The 2020 quarterback free agent market flaunts veteran passers, future Hall of Famers, and some young quarterbacks looking for better opportunities. While most of these quarterbacks will return to their current teams, there’s the potential for some chaotic quarterback movement this summer.
There are still plenty of other quarterbacks, like Cam Newton, who could move during the 2020 offseason, but this article will focus solely on free agents. The top 12 free agent quarterbacks are ranked based on their current abilities. This measurement doesn’t take in career accomplishments.
While plenty of veteran quarterbacks will hit the market, they will find that the younger quarterbacks are in higher demand. There are head coaches out there who believe they can still mold some of the struggling former high draft picks into Pro Bowlers.
Keep in mind, the franchise tag and team loyalty mean most of these quarterbacks will return to their current teams. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t good fits for them in other positions around the league.
1. Dak Prescott
2019 Team- Dallas Cowboys
2020 Team- Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys are the underachievers of the 2019 season, but Prescott is in the most productive year of his career. Considering all of the quarterback issues teams around the NFL faced this season, Dallas would be crazy to lose Prescott.
However, Jerry Jones not writing Prescott a new check yet makes it less likely the former fourth-round pick will get a record-setting deal this offseason. Jones wants to win games. If the hands-on owner lets his frustration play a role in his decisions, Prescott might face the franchise tag.
2. Ryan Tannehill
2019 Team- Tennessee Titans
2020 Team- Tennessee Titans
When Tannehill chose to become a backup in Tennessee after only playing 11 games with the Miami Dolphins in 2018, he bet on two things. One was that he could prove himself worthy of the starting job. The other was that Marcus Mariota would end up on the bench. Well, Mariota is riding the pine, and Tannehill is 6-1 as Tennessee’s starter.
A lot can change during the final stretch of the season, but Tannehill’s play seems perfect for Tennessee’s offense. Considering all the team has accomplished after a lousy start to the season, it wouldn’t make much sense for the Titans to let Tannehill walk away.
3. Drew Brees
2019 Team- New Orleans Saints
2020 Team- New Orleans Saints
With how invested New Orleans and Brees are in each other, he might as well have never played in San Diego to start his career. The NFL’s all-time leading passer isn’t throwing for as many yards as he used to, but he’s still leading the league in completion percentage this season.
The 40-year-old quarterback has undergone some regression, but the Saints are still one of the best teams in the NFC and Brees is still a Pro Bowler. If both parties are genuinely interested in chasing a Super Bowl, Brees will be back in New Orleans next season.
4. Teddy Bridgewater
2019 Team- New Orleans Saints
2020 Team- Carolina Panthers
After cutting ties with head coach Ron Rivera, the Panthers may move on from Cam Newton as well. Considering the stranglehold the Saints have on the NFC South, it seems like the Panthers are heading for at least a partial rebuild.
Bridgewater, who suffered a devastating knee injury before the 2016 season, underwent a long and tedious recovery process to reach this point. He didn’t see much action with the Saints in 2018, but he started five games in place of the injured Brees this season. Bridgewater averaged a 98.9 passer rating during that time, throwing for nine touchdowns and two interceptions. He’ll have a starting job next season.
5. Jameis Winston
2019 Team- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2020 Team- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The headliners of the 2015 quarterback draft class are stories of unfulfilled potential. Winston is the most turnover-prone quarterback in the NFL, but the Buccaneers haven’t put a good enough offensive line in front of the Florida St. product yet. On a better built team, Winston’s turnovers would drop.
Winston is leading the league with 23 interceptions, but he’s throwing for over 300 yards per game. The Buccaneers can win games with Winston, but not enough to compete for a championship. He’s good enough to win a handful of games a year, but not good enough to make the postseason. It seems like Bruce Arians is reluctant to move away from Winston at this time.
6. Tom Brady
2019 Team- New England Patriots
2020 Team- New England Patriots
New England’s offense is faulty this season, at least compared to other competitive teams. Brady’s 86.5 passer rating is his worst since the 2008 season, when Brady played just one game. At age 42, Brady might finally be in a confrontation with Father Time.
Look, Brady might as well be co-owner of the Patriots. If he wants to play, then Robert Kraft will let him play. Despite the tough year, Brady still has a lot of passion for the game. He will be back on a short, one or two-year deal next season. However, his next contract, if there is a next one, will likely be his last.
7. Philip Rivers
2019 Team- Los Angeles Chargers
2020 Team- Chicago Bears
The Bears underachieved for multiple reasons this season, but Mitchell Trubisky didn’t even look like an NFL quarterback for large stretches of the season. He’s played better recently, but Chicago should recognize he’s not the quarterback of the future. This team still has a solid defense as well, but the offense just can’t support the team.
Of the veteran quarterbacks available, Rivers seems like the most likely to forgo retirement and play for a new team. He’s extremely dedicated to his family and the city of San Diego, not Los Angeles, but the eight-time Pro Bowler still has something left in the tank. He’s struggling in Los Angeles right now, throwing 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, but a change of scenery might help that.
8. Eli Manning
2019 Team- New York Giants
2020 Team- Retirement OR Los Angeles Chargers
Out of all the members of the 2020 quarterback free agent class, Manning or Philip Rivers seem like the most likely veterans who will hang up their cleats. After struggling in the second half against Philadelphia, retirement may be calling Manning to join his brother and father on the couch.
If Manning chooses to forgo retirement, he won’t return to New York. The Giants believe Daniel Jones is their quarterback of the future. At this point, Manning looks like a perfect bridge quarterback, and he could fill a similar role to what Kurt Warner played on the Giants in 2004.
However, a lot of teams will be looking for outright veteran starters this offseason. With Rivers potentially leaving or retiring, the Chargers could use the services of a Super Bowl-winning quarterback.
9. Marcus Mariota
2019 Team- Tennessee Titans
2020 Team- Miami Dolphins OR Los Angeles Chargers
The former Heisman Trophy winner didn’t work out in Tennessee. Now, he’ll have the opportunity to resurrect his career somewhere else. At 3-10, the Dolphins aren’t in play for Joe Burrow. They might land Tua Tagovailoa, but his injury history is concerning and Burrow is the better prospect. With Burrow off of the board and Josh Rosen performing horribly, Miami might take a shot on another young quarterback. Mariota is 26 years old.
Los Angeles, with their 5-8 record, also aren’t in play for Burrow. After a disappointing 2019 season, Philip Rivers might be on his way out in LA. The career Charger might even retire. Considering some of the young pieces the Chargers have, the team doesn’t want to go into full rebuild mode. Mariota would at least provide a stopgap for Los Angeles.
10. Colin Kaepernick
2019 Team- URFA
2020 Team- URFA
After watching Brandon Allen, Luke Falk, Ryan Finley, and Devlin Hodges start multiple games this season, it’s safe to say there’s a potential starting job or high-profile backup spot for Kaepernick in the NFL. However, if a team hasn’t pulled the trigger on a Kaepernick deal after this wild season, it’s unlikely they ever will.
11. Blake Bortles
2019 Team- Los Angeles Rams
2020 Team- Washington Redskins
The former Jacksonville Jaguar signed a one-year deal with the Rams last offseason. In five years with the Jaguars, Bortles produced 17,646 yards, 103 touchdowns, and 75 interceptions. With a veteran starter like Ryan Fitzpatrick posting a similar touchdown to interception ratio and passer rating this season, it’s conceivable Bortles becomes a bridge quarterback in 2020. However, most teams still view him as a quality backup.
12. Case Keenum
2019 Team- Washington Redskins
2020 Team- New York Giants
In 2017, Keenum led the Minnesota Vikings to an 11-3 record as the starter and a 13-3 record overall. That feels like a long time ago. The Denver Broncos rewarded Keenum for his breakout season with a two-year, $36 million contract. He flopped in Denver and is now mentoring Dwayne Haskins in Washington.
While no team is looking at Keenum for a long-term starting position, he’s one of the most established backup quarterbacks in the NFL. Before being benched this season, he was completing 67.0% of his passes and had a 94.8 passer rating.
With Daniel Jones struggling to limit his turnovers in New York and Manning on his way out, it would make sense for the Giants to bring in another veteran to mentor their first-round pick.
Considering how the 2019 season has shaken out, plenty of veteran quarterbacks may find themselves on new rosters next season. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on December 8 that the Carolina Panthers are open to trading Newton for a massive haul.
Just looking around the league, Andy Dalton, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Joe Flacco, or Nick Foles could switch teams if someone is willing to take on their contacts. If the Chicago Bears are smart, they’ll move on from Mitchell Trubisky as well. Miami should do the same with Josh Rosen.
Remember Nick Mullens in San Francisco? He’s an exclusive rights free agent, meaning he’ll almost certainly stay with the 49ers, but I wouldn’t rule out some team looking into acquiring him. Alex Smith’s rehabilitation after a gruesome leg injury could also become a factor in the next year or two. I’d bet Smith doesn’t start in the NFL again, but crazier things have happened.