Ranking Every NFL Team's Quarterback Situation Heading into 2018 Season

Zach Kruse@@zachkruse2Senior Analyst IMay 25, 2018

Ranking Every NFL Team's Quarterback Situation Heading into 2018 Season

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    No position in the NFL can make or break a season quite like the quarterback.

    A team with a great starter and some injury luck is likely a playoff contender. Lose a great starter and have nothing behind him, and that playoff season can go up in smoke in a hurry. Any kind of deficiency at the position is almost always the beginning of the end in the NFL. 

    In the following slides, we'll break down every quarterback situation and depth chart in the NFL heading into the 2018 season, ranking all 32 from worst to best. The worst teams at quarterback will have talent issues and question marks galore; the best will have elite starters and legitimate backup plans. 


32. Buffalo Bills

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    Jeffrey T. Barnes/Associated Press

    Starter: AJ McCarron

    Backups: Josh Allen, Nathan Peterman

    The Bills traded away Tyrod Taylor, signed McCarron to a cheap quarterback deal and moved up in the draft to take Allen, the big-armed quarterback from Wyoming. No team has more question marks at the position. 

    McCarron made only three regular-season starts over four years in Cincinnati and received little interest from teams in free agency. He eventually had to settle for backup-level money and must be viewed as a stop-gap starter. Meanwhile, Allen enters the NFL with big question marks regarding his accuracy and pro-readiness. Even as the No. 7 overall pick, he'll likely need at least a year before he's ready to start. 

    The Bills also have Peterman, who threw five interceptions in one half during his first NFL start last season. 

    Unless McCarron or Peterman find a way to steady the ship, or Allen impresses early, expect Buffalo to have a tumultuous year at quarterback in 2018. 

31. Jacksonville Jaguars

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Starter: Blake Bortles

    Backups: Cody Kessler, Tanner Lee

    Jacksonville's ranking here is a testament to how dominant the rest of the roster was around the quarterback position during the Jaguars' run to the AFC title game last season. 

    There really isn't much to like about the quarterback depth chart. Bortles received a contract extension this offseason despite throwing 29 interceptions and posting an 81.5 passer rating over the last two seasons. He has one season of competent quarterback play in four years in Jacksonville and can now be safely labeled one of the NFL's worst starters. The Jaguars don't ask Bortles to do much because they've learned he's not capable of much. 

    The backups are equally uninspiring. Kessler flashed some ability over 12 games and eight starts with the Browns over the last two years, but he looks like nothing more than a career backup. Lee is a sixth-round pick who many believed would go undrafted last month. He was plagued by turnovers and accuracy issues at Nebraska, and those issues don't go away in the NFL. 

30. New York Jets

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    Starter: Josh McCown

    Backups: Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold

    McCown is a reliable veteran coming off a strong 2017 season, and Bridgewater has big potential if his knee regains strength, but the future of the Jets franchise rests in the hands of Darnold, the third overall pick. 

    A playmaker with all the tools necessary to be a good NFL starter, Darnold should receive an opportunity to start games as a rookie. But he'll need to beat out a couple of established veterans to win the job. McCown posted a 94.5 passer rating over 13 games in 2017, and Bridgewater led the Vikings to the postseason in 2015 before suffering a catastrophic knee injury the next summer. 

    All that said, McCown turns 39 in July, and Bridgewater is a huge unknown after missing the majority of the last two seasons. The Jets will likely go through some peaks and valleys at quarterback in 2018. 

29. Baltimore Ravens

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    Starter: Joe Flacco

    Backups: Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin III, Josh Woodrum

    Flacco's career is submarining. Last season, he finished last in the NFL in yards per attempt (5.72), 26th in passing yards per game (196) and 25th in passer rating (80.4). There's a strong case to be made that he was one of the two or three worst starters in the NFL in 2017. 

    That reality manifested in the draft, when general manager Ozzie Newsome moved back into the first round to take Lamar Jackson. The Heisman Trophy winner has undeniable talent and athletic ability, but he'll need time to develop as a passer at the NFL level, and the Ravens will need time to readjust the offense around his unique abilities. Flacco and Jackson are polar opposite players. 

    Griffin hasn't played in a game since 2016, and Woodrum is an undrafted free agent out of Liberty. Neither is likely to contribute.

28. Cleveland Browns

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    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    Starter: Tyrod Taylor

    Backups: Baker Mayfield, Drew Stanton, Brogan Roback

    Taylor was jettisoned out of Buffalo, but he brings veteran respectability to the position. Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick, provides the buzz and the undeniable potential. Together, the two could finally stabilize one of the most unstable quarterback groups in the NFL over the last two decades. 

    Stanton, a nine-year vet who is still holding on as a backup, could stick as the third quarterback. 

    The Browns will hope for one of two outcomes in 2018: Either Taylor provides some consistency at quarterback for an otherwise talented roster, or Mayfield takes the job and runs with it, much in the same way Russell Wilson did in Seattle back in 2012. Competent quarterback play could quickly throw Cleveland back into contention. 

27. Miami Dolphins

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    Starter: Ryan Tannehill

    Backups: Brock Osweiler, Bryce Petty, David Fales

    The Dolphins' depth chart at quarterback currently consists of a starter coming off a torn ACL and two failed quarterbacks from elsewhere, plus a former undrafted free agent. Ouch. 

    Tannehill missed the entire 2017 season after hurting his knee in training camp, and both Osweiler and Petty couldn't convert on multiple chances to start games outside of Miami. Neither would inspire confidence if Tannehill went down again. 

    Fales spent some time with head coach Adam Gase in Chicago but lacks NFL experience. 

    The Dolphins better hope Tannehill comes back strong in 2018. The entire quarterback position might need to be overhauled if he fails. 

26. New York Giants

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    Starter: Eli Manning

    Backups: Davis Webb, Kyle Lauletta, Alex Tanney

    The Giants have surrounded Manning with talent, making it possible that the 37-year-old quarterback will bounce back from one of the worst seasons of his NFL career. Running back Saquon Barkley, the return of Odell Beckham Jr. and a better offensive line could take much of the pressure off Manning's shoulders and extend his career. 

    After Manning, however, the group looks shaky. Webb is a third-round pick with size and potential, but he's never played in a regular-season game. Lauletta has been compared by some to Jimmy Garoppolo, but he doesn't have a great arm and might have a limited ceiling. 

    The Giants could be in big trouble if Manning flatlines and neither Webb nor Lauletta is ready to take over. 

25. Arizona Cardinals

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    Starter: Sam Bradford

    Backups: Mike Glennon, Josh Rosen, Chad Kanoff

    The Cardinals' quarterback group isn't without talent. Bradford can be a high-level starter when healthy, and Rosen is entering the NFL as arguably the most pro-ready passer in the draft class. Both could play and play well for Arizona in 2018. 

    But question marks do remain. Bradford can't seem to shake the injury bug, Glennon was a disaster as a starter in Chicago last season, and Rosen is still unproven at the NFL level. One injury to Bradford and the whole operation could fall apart on the Cardinals this season. 

    Ideally, Bradford would play the majority of the season, allowing Rosen a chance to ease his way in. Will Bradford's knees allow it?

24. Kansas City Chiefs

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    Starter: Patrick Mahomes

    Backup: Chad Henne, Matt McGloin, Chase Litton

    It took only one season and one start for the Chiefs to hand the keys over to Mahomes, who showed off his playmaking ability and elite arm as he led Kansas City to a come-from-behind win over the Denver Broncos in Week 17 last season. He's now the unquestioned starter after the Chiefs shipped Alex Smith to Washington. 

    Expect some growing pains. Mahomes has a cannon arm and can move around to buy time and extend plays, but his gun-slinging ways will likely result in some ugly plays for the Chiefs in 2018. It's part of the learning process every young quarterback goes through as a first-time starter. 

    The Chiefs wisely surrounded Mahomes with two veterans in Henne and McGloin. Henne and McGloin have thrown 49 combined passes over the last three seasons, but they've started plenty of games in the NFL and can help Mahomes make the transition. They can also play and run the offense in the event Mahomes goes down. 

23. Chicago Bears

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    Starter: Mitchell Trubisky

    Backup: Chase Daniel, Tyler Bray

    Trubisky started 12 games as a rookie and went through his share of ups and downs, throwing seven touchdown passes and seven interceptions while averaging 182.8 passing yards per game and finishing with a pedestrian passer rating of 77.5. The Bears knew they needed more, so they hired an offensive-minded head coach (Matt Nagy) and surrounded Trubisky with new toys in the passing game (Allen Robinson, Trey Burton, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller). 

    The hope is that a modern offensive scheme and more talent around the quarterback will push along a big second-year jump from Trubisky. The Bears could enjoy a Rams-like improvement in 2018 if all goes to plan and Trubisky takes big strides as a passer.

    Nagy helped along the process of developing Trubisky by adding Daniel and Bray, two former Chiefs quarterbacks who know the system. Daniel has only started two NFL games but has been around since 2010 and could play in a pinch. Bray has good size and should stick as the No. 3.  

22. Cincinnati Bengals

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    John Minchillo/Associated Press

    Starter: Andy Dalton

    Backups: Matt Barkley, Jeff Driskel, Logan Woodside

    Dalton feels like the quarterback version of being the NBA's eighth seed in the playoffs. He's just good enough to get to the dance, but not good enough to get you where you really want to go. It's a form of quarterback purgatory that can stall a franchise for years. 

    Let's be fair to Dalton: He's thrown 68 touchdown passes and only 27 interceptions the last three years. His quarterback rating is 93.9 since 2015. A team can win with those numbers. But he's also suffered a fall in completion percentage, yards per attempt and passer rating each of the last two seasons, and not surprisingly the Bengals missed the playoffs each of the last two seasons. Dalton, who turns 31 in October, is trending in the wrong direction. 

    With AJ McCarron now in Buffalo, there's no real competition behind him. Barkley has eight career touchdown passes to 18 interceptions, and neither Driskel nor Woodside has attempted a pass in the NFL. It's hard to get excited about anything the Bengals have going on at quarterback. 

21. Denver Broncos

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    Starter: Case Keenum

    Backups: Paxton Lynch, Chad Kelly, Nick Stevens

    There's some risk in banking on a journeyman like Keenum as the Broncos' unquestioned starter, but his breakout season with the Vikings last year was no joke. He completed 67.6 percent of his passes, tossed 22 touchdown passes and finished with a passer rating of 98.3. The Broncos will be in great shape in 2018 if he can repeat those numbers. 

    Keenum's career numbers before 2017 suggest he might not, but he'll have a good group of receivers and an elite defense to fall back on—much like he had in Minnesota last season. 

    Lynch, a former first-round pick, is approaching bust status but will likely be the primary backup. He'll have to beat out Kelly, the nephew of Hall of Famer Jim Kelly. He has a live arm and could push Lynch to be the No. 2. 

20. Tennessee Titans

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    Starter: Marcus Mariota

    Backups: Blaine Gabbert, Luke Falk

    Mariota followed up a career-best season in 2016 with a career-worst season in 2017, clouding his outlook as the franchise quarterback in Tennessee. That title isn't in any immediate danger, but the Titans need more than the 13 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions Mariota produced last season. 

    Although nothing is guaranteed at quarterback, Mariota is probably too talented—both as a passer and a runner—for him not to produce a bounce-back season in 2018. 

    Even so, the Titans still safeguarded the position by adding Gabbert and drafting Falk, providing the veteran and youngster all teams want behind the starter in the quarterback room. Gabbert has made 45 NFL starts, while Falk has starting potential if allowed to develop in Tennessee. 

19. Houston Texans

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    Stephen Brashear/Associated Press

    Starter: Deshaun Watson

    Backups: Brandon Weeden, Joe Webb, Stephen Morris

    This ranking will look entirely too low if Watson returns from last season's knee injury and picks up where he left off. The young quarterback produced 21 total touchdowns during his first seven NFL games, and while he probably can't repeat that torrid pace as a sophomore, he did prove himself capable of making big plays with both his arm and legs as a rookie. 

    His recovery from ACL surgery will likely shape the trajectory of the Texans' season. If he's healthy and the knee is strong, Watson could be a breakout star for a team that is talented enough to compete for a spot in the playoffs in 2018. 

    The Texans aren't loaded behind Watson, but Webb is experienced and versatile, and Weeden has thrown almost 1,000 career passes in the NFL. Morris is on his sixth NFL team since coming out of Miami in 2014.

18. Indianapolis Colts

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    AJ Mast/Associated Press

    Starter: Andrew Luck

    Backups: Jacoby Brissett, Brad Kaaya, Phillip Walker

    Everything depends on Luck returning from last season's shoulder injury and regaining his status as one of the NFL's most talented passers. It's a lot to ask from a quarterback who hasn't thrown a pass in a real game since the last week of the 2016 season. 

    Then again, Luck was fantastic that season, totaling 31 touchdown passes and producing a 96.4 passer rating. That's the quarterback the Colts need back. 

    Brissett was a pleasant surprise at times as the Colts' top quarterback last season, but he could benefit from sitting behind Luck and developing his game from the sideline. Luck and Brissett could form a really good 1-2 if both are healthy. 

    Kaaya, a more traditional pocket passer who was drafted by the Lions, will battle Walker, an athletic playmaker, to be the third quarterback. 

17. Oakland Raiders

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    Starter: Derek Carr

    Backups: EJ Manuel, Connor Cook, Christian Hackenberg

    Jon Gruden's first task as head coach of the Raiders should be helping Carr get back to his 2016 levels. In 2017, Carr saw a regression in completion percentage, touchdown passes, interceptions, yards per attempt and passer rating.

    Also, the late-game magic dried up. After delivering 11 combined come-from-behind victories in 2015 and 2016, Carr had just one last season. The Raiders go as Carr goes, and he stalled too often in 2017. Combining Carr's big arm with one of Brett Favre's former coaches could be the connection that gets him back on track. 

    Behind Carr, the Raiders have EJ Manuel, who has made 18 career starts, and Cook, a fourth-round pick of the Raiders in 2016. Hackenberg was added via trade with the Jets earlier this week. All three could get a legitimate shot to back up Carr in 2018. 

16. San Francisco 49ers

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    Starter: Jimmy Garoppolo

    Backups: CJ Beathard, Nick Mullens, Jack Heneghan

    Garoppolo arrived from New England in November and totally changed the trajectory of Kyle Shanahan's first season in San Francisco. The 49ers finished with five straight wins with Garoppolo under center, including two come-from-behind victories. 

    Overall, Garoppolo completed 67.4 percent of his passes, with seven touchdowns, five interceptions and a passer rating of 96.2. A full season with him under center could make the 49ers one of the NFL's breakout teams in 2018. 

    Beathard started five games as a rookie and finished with a passer rating of 69.2. He'll likely improve as a second-year player who can learn behind Garoppolo. Mullens and Heneghan, two undrafted free agents, will compete to be the No. 3 quarterback. 

15. Dallas Cowboys

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    Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

    Starter: Dak Prescott

    Backups: Cooper Rush, Mike White, Dalton Sturm

    Prescott's passing numbers were down across the board during his sophomore season. While disappointing, he is still one of the NFL's best young quarterbacks, and improvement in 2018 should be expected. Prescott is a more athletic version of Philip Rivers, with accuracy and toughness from the pocket. 

    What's behind Prescott should be a much bigger concern for the Cowboys. 

    Rush, White and Sturm might represent the worst backup trio in the NFL. Rush and Sturm are former undrafted free agents, while White is a rookie with some size and passing ability. The Cowboys better hope they unearthed another mid-round gem in White. Any injury to Prescott could be season-ending in Dallas.

14. Carolina Panthers

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    Chuck Burton/Associated Press

    Starter: Cam Newton

    Backups: Taylor Heinicke, Garrett Gilbert, Kyle Allen

    Newton is frustratingly inconsistent as a passer, but he remains one of the NFL's most difficult quarterbacks to defend. He's built like a tight end with the elusiveness and natural running ability of a running back, giving him a dual-threat power no other quarterback can match. 

    Newton has 21 rushing touchdowns over the last three seasons, including 10 during his MVP season in 2015, but his passing production is trending the wrong way, especially since 2016. His passer rating is just 78.2 over the last two years. 

    Derek Anderson is no longer in Carolina as the backup, a role which will likely go to Heinicke, who comes from Norv Turner's system in Minnesota. Gilbert has never thrown a pass in an NFL game, and Allen is an undrafted free agent. Like so many teams on this list, the Panthers would be in trouble if Newton went down. 

13. Los Angeles Rams

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    Chris Carlson/Associated Press

    Starter: Jared Goff

    Backups: Sean Mannion, Brandon Allen

    Goff shook off a shaky rookie season to become one of the NFL's breakout stars in 2017. He threw 28 touchdown passes and only seven interceptions while leading the NFL in yards per completion (12.9) and finishing with a passer rating of 100.5. The Rams finished the season as the top-ranked offense. 

    It'll be interesting to see if Goff can repeat those numbers in Year 3. Opponents have had an entire offseason to break down Sean McVay's offense and figure out ways to slow down the Rams' passing game. Goff and McVay will have to adjust to adjustments. 

    The Rams also can't afford for Goff to go down. Mannion has 235 career passing yards, while Allen has never thrown a pass in a regular-season game. Adding a veteran backup might have helped stabilize the position behind Goff. 

12. Washington Redskins

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Starter: Alex Smith

    Backup: Colt McCoy, Kevin Hogan

    The Redskins swapped out Kirk Cousins for Smith, who is coming off his best NFL season. He completed 67.5 percent of his passes and threw 26 touchdown passes and only five interceptions for the Chiefs in 2017, producing a career-high passer rating of 104.7. Smith takes care of the football and efficiently distributes it to his playmakers. 

    The backup situation is also in good shape, with McCoy providing the veteran option with starting experience, and Hogan giving Washington an intriguing young quarterback to develop behind Smith.

    Smith should provide consistency and a proven ability to manage the game, and Washington could get by with McCoy playing a game or two. That's a comfortable spot to be in at the quarterback position. 

11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Starter: Jameis Winston

    Backup: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Griffin, Austin Allen

    The Buccaneers have one of the more underrated setups at quarterback, with a young, talented and improving starter in Winston and an experienced, reliable backup in Fitzpatrick. 

    Winston's 2017 season looked shaky at times, but he improved in many key areas, including completion percentage, interception percentage, yards per attempt and passer rating. A breakout season could be coming in 2018. If it does, the Bucs could be one of the NFL's most improved teams. 

    Fitzpatrick might be 35 years old, but he threw seven touchdown passes and helped the Bucs win two of his three starts last season. He can play in a pinch and help a team win games in the short term. 

    Griffin hasn't played in a regular-season game in his career but has stuck around on a roster every year since 2013. He'll compete with Allen, an undrafted free agent out of Arkansas, to be the third quarterback. 

10. Los Angeles Chargers

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    Chris Carlson/Associated Press

    Starters: Philip Rivers

    Backups: Geno Smith, Cardale Jones

    The up and down nature of the Chargers has made Rivers one of the most underappreciated quarterbacks in the game. He'll take chances down the field, but he's also accurate, tough in the pocket and an ultimate competitor. 

    Rivers' 96.0 passer rating in 2017 was his highest since 2013. He cut down on his interceptions and increased his completion percentage, all while throwing 28 touchdown passes and averaging 7.9 yards per attempt. Rivers is good for those numbers almost every season. 

    He is 36 years old, however, and while the Chargers have two recognizable names behind him, there's no obvious succession plan. Neither Smith nor Jones has demonstrated a capacity to be a competent NFL starter. Expect the Chargers to use a high pick on the position in the coming years.

9. Minnesota Vikings

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    Starter: Kirk Cousins

    Backup: Trevor Siemian, Kyle Sloter, Peter Pujals

    Cousins arrives in Minnesota after throwing 81 touchdown passes and only 36 interceptions over the last three seasons in Washington. The numbers have rarely been a problem for Cousins. Now, he'll need to deliver big things in the win column after signing a fully guaranteed contract with the defending NFC North champions. 

    One thing to note: Cousins' completion percentage and passer rating have dipped each of the last two seasons. He'll have no excuses on a talented team with weapons on offense and a star-studded defense. 

    Behind Cousins, the Vikings added Siemian, who started 24 games for the Broncos over the last two seasons. He struggled at times as a starter but should be just fine as a backup. Sloter produced a 125.7 passer rating during his rookie preseason in Denver.

8. Detroit Lions

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    Duane Burleson/Associated Press

    Starter: Matthew Stafford

    Backups: Matt Cassel, Jake Rudock

    Stafford has cut down on the turnovers and improved his overall efficiency (completion percentage, passer rating) over the last three seasons, helping push him safely into the top 10 quarterbacks in the league. He's also one of the toughest and most clutch passers, with seven straight seasons playing all 16 games and 26 career fourth-quarter comebacks. 

    His 99.3 passer rating in 2017 was a career high. 

    The Lions added Cassel as a veteran backup who should push Rudock, a sixth-round pick in 2016. While experienced, Cassel is 35 years old and lacking any kind of recent track record of success as a quarterback. He could get the Lions through a game if Stafford were to go down, but he'd likely struggle if asked to play multiple games. Rudock has only thrown five career passes. 

7. Seattle Seahawks

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    John Froschauer/Associated Press

    Starter: Russell Wilson

    Backups: Austin Davis, Alex McGough

    Few quarterbacks are as important to their respective teams as Wilson, who led the NFL in touchdown passes and his own team in rushing yards during the 2017 season. The Seahawks have quickly shifted away from a run-first, defense-centered team to one run almost completely by Wilson.

    Added pressure hasn't meant less efficient results. Over his first six NFL seasons, Wilson has averaged 27 touchdown passes, nine interceptions, 546 rushing yards and three rushing scores, with an overall passer rating of 98.8. He's a game-changer at the quarterback position. 

    The problem here is depth behind Wilson. The Seahawks would be in big trouble if Davis, who hasn't thrown a pass in a regular season game since 2015, had to play meaningful snaps in 2018. McGough, a seventh-round pick, is the developmental option.

6. New Orleans Saints

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    Bill Feig/Associated Press

    Starter: Drew Brees

    Backups: Tom Savage, Taysom Hill, J.T. Barrett

    Brees is 39 years old and coming off a season in which he threw 23 touchdown passes, his fewest since 2003, but he remains as ruthlessly efficient as ever. He completed 72 percent of his passes and averaged 8.1 yards per attempt in 2017, both league highs, proving he's still one of the NFL's top-tier quarterbacks. 

    A new two-year deal will keep Brees in New Orleans through 2019. 

    Head coach Sean Payton still has time to find a successor. No one currently on the depth chart looks like a future option, even if Hill impressed during his rookie preseason with the Green Bay Packers. He'll compete with Savage, who started games for Houston last season, to back up Brees. It could get dicey in New Orleans if Brees were to miss time in 2018. 

5. Atlanta Falcons

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    Starter: Matt Ryan

    Backups: Matt Schaub, Garrett Grayson, Kurt Benkert

    Ryan's overall numbers took a hit in 2017, but he remains one of the NFL's most productive and reliable quarterbacks. The Falcons recently made him the highest paid player in league history, showing just how highly they think of the 2016 NFL MVP.

    While he may never repeat his dominant season from two years ago, it wouldn't be surprising if Ryan put together another quality season. He's surrounded by weapons on offense, including first-round pick Calvin Ridley.

    Atlanta's backup situation includes a veteran with starting experience (Schaub) and two young passers, with Benkert representing a potential developmental option. He made big throws from the pocket at Virginia and could eventually develop into a quality backup. 

4. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    Starter: Ben Roethlisberger

    Backups: Landry Jones, Joshua Dobbs, Mason Rudolph

    Roethlisberger might be a retirement question mark year-to-year, but it's hard to argue with his consistency. Over the last five years, he's averaged 27 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions per season, with a passer rating of 96.0. Now 36, Big Ben still has the arm and escapability in the pocket to be an upper-tier quarterback in the NFL for several more seasons. 

    Three mid-round draft picks will compete for backup roles. Jones has started seven games and sports a career passer rating of 86.2, Dobbs has playmaking ability and athleticism but room to grow as a passer, and Rudolph has the pocket awareness and poise of a future starter. Will one of the three emerge as a viable successor to Roethlisberger? 

3. Green Bay Packers

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    Bob Leverone/Associated Press

    Starter: Aaron Rodgers

    Backups: DeShone Kizer, Brett Hundley, Tim Boyle

    Rodgers returns after missing nine games with his second broken collarbone in five years during the 2017 season. He's the most talented and ruthlessly efficient quarterback in the NFL when healthy. Through five games last year, Rodgers was on pace to throw almost 42 touchdown passes for the 4-1 Packers. He led comeback wins over the Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys and was one of the early favorites to win MVP. 

    The Packers made big changes behind him this offseason, trading for Kizer and releasing Joe Callahan. Kizer struggled to protect the football during his 15 starts with the winless Browns as a rookie, but he has the size, arm talent and athletic ability worth developing.

    Hundley's future is now up in the air after bombing in place of Rodgers last season. It's possible the Packers will entertain trading Hundley at some point, especially if they like Boyle as the third quarterback stashed on the practice squad. 

2. New England Patriots

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    Starter: Tom Brady

    Backups: Brian Hoyer, Danny Etling

    The five-time Super Bowl winner and four-time Super Bowl MVP is the Patriots' heart and soul and arguably the greatest quarterback of all time. Brady threw 32 touchdown passes and led New England to the Super Bowl for the third time in four years in 2017. He'll turn 41 in August, but he's shown no signs of slowing down. 

    Behind him, the Patriots have Hoyer, who started his career in New England and now has 37 career starts, plus Etling, a rookie draft pick from LSU. 

    The one question mark? Brady's successor. Is he on the roster? It doesn't look like it.  

1. Philadelphia Eagles

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    Starter: Carson Wentz

    Backups: Nick Foles, Nate Sudfeld, Joe Callahan

    Foles is the reigning Super Bowl MVP after out-dueling Tom Brady in Minneapolis, and Wentz was the front-runner to win league MVP when he went down with a knee injury late last season. No other team can boast that kind of star power and reliability at the top of the quarterback depth chart. Even if Wentz isn't ready to start the regular season, Foles is capable of holding down the fort without the Eagles missing a step. 

    Sudfeld completed 19 of 23 passes during his only action last season, and Callahan was groomed behind Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. They'll battle to be the No. 3 quarterback in training camp.


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