What next for the 2020 free agent quarterbacks?

New contract. Pastures new. Retirement.

Some of the possibilities facing the QBs currently not under contract for 2020 and beyond. Nine signal callers will end the 2019 season as unrestricted free agents.

For some, the choice may seem obvious, others are not so blessed with this luxury.

Old Guard

Tom Brady

Perhaps the game’s greatest ever QB has yet to officially confirm his status for next season. Compared to the previous few years, this has been one of slight struggle for Brady. He ranks 27th (of the 32 qualified QBs) for pass completion rate and his adjusted QBR rating places him in the vicinity of Jacoby Brissett and Daniel Jones.

This has led to the continuation of the ‘gradual decline‘ narrative that has long been attached to Brady’s back. The fact is however the Patriots have secured a playoff place for the umpteenth time in recent history. In light of any struggles, this is a well run franchise with a talented roster and Brady knows it.

He will be back in Foxboro no doubt. Expect a contract extension announcement in the off-season.

Drew Brees

A recent major snub for the NFL’s 100 All-Time Team. Another of the league’s finest signal callers has a decision to make. Brees will be eager to obtain a 2nd ring with the Saints, following the previous triumph way back in 2010.

After undergoing right thumb surgery at the beginning of the year and subsequently missing five games, Drew got a small taste of retirement and reportedly did not like it one bit. Coming off the longest layoff of his career, the only thought on his mind was getting back out on the field as soon as he could.


As long as this hunger and mentality continues, Brees will be playing in the NFL for a little while yet. Perhaps holding the Lombardi aloft in Miami at season end will be the only cause for him to consider calling it a career.

Philip Rivers

It’s been a rather tumultuous year for Philip Rivers and the LA Chargers. Playing in a stadium that is often filled more so with away fans have led to some talking heads labelling the year as a sixteen road game slate. In face of this adversity, they will end the year with a 2-6 record playing at ‘home’.

From the 2020 season, they will be cohabiting with the Rams at the brand spanking new facility in Inglewood. Whether this is enough motivation to keep the Rivers/Chargers relationship together remains to be seen.

Retirement appears to be off the board. He stated in his post week 17 game press conference the plan is to play more football. It was clear there was a tear in Phil’s eye as the presser came to an emotional close, this is all trending towards a fresh start elsewhere for Rivers.

Eli Manning

With the drafting of Daniel Jones, it became abundantly clear Eli Manning’s days with the Giants were reaching a close. Since being benched in week 3, Eli ought to have begun his goodbyes.

He returned for a two game stint late in the year when Jones went down with an ankle injury. Trotting off the field after conquering the Miami Dolphins, it was clear for all to see in the stadium this was a farewell from their once long-term starter.

With his wife and children by his side, the devoted home fans showed their appreciation for the soon to be retired two-time Super Bowl champion.

Payday Coming

Ryan Tannehill

Not a single soul foresaw this sort of season for Tannehill. He has comprehensively outplayed locker room partner Marcus Mariota. So much so, he more or less single-handedly thrust the Titans into playoff contention.

His astounding play has certainly bumped up the asking price for his services; the Titans will not be alone in handing him a signing sheet. It may well be a case of the highest bidder winning out.

It seems the most likely result here will be a multi-year deal to remain in Nashville. However if a bidding war does ensue, it’s possible Tannehill could be slapped with the franchise tag.

Dak Prescott

After handing out big contracts to play-makers Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper earlier in the year, the guy handing off or throwing them the ball remains unsigned.

With head coach Jason Garrett expected to be out of Dallas, it has led to some cryptic soundbites from Prescott. In reality, he is towing the party line here. Why would he speculate on another individual’s future when he is yet to sort his own?

Nonetheless, when the dust settles Dak should still be the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys for years to come.

Backup Brigade

Marcus Mariota

It’s pretty clear there is no future in Tennessee for Mariota. Having had five seasons to establish himself as the franchise quarterback, he has ultimately failed this test. The Titans will make resigning Tannehill the priority, leaving Marcus out in the cold.

So it begs the question where next and could he become an NFL starter once more. The QB needy teams across the league will be looking to the draft to resolve their issues.

Thus meaning Mariota may have to bide his time in finding a new home and be prepared to accept he will not be seen as anything more than a capable backup.

Teddy Bridgewater

It has been somewhat of a waiting game for Bridgewater. Ever since the Saints traded for him in August 2018, game time has been sporadic. The 2018 season yielded just the one start, which came in a week 17 outing when the Saints already locked up the #1 seed.

This season has proved more fruitful, what was Drew Brees’ pain became Teddy’s gain. In the five starts to his name he tallied 9 TDs with an average passer rating of 98.9.

For sure, the Saints organisation will want to keep Bridgewater in the building; he has proven to be a reliable backup and is seen as Drew Brees’ eventual successor. The off-season will prove if Teddy is on board with this philosophy.

Prove It

Jameis Winston

A situation like no other here, possibly one of the most frenetic seasons ever seen from a QB. Following the conclusion of the regular season, Winston founded the 30-30 club, having thrown 30 TDs and 30 INTs in a single season.

Rather ironically his final play of the year got taken back for six in an OT loss to the Atlanta Falcons. This lead to head coach Bruce Arians describing the play as “not helpful” when it comes to deciding on Jameis’ future.

There will be much chewing of the fat in the Tampa Bay front office. Many prospects entering the 2020 draft will be scouted and evaluated; options in the free agency market will be explored. It’s anyone’s guess which direction they choose. One to watch with intrigue over the off-season, perhaps a one-year ‘prove it’ contract will suffice.

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About Luke Conboy 38 Articles
Find me rambling about all things NFL. Houston Texans fan. Twitter @ConboyNFL

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