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Brissett, Dalton, Flacco and Other Forgotten QBs Who Could Be Offseason Steals

Mike Tanier@@miketanierNFL National Lead WriterMarch 10, 2020

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - DECEMBER 22:  Jacoby Brissett #7 of the Indianapolis Colts against the Carolina Panthers at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 22, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

In a quarterback market teeming with living legends (Tom Brady!), young veterans with face-of-the-franchise potential (Teddy Bridgewater!), top prospects (Joe Burrow!)some of whom could slip in the draft due to injuries (Tua Tagovailoa!)MVP-caliber damaged-goods trade bait (Cam Newton!), successful reclamation projects (Ryan Tannehill!) and guys the internet is weirdly obsessed with (Taysom Hill!), it's easy to forget that there's a second tier of quarterbacks out there who can still help teams and should soon be available for low prices. 

Think of the following list of less-talked-about quarterbacks as the "aftermarket." Most are under contract now but are likely to become available once the free agency/draft smoke clears and teams have found more appealing alternatives. All of them have starting experience, but with so many Burrow-through-Brady types for hire, they will be looking for work as backups, mentors or challengers to nudge/replace Mitchell Trubisky types. And there are so many of them that they should be available at affordable prices.

None of these guys will get your pulse racing, but they all can help a team under the right circumstances, and one or two of them might still have a future as NFL starters.

       

Jacoby Brissett

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He has been forgotten because… Brissett briefly looked like the potential solution to the Colts' quarterback-of-the-future problem after Andrew Luck's unexpected retirement, posting a 102.1 quarterback rating in September and leading the Colts to a 5-2 record at the start of last season. But Brissett's quarterback rating plunged to 74.5 in December once defenses figured out his play-it-safe style. The Colts' interest in Philip Rivers is the worst-kept secret of free agency, and the team should also be looking for a rookie prospect, which likely leaves Brissett as the odd man out.

He should be remembered because… Brissett is only 27 years old, has started 32 NFL games and possesses a Patriots pedigree. He's effective in short stints, making him an ideal insurance policy on the bench for a playoff-caliber team, but he's also young enough to push a starter at the crossroads. 

Brissett is still under contract, but the Colts can save $9 million in cap space by releasing him. He's likely to hit the open market at the same time as many other quarterbacks on this list, but he's younger and comes with more upside and less potential baggage.

  

Andy Dalton

MIAMI, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 22:  Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals looks on against the Miami Dolphins prior to the game at Hard Rock Stadium on December 22, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

He has been forgotten because… Dalton ceased being relevant sometime in 2016, but it takes the Bengals three or four years to catch up to such things. They benched him in favor of Ryan Finley this past October, but he won his job back a few weeks later. There's a good chance you don't remember any of that happening if you aren't a Bengals fan. 

He should be remembered because… Dalton has the makings of an ideal mentor: lots of experience, a team-first attitude, just enough leftover mobility to not get pulverized if he starts a few games for a bad team. He would make some sense as Joe Burrow's mentor, but the Bengals can save $17.7 million in cap space by letting him go, and growing too nostalgic about their veterans are what sunk them to the bottom of the standings in the first place.

As Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman reported last week, the Patriots have real interest in Dalton. It sounds like a ludicrous smokescreen, but Dalton could probably lead the Patriots to a 10-6 record in the AFC East given last year's defense and offensive line, and he has the temperament to replace a living legend without melting into a puddle of self-doubt, which will be an underrated and necessary skill for Brady's eventual heir.  

  

Joe Flacco

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - OCTOBER 27: Joe Flacco #5 of the Denver Broncos on the sidelines in the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 27, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
Justin Casterline/Getty Images

He has been forgotten because… A neck injury landed Flacco on injured reserve after eight unimpressive starts last year. The Broncos think Flacco will be healthy enough to play in 2020, but he will return as Drew Lock's backup, and they can save $10.05 million of his (holy cow) $23.65 million cap figure by releasing him.

He should be remembered because… A rumor that Eli Manning ate dinner with members of the Bears organization made headlines in Chicago. The Jaguars are reportedly trying to trade Nick Foles, per ESPN's Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler. Like it or not, there is still a market for tall, veteran "winner" quarterbacks. 

A reduced-rate Flacco could still make sense as some team's starter, but he's unlikely to relish that role, and better options (such as Dalton) are likely to be available. It's a testimony to just how glutted the quarterback market is right now that a veteran with Flacco's credentials, outdated as they may be, is barely an afterthought. 

  

Case Keenum

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - DECEMBER 29: Case Keenum #8 of the Washington Redskins throws a pass while being chased by Maliek Collins #96 of the Dallas Cowboys in the second quarter in the game at AT&T Stadium on December 29, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by To
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

He has been forgotten because… In the two seasons since he led the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game, Keenum has led the Broncos and Washington to a combined 7-17 record.

He should be remembered because… Keenum produced decent statistics for a talent-destitute Washington team last year, and he was more ordinary than awful in Denver. He isn't a franchise quarterback, but the 32-year-old Keenum can offer about the same services as Dalton or Flacco, and he's about to become a free agent: no trade negotiations necessary. A playoff-caliber team worried about who would come off the bench to cover a brief injury could do much worse than the pesky, always-prepared Keenum. 

  

Josh Rosen

Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

He has been forgotten because… For the second straight year, Rosen made the worst of a terrible situation in 2019. He lost his starting job for a Dolphins team that was only semi-interested in winning games after washing out as a rookie for the Cardinals the previous year. Rosen's career stats after 16 starts are ugly (12 touchdowns, 19 interceptions, a 63.5 rating), and the personality quirks that sparked some controversy in college have seemingly followed him to the NFL. For whatever reason, NFL coaches and general managers simply cannot wait to give up on him. 

He should be remembered because… Rosen just turned 23 last month and has been trapped in back-to-back no-win scenarios. He has shown flashes of the prospect he was expected to be in between lots of blown blocks, dropped passes and the sorts of mental errors young quarterbacks make when it's always 3rd-and-15 and they trail by two scores. 

Rosen isn't likely to get a third chance with so many potential starters hovering around the market this offseason. Some offensive guru will likely stash him on a bench and see what they can make of him. Rosen is a long shot, but the Brady-Rivers legends and Flacco-Dalton veterans will be gone soon, and the NFL will once again be looking for long shots who could become franchise quarterbacks. 

  

Tyrod Taylor

CARSON, CA - AUGUST 24: Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Los Angeles Chargers avoids Mychal Kendricks #56 of the Seattle Seahawks during a preseason NFL football game at Dignity Health Sports Park on August 24, 2019 in Carson, California. The Seattle Seahawks won 2
John McCoy/Getty Images

He has been forgotten because… Taylor is an unpredictable scrambler who mixes a handful of highlights per game with lots of errant throws and playground-style chaos, so the Bills exiled him in favor of a quarterback they much prefer: Josh Allen.

[Long pause]

Taylor then got roped into the Hue Jackson Experience with the Browns before disappearing behind Rivers on the Chargers bench. Head coach Anthony Lynn has talked up Taylor as a potential Chargers starter, but that sounds suspiciously like an effort to pump up his trade value.

He should be remembered because… There aren't any veteran scramblers on the current market, but there are now lots of offenses tailored to the talents of mobile quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, Cam Newton, Ryan Tannehill, Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson and, er, Josh Allen, with Tua Tagovailoa about to join that group. Taylor could also fit as a changeup reliever who could win a game off the bench for a playoff team with his legs. And Taylor can still provide an occasional Wildcat threat, as he did for the Chargers. After all, he is only 12 months older than Taysom Hill.

  

Colin Kaepernick

You know the story here. Feel free to shout "Argh! Politics!" and compose an angry comment if you like. But Kaepernick is just as good or better than any quarterback on this list. And he's the only one all but guaranteed not to get an opportunity.

          

All salary-cap figures via Over The Cap unless otherwise noted.

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

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