The crown jewel of this year’s free agent class, on the surface it seems crazy to think that Dak Prescott could be wearing another uniform. The Dallas Cowboys desperately need him with no internal replacement and Prescott seems to like Dallas. Yet Prescott, despite coming off a serious injury, is going to break the bank, and will Dallas, with a problematic defense to fix and a team near the upper limit of the salary cap, be the team to pay? Even with quarterbacks from Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson to Derek Carr and Carson Wentz potentially available in trade to varying degrees, Prescott is likely to command $40 to $45 million a year over four to seven years.
Expect teams with lots of cap room and a major need for a quarterback like the Washington Football Team and the Indianapolis Colts to the kick tires on Prescott, with his most likely landing spot being remaining in Dallas. There is also the threat of Dallas applying the franchise tag Prescott for the second consecutive year. However, as the league learned when Washington played this game with Kirk Cousins, the salary associated with a franchise tag compounds each year. A second consecutive franchise tag would likely be an implicit declaration that Prescott will only be in Dallas for this upcoming year. - Tad
Deshaun Watson is probably one of the most sought-after quarterbacks on the market. After a stellar individual season and putting up MVP-caliber numbers with a dismal Houston Texans team, Watson demanded to be traded after the Texans hired general manager Nick Caserio without consulting Watson first. This past September, Watson signed a massive $177.5 million contract, the second-largest contract after Patrick Mahomes’. But despite this, he still wants out of Houston. Following the release of star defensive end J. J. Watt, Watson is willing to go to great lengths to land on another team. But the Texans are adamant about not trading their 25-year-old superstar quarterback.
With each side refusing to cave, what are Watson’s possibilities? He could opt to sit out of training camp, but due to new rules and regulations, he could be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars. He could also opt-out of the 2021 season, but the Texans can withhold his salary. It’s all a matter of who gives in first. If Watson does get a trade, some rumored landing spots are the San Francisco 49ers, the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets. Hopefully, Watson will be able to showcase his talents in an organization that can back him up — a trade seems inevitable. - Cynthia
The NFL seems to have forgotten that Carson Wentz led a Super Bowl-winning Philadelphia Eagles team a mere two years ago as its best player in the regular season. Sure, he had a rough year, and rookie quarterback standout Jalen Hurts made the Eagles better, but Wentz is still comfortably a starting quarterback in the NFL. Teams like Indianapolis, the New England Patriots, Washington, the Denver Broncos and the Chicago Bears consistently find themselves limited in their potential by a range of struggling rookies and declining veteran quarterbacks. Philadelphia would be crazy to expect a Matthew Stafford-like package containing multiple first-round picks because Stafford, unlike Wentz, is a bargain contract at approximately $23 million per year for two years.
However, one first-round pick for Wentz and a sweetener or two second-round picks for Wentz alone is a reasonable expectation for a return package in a trade. Philadelphia has to set realistic expectations and understand that Wentz is likely somewhere between slightly overpaid and moderately overpaid at $35 million per year. At the same time, the rest of the NFL has to understand that Wentz is still a starting quarterback and a worthwhile buy-low candidate to take a chance on for any team needing a quarterback. - Tad
After expressing his discontent with the Seattle Seahawks and their inability to protect him in the pocket, eight-time Pro-Bowler and Super Bowl Champion Russell Wilson could have played his last season with the team that drafted him. Wilson, who has been sacked 394 times throughout his NFL career, spoke about how he wanted to play well into his 40s like Tom Brady, who at age 43, led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl victory. But especially in the NFC West, it’s going to be a difficult task to accomplish without an outstanding offensive line. Having to play against defensive powerhouses like 2019 Defensive Rookie of the Year Nick Bosa and 2020 Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald multiple times per season means that Wilson is going to have a rough time.
The Seahawks received many calls regarding Wilson’s availability, but due to the cap, the Seahawks would have $39 million in dead money if they went through with a trade. The organization would have to be willing to part ways with a proven GOAT of a quarterback, take a huge cap hit and then put their faith in a potentially unproven quarterback. The only way Seattle would go through with trade is if they could get their hands on an insanely talented and promising quarterback, either through a trade or with draft picks. A cheap rookie contract would help take off a bit of the hit, but this is unlikely. Wilson hasn’t asked for a trade yet, so the story continues to develop. - Cynthia
Derek Carr is interesting compared to all of the other players on this list because he’s arguably the one player who isn’t considered elite like Prescott, Watson or Wilson. On the other hand, he is a very good player and a known commodity, unlike Wentz or Winston. Despite playing for numerous “good-not-great” teams over the years, Carr’s stats have consistently flirted with the top 10 among quarterbacks over the years. He has proven that he is a quarterback who can help a team win when surrounded by solid players.
The Raiders wisely appear unlikely to move Carr unless they can land Watson or Prescott, but the usual suspects of Washington, Chicago and Indianapolis — teams that are a quarterback away and vault from fringe contenders to strong playoff threats with a quarterback — should be all over getting Carr out of Vegas even under the expectation that it would likely take around two first-round picks in value to get a deal done. - Tad
The New Orleans Saints:
With the rumored retirement of New Orleans Saints legend Drew Brees, who just played his 20th season in the NFL, the future of the quarterback position in New Orleans is unclear. The backup quarterbacks — 27-year-old Jameis Winston and 30-year-old Taysom Hill — have only seen the field a few times, but they have gained nothing but praise from Saints Coach Sean Payton. Specifically, Winston, a former overall No.1 draft pick, shows incredible promise. Unfortunately, the quarterback market has never been hotter. Last year, he signed a one year, $1.1 million deal to study behind Brees.
As a free agent, this is his opportunity to cash in. Tons of teams are looking for their franchise quarterback and the Saints are at least $70 million over the cap. Therefore, if Winston wanted to, he could test the market and find a better deal that will pay him more. He could also go to another organization where he is the confirmed starter (not have to fight over the position with Hill) and get paid more. Even so, it looks as if the Saints are going to keep both their backups, and regardless of whether Brees returns or retires, the Saints have an 8-1 record with backup quarterbacks over the past two years. They should feel confident in Winston and Hill’s abilities to replace Brees. - Cynthia