new life in Cleveland (2/$15,000,000)
RGIII showed us his astronomically high highs and his Grand Canyon lows in his time with Washington, and he moves on to a Browns franchise that has been absolutely bereft of quarterback talent ever since they were resurrected. Griffin will be cheap; the last time we saw him the internet was gleefully doing screenshots of his inability to find an open receiver. Beware of Griffin’s potential helium come draft season, especially given that he has no receivers to throw to right now. He’s worth a third-to-last-round pick if you believe in him, but don’t pay anything more than that, given his downside.
The rest of the quarterback signings have been mostly inconsequential; unlikely to start backups and the churn of garbage that happens at the position. There’s one free agent move that may potentially have wide-spread ripples throughout the league.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is yet to sign with a team
The man known as Fitzmagic pulled off an incredible 2015 campaign for the Jets, but he and Gang Green are seemingly miles apart on a contract deal. Both sides are on a collision course for each other, as Ryan Fitzpatrick has few other suitors. The Broncos cleared some Kap Space by moving Ryan Clady, but Fitzpatrick is a dark horse candidate to start week one for the defending champs. My money is on him back in New York to build on what he and Chan Gailey built in 2015. If he returns, expect an even more dynamic offense with the addition of Matt Forte. If he lands in Denver, however, the 49ers will be left holding the bag on Colin Kaepernick’s contract, and then he becomes an interesting backend QB2 flyer under Chip Kelly.
Ultimately, the crop of quarterbacks is wholly uninspiring as fantasy options. The player with the potential to end up the highest in 2016 (RGIII) did not play at all last season, and the player likely to end up second highest on the list (Fitzpatrick) is still a free agent. None of these players should be toward the top of your draft boards. Still, their movement has repercussions for their associated position players, which is the real causation to consider in your drafts this year.