Though he was never technically a free agent, Tony Romo was supposed to be the biggest prize on the 2017 market. The 39-year-old was destined to become a Bronco or Texan this offseason, boosting one’s odds to win Super Bowl LII. But that’s not how it all played out.
Instead, the only thing Romo will be “boosting” is Phil Simms’ job, choosing to become the lead analyst for CBS and forfeiting his chance to win this year’s Super Bowl. (He won’t get to call the game, either, since NBC has the rights.)
The now-retired Cowboy was not the only former starting QB on the open market. But he was the cutest boy at the dance, and the other eligibles needed Romo to be swept up before the girls would look their way. Unfortunately for the likes of Jay Cutler, the falling of the Romo domino didn’t cause any others to topple. It looks like the ladies may rather go home and watch Friday Night Lights re-runs than settle for a guy who can’t even two-step.
What does this mean for the pivots still waiting on a new home? Will Houston stick with Tom Savage? Is Brock Osweiler a legitimate contender in the Browns’ QB “battle”? We’ve got odds on all things quarterback-ish.
Free Agent QB Odds
Once the Bears released Cutler, it was believed there were a few options for Chicago’s all-time leading passer. The Jets, 49ers, and Texans all desperately needed someone who resembled a quarterback. However, the Jets signed Josh McCown while the 49ers went with Brian Hoyer, both of whom served time as Cutler’s backup in Chicago.
All that was left for Cutler was to wait and see whether Houston could land Tony Romo. Now Romo has decided to migrate from the field to the booth, yet Jay isn’t donning blue and red. Why not?
Houston has the cap space to workout a deal with Cutler, but sources are suggesting the team doesn’t see him as a fit. As time goes by, it seems more and more likely the Texans are actually going to move forward with Tom Savage, and potentially draft their future QB later this month.
It’s highly unlikely Cutler will sign on somewhere as a backup, and the only other starting option would be Cleveland, if they’d have him. We may be seeing a lot more of this Jay Cutler in the near future.
Odds on Jay Cutler’s 2017 team
Houston Texans: 3/1
The President can say whatever he wants — a right he may be exercising too freely — but Kaepernick’s current unemployment is not strictly a result of his peaceful protest last season. Is it a factor? Of course. But it’s secondary to the fact that coaches are unsure of what they’d be getting with the 29-year-old.
Kaepernick has displayed a lack of touch and finesse when throwing the football, and certainly is not your typical pocket passer. Jim Harbaugh was able to get the most out of him when he designed an offense around Kaepernick’s legs. It resulted in the 49ers falling one play short of winning a Super Bowl. But Kaep is not the runner he used to be.
The anthem controversy, plus the hot sack of crap that was the 49ers’ 2016 season, overshadow the fact that Kaepernick actually performed alright (90.7 passer rating) in Chip Kelly’s system, even with minimal talent at receiver.
No team is going to look at the former 49er as a starter, and it would be in his best interest to find a system that suits his skill-set. The Buffalo Bills make a lot of sense, as Tyrod Taylor is a very similar QB. Hue Jackson may want to add to his band of projects under center in Cleveland, and Houston could decide to bring in a cheap veteran option, too. Eventually, a team will bite.
Odds on Colin Kaepernick’s 2017 team
Buffalo Bills: 5/1
Cleveland Browns: 9/1
Houston Texans: 12/1
Saying last season didn’t go well for Fitzpatrick is the equivalent of saying the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl didn’t go well for the Falcons. They were both disastrous! In 14 games (11 starts), Fitzy threw 17 interceptions and posted a 69.6 passer rating. For clarity on how bad that is, Blake Bortles only threw 16 picks, and Brock Osweiler had a 72.2 passer rating.
There’s no way Fitzpatrick is getting another opportunity to start, but he can be a valuable veteran backup. Teams who are grooming a younger QB may covet Fitz’s intelligence and experience. He could prove to be a great mentor on the sidelines and in the film room.
As mentioned, I see the Texans bringing in a cheap veteran option to serve as insurance for the oft-injured Savage and/or a rookie that may not be ready to step in. Now that Romo is officially off the Cowboys roster, Jerry Jones should be looking for a more reliable option than Kellen Moore to backup Dak Prescott.
Odds on Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 2017 team
Houston Texans: 7/2
Dallas Cowboys: 4/1
Robert Griffin III
Since winning Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2012, Griffin has done very little to prove he belongs in the league. In the three seasons that followed, the Baylor product has thrown 22 TDs to 21 INTs and has a passer rating of 81.7. This has resulted in teams choosing guys like Aaron Murray, Matt Barkley, and Geno Smith over him.
Griffin will need to show that he is still capable of what he accomplished in 2012, but he would be brought in as a project, not a backup to be relied upon.
This is the kind of sexy move that has made Jerry Jones one of the most polarizing figures in the game. A return to Texas could be the last stop on what has been a roller coaster of a career for Griffin. I don’t believe the other Texas team would be willing to bring him in, though.
With Ben Roethlisberger nearing retirement, and no future option at the position in sight, the Steelers may be willing to give Griffin a season to see what’s left in the tank. The Bucs could also be in the market, considering Mike Glennon is now a Bear. But the end of RG3’s NFL career is well within sight.
Odds on RG3’s 2017 team
Dallas Cowboys: 6/1
Pittsburgh Steelers: 9/1
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 9/1
Houston Texans: 19/1
Odds Cutler, Kaepernick, Fitzpatrick, or RG3 wins SBLII as a starter: 9/1
[cricket … cricket …]
Odds to start for the Texans Week 1
Tom Savage: 7/5
Jay Cutler: 3/1
A rookie: 8/1
Brandon Weeden: 11/1
Jimmy Garoppolo: 12/1
Colin Kaepernick: 19/1
The Texans cannot afford to continue wasting this loaded roster with an incompetent QB at the helm. Yes, ridding themselves of Osweiler should be viewed as addition by subtraction, but they need to use that cap relief to bring in a viable signal-caller.
Tom Savage wasn’t a whole lot better than Osweiler last year, and they can’t expect a rookie from this class to be their savior in Week 1. For their sake, I really hope Brandon Weeden isn’t actually in the running. Missing out on Romo really hurts, but Cutler would still be an upgrade.
And I have to feel the Texans learned their lesson about investing heavily in a guy who has thrived in a very small sample size.
Odds to start for the Broncos Week 1
Trevor Siemian: 3/4
Paxton Lynch: 11/8
Apparently John Elway wasn’t bluffing about being confident in the two QBs already on his roster. Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch will now spend the offseason auditioning for the Broncos’ starting gig.
Though Lynch is the popular pick, since Denver moved up in the 2016 draft to get him, I still see him needing some time to perfect the finer details of quarterbacking. In two starts last season, Lynch showed hesitancy with the football and poor footwork.
After playing through injury behind a horrid line, Siemian won over a lot of players in the locker room. His ceiling may not be as high as Lynch’s, but he is the better field general right now.
Odds to start for the Browns Week 1
Cody Kessler: 3/7
Brock Osweiler: 9/1
Jimmy Garoppolo: 11/1
A rookie: 17/1
Colin Kaepernick: 24/1
Though he didn’t win a game in eight starts, Cody Kessler actually had a pretty good season. That equates to one hell of a year when you compare him to previous rookie QBs to suit up for the Browns. His 92.3 passer rating is more than enough reason for Hue Jackson to give him a second opportunity.
The Browns are right to give Brock Osweiler an opportunity to compete for the starting job. I just doubt anyone in the organization believes Osweiler will do anything with the opportunity.
With all the tantalizing non-QB talent that will still be on the board come the 12th overall pick, Cleveland would be best to pass on a quarterback in the draft. This includes resisting the urge to trade that pick for Patriot backup Jimmy Garoppolo. Even if they do draft a pivot, Jackson won’t throw him into the fire right away, unless he has to.
Odds to start for the Jets Week 1
Josh McCown: 3/2
Christian Hackenberg: 7/3
Bryce Petty: 3/1
A rookie: 33/1
No one is questioning who the best QB is on the Jets roster. But is starting McCown the best thing for this franchise? He’s not the future, and there wouldn’t be any benefit from winning, say, five games instead of three.
The Jets got a good look at Bryce Petty last season, and should be aware he’s not the future, either. Then there’s the guy they reached for in the second-round of the 2016 Draft, who didn’t see a single regular-season snap last year: Christian Hackenberg. He was awful in preseason, but has had a full year to rewrite his mechanics. New York needs find out what they have in Hackenberg, but I just don’t see them turning the team over to the raw slinger in Week 1.
I expect the Jets to address one of the many non-QB holes they have on their roster early in the draft, so when they do draft a QB, it will likely be another project.
(Photo Credit: Mike Morbeck (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/])