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.
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.