Ideal Free-Agent (and Draft) Gifts for Baker, Lamar and NFL's Neediest Young QBs

Mike Tanier@@miketanierNFL National Lead WriterMarch 3, 2020

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) during an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

With free agency just days away and draft season heating up, it's time for teams to go shopping for what their young quarterbacks need to succeed.

The following list of "needy" quarterbacks consists of established young starters who are one to five weapons short of a full arsenal. The "gifts" we are giving them are all available and affordable, based on each team's cap situation and available draft picks. The goal in each case is to give the quarterback what he needs, not what his coach or general manager might want or pursue. We're playing Santa Claus or Oprah, not Nostradamus.

So without further ado: YOU get a gift and YOU get a gift and …


Josh Allen, Bills

The need: Go from kinda-OK to great, taking his team with him.

The gifts: Austin Hooper, WR; Robby Anderson, WR

The Bills have $82 million in cap space (per OverTheCap.com), a playoff-caliber roster and few other needs, so let's do some serious shopping. Anderson is the best pure deep threat on the market, making him the perfect target for Allen's dump-'n'-chase deep balls. And with Anderson and John Brown keeping safeties 25 yards off the ball, the versatile Hooper could catch 110 passes roaming the open space in the middle of the field.

Potential problems: Leaving aside the real possibility that Allen could be next year's Blake Bortles, coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane don't seem like the spending spree types. But the iron is red-hot, fellas: time to strike while the AFC East is potentially up for grabs—while also figuring out who Allen really is before he's the one looking to break the bank.


Sam Darnold, Jets

Adrian Kraus/Associated Press

The need: A functional offense/organization. But since that's not a problem that can be solved in free agency: any help he can get.

The gift: Joe Thuney, G

Skill-position upgrades won't matter at all if the Jets don't fix the offensive line that they have been neglecting for years. Left guard is a particular sore spot, as the team cycled through multiple journeymen last year, with predictable results. Thuney is one of the NFL's best young veteran guards, and signing him weakens the Patriots as an added bonus. Heck, Tom Brady might be on the first plane to Vegas when he hears that Thuney won't be blocking for him.

The Jets also have issues at left tackle (Kelvin Beachum is a free agent), center and right tackle. But you gotta start somewhere. 

Potential problems: At one point while researching this piece, I thought, "Say, Kenyan Drake would be a perfect fit in Adam Gase's offense!" And it took a moment before I realized that Gase already planted Drake in his doghouse bench in Miami. In other words, there's no such thing as a perfect situation that Gase and the Jets cannot somehow ruin. 


Lamar Jackson, Ravens

Nick Wass/Associated Press

The need: Win a Super Bowl ASAP.

The gift: Emmanuel Sanders, WR

Sanders turns 33 on St. Patrick's Day but is still effective, extremely versatile and brings gobs of playoff and Super Bowl experience to a team and quarterback that looked like it could use some in the last two postseasons. He can be Jackson's safety valve and sounding board, and it shouldn't be hard to talk him into signing with yet another team that's standing on the rung just below the Super Bowl.

Potential problems: The Ravens have terrible taste in wide receivers, so they'll sign Dez Bryant out of retirement or something instead.


Daniel Jones, Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - DECEMBER 29:  (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Daniel Jones #8 of the New York Giants in action against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium on December 29, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Ne
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The need: A legitimate go-to target.

The gift: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

Yes, yes, we all know Giants general manager Dave Gettleman loves "Hog Mollies" and can't wait to explain to us why it makes much more sense to use the fourth overall pick on a 360-pound offensive or defensive lineman. But we're handing out "gifts" here, not mock drafting. Jeudy would instantly become Jones' No. 1 receiver, Darius Slayton can build on his impressive rookie season as the No. 2 guy, and the Giants are set at the slot and tight end positions with Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate and Evan Engram.

It's an instant upgrade, and it makes more sense than signing a veteran security blanket (that's what Shepard and Tate are), risking big bucks on a Demarcus Robinson-type or trying to upgrade at receiver in the later rounds of the draft.

Potential problems: After selecting his Hog Mollie, Gettleman will either sign a veteran security blanket, risk big bucks on a Marcus Robinson-type or try to upgrade at receiver.


Baker Mayfield, Browns

The need: Increase the touchdown-to-Twitter-beef ratio significantly.

The gift: David Moore, WR

This is not a splashy move. The last thing the Browns need is more splash. But they do need a third receiver behind Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, ideally one who doesn't expect a lot of targets, is a willing run-blocker and special teamer, comes at an affordable price and brings exactly zero drama to the meeting room. Moore was just that kind of player for the Seahawks, and he's a useful big-play threat on the rare occasions that he does get his hands on the ball.

Potential problems: These are the Browns we are talking about. Everything is a potential problem.


Kyler Murray, Cardinals

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 15: Kenyan Drake #41 of the Arizona Cardinals takes a handoff from Kyler Murray #1 during a game against the Cleveland Browns at State Farm Stadium on December 15, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. Cardinals won 38-24. (Photo by Norm
Norm Hall/Getty Images

The need: Weapons who can help him build on his impressive rookie season.

The gifts: Pharoh Cooper, WR; Kenyan Drake, RB

Wait: Drake and Cooper already play for the Cardinals!

Murray needs a weapons upgrade, but the Cardinals will just be spinning their wheels if they sign other teams' free agents while letting their own go. Drake was a revelation last year and is a perfect fit in Kliff Kingsbury's offense. Cooper is a high-effort, low-cost Swiss Army knife. And with rookie Andy Isabella making a few big plays late last year and Hakeem Butler returning from a hand injury, the Cardinals might be in better shape at the skill positions than they look on paper.

Potential problems: Drake may want to try to cash in as a free agent, and the Cardinals (who are still paying David Johnson) may be understandably wary of getting into a bidding war with a running back who had a great half-year.


Mitchell Trubisky, Bears

Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

The need: To become significantly better at playing quarterback as soon as possible.

The gift: Derrick Henry, RB

Remember when the Titans won two playoff games in which Ryan Tannehill threw only 14 and 15 passes? The best way for the Bears to reach and win playoff games would be for Trubisky to throw only 15 or fewer passes. Sign Henry, run the ball 35 times per game, use Tarik Cohen for screens and stuff, unleash Khalil Mack and the defense to hold the opponent under 17 points, dominate the league, and then sign Trubisky to a six-year, $150 million contract! OK, maybe skip that last part. 

Potential problems: The Bears are in rough cap shape and may not be able to splurge for Henry; Melvin Gordon III could be a cheaper alternative. Also, running back David Montgomery had his moments as a rookie and has upside. But if Trubisky needs about a dozen offensive coaches to get over the hump, why not give him three running backs as well?


Carson Wentz, Eagles

Chris Szagola/Associated Press

The need: An entire receiving corps.

The gifts: Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor; K.J. Hill, WR, Ohio State; Antonio Gibson, RB/WR Memphis

The Eagles won't have much cap space left once they re-sign some of their free-agent veterans, and they should earmark whatever is left for signing someone like Byron Jones to upgrade their secondary (while downgrading the Cowboys secondary). 

So let's draft a sampler platter of new weapons for Wentz. Mims tore up both the Senior Bowl and combine. Hill ran poorly at the combine but caught everything in sight for the Buckeyes and during Senior Bowl week; he can do the things Nelson Agholor did before he became a meme. Gibson gives Wentz a Darren Sproles surrogate out of the backfield who can double as another slot weapon. Three rounds, three receivers: It's possible because of the extreme depth of this year's draft class. 

Potential problems: If Eagles rookie receivers had developed in the past, they wouldn't have been in so much trouble when DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery and Agholor got hurt last year.


Other needy quarterbacks of note:

Jared Goff, Rams: We would give the Rams a big box of cap space and first-round draft picks if we could, but they would blow it all in about 10 seconds.

Drew Lock, Broncos: A trade for Trent Williams would solve a lot of problems along the offensive line. John Elway can then draft a complement to Courtland Sutton, because Elway no longer drafts like he's blindfolded and pointing to the list of players who attended the combine.

Deshaun Watson: Needs a giant bottle of ibuprofen for dealing with Bill O'Brien on a daily basis.

Dak Prescott, Cowboys: He needs a contract. So let's give Jerry Jones the gift of clarity.

Aaron Rodgers, Packers: He's not young, but he does need receivers. But let's get real: Rodgers wouldn't be satisfied with anything we gave him, anyway.


Mike Tanier covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeTanier.