With the NFL offseason fast approaching and plenty of teams in need of a quarterback, we analyze the potential landscape of the 2021 season.
The NFL offseason hasn’t even officially begun and the league is already buzzing. New head coaching hires have been made, and teams are preparing for the 2021 NFL Draft set to take place on April 29th. But what has really gotten the sports world talking is the multitude of NFL quarterbacks who are suspected or thought to might want to move. Most notably, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, and Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson have made headlines; Rodgers and the Packers falling short of another NFC title, Wentz and second year quarterback Jalen Hurts seemingly at war, and Watson having an ugly public breakup with Houston ownership over head coach hirings and the way the franchise has been run. We already know that Jared Goff and Matt Stafford are switching teams across the country, but that might not be all.
So where might these franchise quarterbacks end up? Nothing has been set in stone, but that’s what makes the NFL offseason so exciting; the speculations. So let us break down some potential landing spots for these quarterbacks who are potentially on the move this offseason:
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
San Francisco 49ers: Better late than never, right? Almost a 49er when he entered the 2005 NFL Draft, Rodgers returning to his home state to finish out a Hall of Fame level career would be poetic. Current 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo hasn’t really panned out, and a team with Rodgers, Brandon Ayuik, Deebo Samuels, and George Kittle would be a real competitor in the NFC West.
Indianapolis Colts: Out with the old, in with the slightly less old? With QB Philip Rivers announcing his retirement, the Colts seem to need a QB. And who better than Aaron Rodgers. With a solid offensive line, a star in the making in RB Jonathan Taylor, and a receiver like T.Y. Hilton, it kind of seems like Rodgers would be in the same system as he is Green Bay. Pair that with a top-3 defense, something he hasn’t had in Green Bay in a while, and Aaron Rodgers might take the 2020 AFC South champions to the AFC Championship.
Green Bay Packers: In all honesty, it feels like Aaron Rodgers is going to retire as a Packer. And why shouldn’t he? He’s beloved in Green Bay, he loves Green Bay, and seeing Rodgers in anything other than green and yellow just doesn’t feel right. If Green Bay fixes it’s defensive woes, and LaFleur and Rodgers can move past the NFC Championship game, it seems like Rodgers will stay at home in Wisconsin.
Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
New York Jets: Let’s keep this simple. The Jets send the 2nd and 23rd overall picks to the Houston Texans, and Houston sends New York a franchise QB in Deshaun Watson. Clean, cut, and dry. The Texans need draft capital, and the jury is still out on if current NYJ QB Sam Darnold can be a franchise QB. It just makes sense.
Miami Dolphins: This one is a bit more complicated than the Jets situation because there is more at play, but feels as realistic. Miami sends the 3rd and 18th overall pick to Houston, and Houston ships Watson off to Miami. Or perhaps Miami sends one of their first round picks paired with QB Tua Tagovailoa to Houston and Deshaun still goes to Miami? Deshaun gets to play for a team that nearly made the playoffs in 2020 and gets the highly underrated Devante Parker in his arsenal, and Houston gets direly needed picks and QB they can develop, with the potential to pick up the next Andre Johnson in DeVonta Smith. Next to the Jets trade, a potential Miami trade feels like the next most-plausible move for Watson.
Jacksonville Jaguars: “You wanna get nuts? Let’s get nuts!” Watson goes down to Duval County and teams up with first-time NFL coach Urban Meyer, and the first overall pick of the 2021 Draft belongs to Houston (translation: Trevor Lawrence will be a Houston Texan). It’s wild to think Houston would send a three-time Pro-Bowl QB to a team in the same division, but Houston has shown in the past they’re apt to making mind-boggling moves (see DeAndre Hopkins in a Cardinals uniform). It might just work though, as Jacksonville has quite an underrated offense with rookie standout James Robinson and young stars like D.J. Chark and Laviska Shenault, and Houston needs someone to replace Watson. It feels a lot less likely to happen, but again, the fun of the offseason is the speculation and imagination.
Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles
Indianapolis Colts: A young QB may be refreshing for the Colts, who just lost Philip Rivers to retirement after they fell short in the Wild Card round of the 2020 Playoffs. A reunion between Frank Reich and Carson Wentz would likely appease both the HC and the QB, and the Colts may be able to send a few picks and a key defensive player like Xavier Rhodes or one of their many star offensive linemen to an Eagles team that struggled in both departments in 2020. If Wentz is on the move, the Colts appear to make the most sense.
New England Patriots: Bill Belichick loves his reconstruction projects, and who better to build back up than Carson Wentz? Wentz struggled with turnovers and in general looked uncomfortable in the pocket all season. While he is still young and early in his career, it looks as if he is already in need of the Belichick treatment. Whether it be a first round pick this year or a combination of late rounders, the Patriots could resolve their QB issues, or at least put a bandage on it, as the Cam Newton experiment seemed to have failed in Foxborough.
Houston Texans: Send Wentz to Texas with a first round pick, and in return Houston sends Deshaun Watson to the City of Brotherly Love. Houston would get the first round pick they desperately need for a rebuild, and Philadelphia gets a more agile Donovan McNabb 2.0. Jalen Hurts could learn under a QB with a similar skill set, and Wentz could potentially get a fresh start with a first round receiver like DeVonta Smith. Worst-case scenario, Wentz is an avid hunter, and what better place to hunt in the offseason than Texas.
While it has yet to be seen where any of these three stars are going to land, it’s quite exciting that this much buzz has occurred before the Super Bowl has even happened. With other players like J.J. Watt, Math Ryan, and Julio Jones potentially on the move as well, one thing is for certain: The NFL is going to look a lot different in 2021.
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