Predicting the 2021 QB Carousel

By Saransh Sharma, Rohan Krishnan, & Pranav Thiriveedhi

The 2021 NFL offseason has produced some of the craziest storylines and rumors we have ever seen, with quarterbacks like Deshaun Watson requesting a trade and Russell Wilson frustrated with Seattle and seeking options out. To sum it all up, many of these rumors are smokescreens and very far-fetched, but to not talk about them would be ludicrous. Here are our predictions for where 9 of the most notable quarterbacks, all of whom are free agents or have trade rumors revolving around them. 

Saransh’s QB Carousel Predictions

Dak Prescott, Current Team: Dallas Cowboys

Dak Prescott has been the franchise cornerstone for the Dallas Cowboys for the past 5 seasons, and he has progressively improved, and last season, despite just 5 games, he put himself in elite company, throwing for 1,856 passing yards (371.2 passing yards/game) in those 5 games, including 3 consecutive games of 450+ passing yards (502 against Cleveland). Overall in his career, he has a 42-27-0 record and is one of the winningest quarterbacks in all of football currently (by win percentage). The fact that a player with his resume has yet to receive the long-term contract extension that he deserves is just a long list of failures for Jerry Jones since the Super Bowl glory days of ‘96. Prescott is demanding around $38M-$40M per year on a 4-year deal, but the Cowboys want to sign him for 5 years and pay him around $33M per year, or even put the dreaded franchise tag of $37.7M for the second consecutive season, which would force multiple players on the roster to restructure their contracts or have to be released. If the Cowboys would want to give Dak the ‘Kirk Cousins treatment’ and place the tag on him season-after-season, Dak, like Kirk, will surely walk, and if a quarterback of that caliber hits the open market, Dallas can kiss their chances of keeping Dak goodbye. Prediction: Dak gets franchise-tagged & walks next offseason.

Mitch Trubisky, Previous Team: Chicago Bears, Currently: Free Agent

Mitch Trubisky is one of the most interesting stories in the NFL. The Chicago Bears traded multiple picks to go from the 3rd pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, up to the 2nd pick, to take Mitch Trubisky over Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes. This move did not work, but the move did not look so bad at one point. In his second season, Trubisky led the Bears to a 12-4 record and was a Pro Bowler. The season following, Trubisky led the Bears to be just a game short of another playoff trip, and in 2020, the Bears made the playoffs as Trubisky went 6-3 in the 9 games he played (was benched for Nick Foles and then was injured, however). The problem for Trubisky has not been winning, but more so his inability to show any consistency and also struggling around great pieces around him and a great defense year-after-year. The issue is that his mediocrity has carried over to the team and put them down, leaving Chicago with zero interest in wanting to bring him back, and much of the NFL viewing him as a backup, as he should be viewed. Teams like Carolina, San Francisco, and New England are very much in the mix in terms of teams that need a serviceable backup who can start a few games while the team figures out their QB situation. We have heard rumors of Teddy Bridgewater and Jimmy Garoppolo either being traded or getting some QB competition, and New England potentially drafting a QB or re-signing Cam Newton and bringing in QB competition. No matter where he goes, Trubisky will most likely be in the mix for the starting QB spot, but he will not be viewed by any team as a starting option. Prediction: 49ers sign Trubisky on a 2-year deal, have Jimmy G compete with him for starting QB spot.

Marcus Mariota, Current Team: Las Vegas Raiders

Marcus Mariota is in a very interesting situation. He was benched 2 seasons ago by the Titans after his first three seasons were rather successful, being named a Pro Bowler in 2016 & making the playoffs, and winning a playoff game in 2017. But Mariota’s downfall in 2018 saw him become a backup in 2019 after Week 6, and his only action since has included the 2019 regular-season finale, one snap in the AFC Championship Game against Kansas City, and a game with the Raiders in 2020 where he replaced an injured Derek Carr and threw for 228 yards & 2 TDs in a 30-27 OT loss to the Chargers. Mariota proved that day that he can still be a good NFL quarterback and rekindle his magic from the start of his career. That being said, his current contract is driving teams away from wanting him, and Derek Carr’s consistent improvement and leadership will keep him as the long-term Raiders quarterback. Mariota could be released according to multitudes of reports, which would result in a much cheaper and lower-risk contract for teams interested in him, such as Washington, Philadelphia, & New England. Prediction: Mariota becomes the long-term QB answer In Washington, signing a team-friendly 3-year deal.

Pranav’s QB Carousel Predictions

Taysom Hill, Current Team: New Orleans Saints

Taysom Hill is one of the craziest quarterbacks in the NFL, and probably one of the weirdest players in NFL history, in terms of what position they play. Like really, what the heck does Taysom Hill even play? In terms of position, he’s a quarterback, tight end, wide receiver, full back, running back, return specialist, and punt blocker. If you could make a player that could play every position in the NFL, Taysom Hill would be your guy. As a member of the Saints, Taysom helped Drew Brees as a wide receiver most of the time, but the guy has a heck of an arm. And with the retiring of Brees inevitable, who’s going to get the job? Taysom or Winston? Taysom Hill hasn’t shown us flashes of being a franchise quarterback, especially since he’s already pretty old at 31. If Taysom decides to be a full-fledged quarterback still, I can see him riding the bench back in New Orleans, under a probably one or two-year deal. But if anything, it would have to be small of a deal, considering the Saint’s cap situation. But Taysom’s dream is to play under center, so I can see him signing with the Atlanta Falcons on a test ride contract if the Falcons decide to move on from Matt Ryan and draft a quarterback in the first round. Prediction: Taysom Hill will be in the QB competition for a starting job in Atlanta for the next season.

Jameis Winston, Current Team: New Orleans Saints

Jameis Winston is the other moving part of the New Orleans Saints. The current backup to Drew Brees and even Taysom Hill is not like any other ordinary third-string bench warmer. Two years ago in Tampa Bay, before the entry of Tom Brady, Jameis Winston added 5000 yards and 30 touchdowns to his NFL resume but negatively added 30 interceptions as well. Winston is a rough-around quarterback who makes hasty decisions but is overall a diamond in the rough if played in a promising situation. Given a good offensive line, and a plethora of absolute brilliant wideouts, Jameis Winston can truly shine, as he did for Florida State many years ago. Winston was also playing on a very cheap contract for the Saints, and even though he sat all year long, picking a similar contract would suit beneficial for both the Saints organization, who are again deep in cap overflow and Jameis Winston, who deserves the restart on his career. Prediction: Jameis Winston will sign a 2-year deal to prove himself as the Saints’ long-term QB.

Russell Wilson, Current Team: Seattle Seahawks

Adding to the huge quarterback crazy moves is Russell Wilson, a proficient quarterback who is well known as the most liked player in the NFL. Russell Wilson is also one of the best quarterbacks in the league, who led the Seahawks to 2 Super Bowl appearances, including a win against the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning. All that aside, Wilson and the Seahawks are in some sort of grudge match, due to the offensive line struggles and the fact that the Seattle front office is careless to hear what Wilson has to say. If Wilson is to leave the Seahawks, it would most probably be on a trade, which is because of his three years left on his contract. Earlier last week, Wilson told his agent that he desires to stay on the Seahawks but if trade breaks through, he only had four teams on his mind: Dallas, Las Vegas, Chicago, or New Orleans. We can already rule out New Orleans (they can’t afford him) and Dallas (Dak is the situation to deal with), so we are left with Chicago and Las Vegas, who are both looking to get a replacement at quarterback. If I see Russell Wilson leaving Seattle, it would probably be to the Las Vegas Raiders, who seem to be the only team that has a Wilson-like offense and have money to contribute to a hefty contract. Prediction: In 2022, we see Russell Wilson don the Silver & Black in Vegas

Rohan’s QB Carousel Predictions

Derek Carr, Current Team: Oakland Raiders

Derek Carr arguably had the best season of his career in 2020 despite the team going 8-8. In 16 games, Carr completed 67.3% of his passes for 4,103 yards, 27 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. He is in the top half of the league at his position, and if the Raiders gave him a decent defense, they would easily be a playoff team. A recent report from Ian Rapoport said that several teams have called the Raiders about Derek Carr, however, the Raiders aren’t looking to trade Carr right now. He has improved in each of his 3 years with head coach Jon Gruden, throwing for 4,000+ yards in each and registering a 100-plus passer rating in back-to-back years. They also have a powerful bond, and it’s hard for me to see Carr being traded this offseason. Carr is also on a very team-friendly deal, averaging $19.5 million over the next 2 years. Prediction: Derek Carr will remain the Raiders starting quarterback in 2021.

Deshaun Watson, Current Team: Houston Texans

Houston is a huge mess and they are on the verge of losing their franchise star quarterback. It was a string of unpopular moves that led to this situation, from trading All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins for peanuts to keeping around heavily criticized executive Jack Easterby. Deshaun Watson requested a trade back in late January and to this day remains unhappy with no plans to play for the Houston Texans ever again. Watson just signed a lucrative 5-year contract extension last offseason so his only leverage right now is to sit out games. They can play hardball with Watson and wait until the regular season to see if he sits out games and that is what I think they are going to do. According to Ian Rapoport, the Texans do not plan on trading Deshaun Watson for a long, long time and if Watson decides to skip 2021, he would spark a total financial loss of roughly $20 million. Also, I think new GM Nick Caserio is operating on a much longer timeline and is perfectly fine with Deshaun sitting out. I don’t see Watson’s value changing much if he does sit out a year and this upcoming season is a lost one for Houston anyways. Prediction: Houston plays the long-game, wait until 2022 to trade Watson.

Sam Darnold, Current Team: New York Jets

Sam Darnold was the 3rd overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, but he has not lived up to the hype. Most of that blame can be put on the Jets as they have done the least to help out their quarterback, but Darnold has also had his fair share of mistakes. His decision-making and processing have raised lots of questions and he is near the NFL bottom in several areas including passer rating and QBR. However, Sam Darnold is still salvageable and young at 23 and could improve with a change of scenery. The Jets hold the 2nd overall pick in this year’s draft and have the chance to pick up a terrific QB prospect like Zach Wilson or Justin Fields. Multiple teams have reached out to the Jets and inquired about trading for Sam Darnold, and it is the right move for New York to deal with him. I think possible landing spots for Sam include the Steelers, Bears, 49ers, and Washington Football Team. Let’s talk about Pittsburgh which is where I think Sam is headed. Ben Roethlisberger’s time is quickly coming to an end and they need a new quarterback to build around. Striking a deal for Darnold would make a lot of sense for Mike Tomlin and his crew as Darnold can develop behind Big Ben. Prediction: The Steelers send a 2021 4th-rounder and 2022 2nd-rounder for Sam Darnold.

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