Top 8 QBs set to hit free agency

Senior Analyst Steve Palazzolo takes a look at the best free agent quarterbacks set to hit the market.

| 7 months ago
(Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

(Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

Top 8 QBs set to hit free agency


The quarterback position is rarely one that sees elite players bounce around in free agency, but there are usually starters to be had on the market.

Here’s a look at the top QBs currently set to hit free agency this week:

(Editor’s note: This article was updated on March 7, 2016.)

1. Ryan Fitzpatrick

Always one of the more underrated quarterbacks in the league, Fitzpatrick had his ups and downs as a passer in 2015, but he made a number of big throws as the signal caller for the New York Jets. While he got away with risky throws throughout the year, he brought out the best in wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker on the outside, allowing them to make plays in the passing game. Fitzpatrick also proved to be an efficient and timely scrambler, finishing with a run grade of 92.6 that ranked fourth among quarterbacks. There’s always been some risk/reward to Fitzpatrick’s game, but he’s not afraid to take chances down the field (fifth-highest percentage of deep pass attempts, at 15.3 percent) and that fearlessness proved valuable for the Jets in 2015. Fitzpatrick will rightfully be a starting quarterback in the league in 2016.

2. Brock Osweiler

The sample size is small for Osweiler, who took the reins of the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos’ offense for the better part of eight games, and showed well at times during his run. The problem was his consistency, whether week-to-week, or sometimes, even half-to-half. Osweiler tendency to run hot and cold at various times is something that he needs to tie up if given a long-term deal, but there are few other options for the Broncos, and he is the likely heir apparent to Peyton Manning. The price will be high for Osweiler, as it always is for starting quarterbacks, but he’s been groomed for this opportunity, and there were enough high points (positive grades in five of eight games) that show he’s worth building around.

3. Robert Griffin III

While Griffin’s best year feels like a distant memory, that 2012 campaign was one of the best by a rookie in the history of the NFL. It’s been a steep decline since that point, and while getting him back to glory may be far-fetched, the thought of reclaiming that status is enough for a team to bring him into their quarterback competition. Griffin has a valuable skill-set as an athletic QB with deep-passing accuracy, both traits that must be used in order to maximize his value. If a team is willing to give him a fresh start and build the offense to tailor to his abilities, Griffin has more upside than any quarterback on the market.

4. Matt Moore

The eternal backup, Moore last saw extended action in 2011 when he graded at +16.2. He’s only seen 45 snaps of action since that point, but his 2011 is one of the better seasons we’ve seen from any potential backup QB on this list.

5. Tarvaris Jackson

Seemingly a regular on this list, Jackson is a solid backup quarterback, though he’s played only 75 snaps since 2011. He graded well that season at +7.6 overall (0.0 is average within cumulative grading) and he can be a dependable player if called upon as a backup.

6. Brandon Weeden

The drop-off is steep after the top four, and Weeden’s inclusion epitomizes this. He’s gone from being overdraft in the first round to searching for backup duty, and he’s not the worst option in that role. He has the arm to drive the ball downfield (+2.3 on deep passes), so in limited work, Weeden has the ability to make the plays necessary to win games in the short term.

7. Matt Hasselbeck

Even at the age of 40, we saw that Hasselbeck is capable of keeping an offense afloat in short bursts, taking advantage of his experience and a quick release to get the job done.

8. Kellen Moore

The lack of stature and arm strength is obvious, but Moore has enough pocket presence and anticipation to make him an interesting backup option. He put together two solid outings late in the season in his only two starts, and while that may be his upside, taking a chance on his quarterbacking talent versus the size and arm strength that often gets the opportunity is likely a worthwhile one.

| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

  • zinn21 zinn21

    Osweiler with the most upside but I doubt Denver is going to let him go.

    • Golbalview

      Unless they are dumb enough to pick up Kaepernick and save cap space on a BUQB. My guess is they hold with Osweiler.

  • LostAlone

    What does anyone think about Weeden going to the Steelers? Gradkowski and Jones (and Vick) clearly aren’t anything close to trustworthy backups and Ben always seems to pick up injuries so a good backup genuinely can make or break their season. Weeden isn’t amazing but he can throw downfield so fits into their style of offense and just having someone who offers literally anything in the pass game ensures opponents can’t stack the box every play which would allow the run game to keep working.

    It’s hard to imagine anyone would want Weeden to start, even in today’s NFL (unless Cleveland want him back) so if the Steelers should be able to get him. Am I over thinking this or does this fit?

    • Tim Edell

      I highly doubt Weeden is back with the Texans. Assuming they re-sign Hoyer I thnk they will go into the season with either TJ Yates/Tom Savage as the backup and draft Hackenburg in the 2nd round to be their 3rd stringer.

    • bobrulz

      I can see that, for sure. The Steelers seem to prefer veteran backups.

  • SeattleSteve

    If I were a QB needy team, I’d take Scott Tolzien over Kellen Moore and Matt Hasselbeck, stronger arm.

    • BuckyBadger

      I would take him over Brock as well. Osweiler has a great arm but everything else isn’t looking the part for him.

      • bobrulz

        You’re basing that off of 7 games in a frankly unimaginative and predictable offense?

        • BuckyBadger

          I am basing it on watching him play. Whatever the offense is his mechanics in the pocket are awful. The fact he can’t move his feet has nothing to do with the play call or the offense. When rushed he moved straight back and would end up giving up 5 or 10 more yards. There was a reason he was replaced by a QB that was turning the ball over and can’t pass the ball more than 10yds. He couldn’t produce on offense either.

          He isn’t a rookie but a guy in his 4th year. He has had time to work on his fundamentals. Had he just had decision making and audible problems I would say he could be the guy of the future but the fact his fundamentals are lacking, I would say he isn’t the future and I would have an insurance policy in place so you don’t wast this defense. I wouldn’t go into the season with just Brock when I have an all time great defense.

          • bobrulz

            I agree that they need an option besides Brock, but the best way to fix mechanical issues is for them to play. I don’t know if Brock is a franchise QB, but I think he deserves a chance to lead this team and see if he can be. 7 games is not enough to lead. And Brock was benched because Peyton is Peyton, and Kubiak thought he deserved a chance to lead the team to another Super Bowl in what is almost certainly his twilight, and to evaluate his health. And because he thought the experience would prove to be more worthwhile in the playoffs. Let’s not pretend Brock was benched because Peyton was actually playing better. He was simply along for the ride in the playoffs.

          • BuckyBadger

            Brock was benched because he wasn’t getting the job done. It wasn’t for sentimental reasons like the public and media want to think, it was to go with the best player to win the remaining games. If Brock was moving the ball vs a very bad San Diego Defense Manning never gets back on the field.

            I don’t throw away a championship defense on anyone. A QB fixes his mechanics and fundamentals in practice. That is what worries me about Brock as he isn’t a rookie. Game experience improves your decision making but if you don’t have the fundamentals going out, you aren’t picking them up Sunday’s during live game play. Everything moves to fast for that. When Rodgers first started he needed some game experience to improve but his fundamentals where flawless. I don’t expect any QB to be like that but Brock IMO has too much to work on to be good before this defense gets old.

          • bobrulz

            Nah man, it was sentimental reasons, and because Peyton’s previous playoff experience was seen as a plus.

            Denver won the Super Bowl in spite of Peyton. He was horrible in the playoffs and the Super Bowl. No conventional or advanced statistics had Peyton as the better player in 2015.

    • Fanalytics

      That is not even close to a being close to being close to as important as accuracy or poise, Peyton Manning in 2013 had one of the greatest seasons a QB has ever had with as weak of an arm as anyone’s ever had.

      • Barn Cat

        He was the 40th ranked passer last year. He should retire.

  • The Mysteries of Bob

    All QBs in the top four would probably rank as the #1 free agent QB every year since 2013.

    At least benching Osweiler gave Denver some leverage, imagine if he is the starter in a Super Bowl champion, they shouldn’t pay him more than Brian Hoyer money. A contract like Foles’ would already be a massive overpay.

  • Helping Out

    Kellen Moore is a FA in 2017.

  • Henne Given Sunday

    While he isn’t good, Chad Henne is also a FA

    • Barn Cat

      I didn’t know he was still in the league.

  • willie millz

    im not a jets fan but i hope fitz stays with the jets its a nice fit and fitz won me alot of money this year so hes my guy

  • Doc Bear

    Oseweiler isn’t going anywhere. He would have cost more if he’d won the SB, but he showed a lot of potential – including beating GB, NE and CIN – that suggest he’ll continue to improve with playing time.

    • Izach

      I actually think they’ll go elsewhere with Brock maybe keep him to bridge cap but he isn’t the answer, and hats saying a lot considering he Broncos just proved you don’t even need good QB play with a defense as good as theirs.

    • J

      Osweiler didn’t beat GB.

  • bobrulz

    No Chase Daniel? I know there’s not much of a sample size to go off of, but he played well in the 2 starts he did have, and he’s looked excellent in the preseason. Some team is going to give him a chance to compete, and he could surprise.

    • Grilles

      Wouldn’t shock me to see him go to the Eagles (provided Pederson actually liked what he saw.)

    • http://iKillRats.com/ Charlie Kelly

      tru. but he hasnt started many games… but i like him.

  • David Stinnett

    While I can see Hasselbeck’s lower placement due to age, I would take him on a one year deal over several of the guys above him

  • Binny

    Am I missing something here? How come no one is talking about RG3 in any of these articles. I know he is under contract but redskins are not bringing him back.

    • Reid

      You’re not missing anything. This is a list of top “Free Agent” QB’s. Not “QB’s teams aren’t bringing back”

      • Binny

        Article says “set to hit free agency”. If he is not brought back (which everyone knows he won’t) he would be a……free agent. And there have been plenty of articles on potential free agent QB but RG3 is never mentioned.

        • Johnny Rotten

          Because they’re not looking at players who are projected to get cut. Just those who are free agents because their contracts are up.

        • http://iKillRats.com/ Charlie Kelly

          but he isnt a FA right now

    • Grilles

      Not at all. III & XIII has played himself out of the top 9 of this group. His dad sticking his nose in the locker room likely didn’t help his cause.

    • Jake

      He is #3 on this list

  • capitol76

    Case Keenum beats Seattle in Seattle, throws for a near perfect quarterback rating vs. Tampa Bay and doesn’t even make a list that includes Brandon Weeden, Tavaris Jackson and Kellen Moore?

    • Grilles

      His sample is too small

      • bobrulz

        Kellen Moore started 2 games and Jackson and Moore haven’t started any games in several years and are both on the wrong side of 30.

    • http://iKillRats.com/ Charlie Kelly

      its because he sucks.

      id actually rate nick foles over him lol

  • Lane Trujillo

    How is Tavaris Jackson at #5? He has been in this league for 10 years. He hasn’t developed into anything but a mediocre backup. Same with Hassellbeck. Neither of those guys are anything but some backup depth.