A few potential landing spots for free-agent quarterbacks Cam Newton and Jameis Winston were eliminated Thursday when the Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Chargers selected Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa and Oregon's Justin Herbert, respectively.
The question is where the pair of No. 1 overall draft picks might find homes as they look for their second NFL stops.
It's hard to envision Newton as a backup, even if his last two years have been marred by injuries. The 2015 NFL MVP is a dynamite player at his best, one who can put a team on his back.
Winston is a boom-or-bust quarterback who threw 33 touchdowns and 30 interceptions last year. He's more likely to sit behind a starter, as teams could be reluctant to hand over the franchise keys because of his volatility.
A closer look around the league reveals four teams that might be fits. We'll take a look at them below and predict where Newton and Winston will wind up.
Option 1: Pittsburgh Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger is 38 years old and coming off season-ending elbow surgery. His backups are Paxton Lynch, Devlin Hodges and Mason Rudolph, all of whom have struggled.
It's possible Big Ben returns to form and has a few good years left, and it's conceivable that one of the others improves, but the Steelers could be best-served by looking for a more established successor.
Newton won't back up Roethlisberger. He'll look for a home where he can start right away.
Winston is an option in Pittsburgh, but he'll likely want a chance to compete for a starting gig as well. In that respect, the Steelers don't seem like the best choice.
Option 2: Washington Redskins
Washington is an interesting spot for a few reasons. For one, Newton could reunite with his former head coach, Ron Rivera. Together, those two led the Carolina Panthers to a Super Bowl appearance in the 2015 NFL season in addition to three NFC South titles.
Furthermore, it's unclear how much this regime trusts quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who was the team's 15th overall draft pick in 2019, the last year of president Bruce Allen's era.
Rivera is the team's head coach and de facto general manager, so it's possible the new administration wants to go in a different direction.
But it's also conceivable that Washington gives Haskins, who dominated in his final two games after some struggles, more chances to succeed after taking him so highly the year before.
The guess here is the 'Skins see what they have in Haskins for at least one more year before deciding on the position's long-term future.
Option 3: Jacksonville Jaguars
Gardner Minshew II excelled as the Jacksonville Jaguars' signal-caller during his 2019 rookie campaign, throwing 21 touchdown passes (versus six interceptions) at 7.0 yards per pass attempt.
The sixth-round pick wasn't expected to play at all in 2019, but he was thrust into starting duty when Nick Foles suffered a broken collarbone in Week 1. Foles got his job back upon a midseason return, but Minshew won back the job after the veteran struggled.
Minshew showed plenty of promise that he can be the team's long-term signal-caller, but passing on a talent like Newton or Winston (should either be interested) might be too tough. At their best, Newton and Winston are dominating players. Minshew is good in his own right, but his upside is arguably lower than that of Newton and Winston.
Winston seems like a better fit for Jacksonville, which can pit him and Minshew in a training camp battle for the starting role, if only to give the team another potential long-term option. If Minshew wins out, then it's further proof that he's the man to build around.
If it's Winston, then the hope is he starts playing more consistently like the player who tossed 33 touchdown passes rather than the one who chucked 30 picks.
Ultimately, there isn't a perfect landing spot for Winston. Every potential location contains reasons for why he isn't a fit. But Jacksonville seems like the best option from a mixed bag of choices.
Option 4: New England Patriots
The New England Patriots are set to start Jarrett Stidham, who the Pats took in the fourth round of the 2019 draft, to replace six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady.
The issue is that Stidham is an unproven talent who's thrown only three NFL passes during mop-up duty of a Week 3 win over the New York Jets. It's possible Stidham develops into a star, but are the Pats really comfortable with giving him the keys to the franchise?
They apparently are, per a report from Jeff Howe of The Athletic, to the point where he even noted that the team has no interest in Newton or Cincinnati Bengals signal-caller Andy Dalton, who should be looking for a new home after his team picked up LSU's Joe Burrow in the 2020 draft.
"At this point, a source has said the Patriots have expressed no interest in signing Cam Newton or trading for Andy Dalton — the two most popular speculated moves — nor do they have the cap space to make such a transaction.
"So it'll be Stidham. It'd hardly be a surprise if they open camp with Hoyer as the starter and force Stidham to wrest away the job, but a dose of adversity should help the kid if that's the route they choose. Either way, as long as Stidham maintains his pace from last summer, it should be his job."
Still, a Newton-Patriots pairing makes too much sense. The Pats would get a rejuvenated, healthy Newton who's been rehabbing from his injuries for over half a year. Plus, Newton has something to prove after the Panthers released him, so he'll be motivated to return to his former perch as one of the game's best quarterbacks.
Michael Hurley of CBS Boston threw out the idea of the Pats landing Newton after the team didn't take a first-round quarterback.
Like Winston, there isn't a perfect place for Newton to work. And like Winston once again, the choice for Newton is simply the best of some decent-at-best options. But by process of elimination, the spot for Newton could be New England.