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NFL free agency 2017: A look at the quarterbacks

The San Francisco 49ers will have a host of cap space to spend on free agents this offseason. We are going to break down five notable positions.

I have spent a month and a half going over possible NFL free agents team by team. Now I am going to list them by position starting with quarterback. We will begin by going over our biggest positions of need: Quarterback, wide receiver, defensive tackle, outside linebacker and inside linebacker. If there is enough interest at that point we will include safety and offensive line.

The 2017 free agent quarterbacks are a pretty unimpressive group. I have chosen seven of them to add a little bit of extra information and some of those seven were chosen just because they had previously worked with Kyle Shanahan. I don’t know if I necessarily picked the best seven players of this year’s free agent class but none of the candidates other than Cousins really seemed to stand out.

Dollar figures listed are player’s 2016 cap hits.

QB Kirk Cousins - $19,953,000 – Washington

Age 28
Ht. 6’3
Wt. 210

Kirk Cousins was drafted by Washington in the fourth round of the same 2012 draft that they drafted RG3 with the second pick of the draft. Cousins played in three games that year completing 33 of 48 attempts for 466 yards and a 68.8 percent completion rate. He played in five games in 2013 and completed 81 of 155 passes for only a 52.3 percent completion rate and 855 yards. I think it is important to note that Kyle Shanahan was the offensive coordinator both years.

Cousins then played in six games under new offensive coordinator Sean McVay in 2014 completing 126 of 204 passes for 1,710 yards and a 61.8 percent completion rate. You can start to see a pattern here.

In 2015, Cousins came out of RG3’s shadow to become the starter for all 16 games. He completed 379 of 543 passes for whopping 4,166 yards and NFL leading 69.8 percent completion rate. He passed for 29 touchdowns that season with only 11 interceptions and a quarterback rating of 101.6.

Kirk Cousins had another fine year in 2016 completing 406 of 606 passes for 4,917 yards and a 67 percent completion rate. At 97.2 his quarterback rating was down a bit from the 101.6 he posted in 2015. It was probably the result of only throwing 25 touchdowns with 12 interceptions. Cousins really seemed to flourish under the guidance of Sean McVay. It is worth noting that McVay worked under Shanahan the first two seasons but it was as a tight ends coach.

Between his having history with Kyle Shanahan and his production the past two years, he would definitely be worth getting. However, Washington would have to be completely out of their minds to let him go even in exchange for the No. 2 pick in the draft since there just doesn’t appear to be any clear replacements. Washington can place the franchise tag on Cousins again starting this Wednesday and it is almost certain they will.

QB Brian Hoyer - $2,000,000 – Bears

Age 31
Ht. 6’2
Wt. 215

Brian Hoyer in spite of being invited to the NFL combine, was not chosen in the 2009 draft. He was picked up as an undrafted free agent by the Patriots where he backed up Tom Brady and saw very little action before being released by them in August of 2012. He remained unemployed until November when the Steelers signed him as a back up after Ben Roethlisberger was injured. It was a short stay and he was once again released in December.

He was then claimed off of waivers by the Cardinals where he actually started the final game against our 49ers.He was released again in May of 2013 and signed with Cleveland where he started three games that year.

He started 13 games with Cleveland in 2014 while having Kyle Shanahan as his offensive coordinator. He completed 242 of 438 passes that year for a 55.3 percent completion rate and 3,326 yards.

Cleveland did not attempt to extend Hoyer’s contract and he signed with the Texan in March of 2015. Hoyer started nine games for Houston in 2015 and ended up with a 60.7 percent completion rate.

He was once again released by the Texans in April of 2016 and signed with the Bears where he played in six games before breaking his arm.

Being 31 years old is not the end of the world for the quarterback position. I just wonder how he would do if he were given the starting job for a team where he had the same offensive coordinator for more than one year? Being tossed around the league, having a new offensive coordinator and learning a new system every year can’t be the greatest way for a quarterback to showcase his abilities. I definitely would consider him to be high on my prospect list. Who knows? He might be able to thrive under an offensive master such a Kyle Shanahan and Hoyer already has some experience playing for him.

QB Mike Glennon - $1,830,375 – Bucs

Age 27
Ht. 6’6
Wt. 225

Mike Glennon was drafted by the Bucs in the third round of the 2013 draft. Glennon has a completion percentage over his first four years in the NFL of 59.4 percent and a quarterback rating of 84.6. He is 5-13 as a starting quarterback.

Mike Glennon was drafted by Mark Dominik, then general manager of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Glennon replaced Josh Freeman as the starting quarterback in 2013 after the Bucs lost their first three games of the season and continued to start the last 13 games of the season. He led a very bad Bucs team to a 4-12 record completing 247 of 416 passes for a 59.4 percent completion rate and an 83.9 quarterback rating. He had 19 touchdowns with only nine interceptions that season.

Lovie Smith brought in Josh McCown to be the starting quarterback in 2014 and Glennon only started five games that year completing 117 of 203 passes for 1,417 yards and a 57.6 percent completion rate. He has been the backup quarterback to Jameis Winston the past two seasons.

QB Matt Schaub - $1,750,000

Age 35
Ht. 6’6
Wt. 245

Matt Schaub was drafted in 2004 by the Atlanta Falcons in the third round of a draft that included Eli Manning, Philip River, and Ben Roethlisberger. He spent his first three years in the NFL backing up Michael Vick.

The Falcons traded Schaub to the Houston Texans in March of 2007 for two second round picks and an exchange of 2007 first round picks. He remained the starter for the Texans until he was replaced by Case Keenum in the seventh game of the 2013 season.

Schaub was traded to the Raiders in 2014 where he was the backup for Darek Carr. He was released and signed as a backup in Baltimore in 2015 and became the backup in Atlanta in 2016.

Matt Schaub has a lifetime NFL completion average of 64 percent and a quarterback rating of 89.1.

Matt Schaub has spent time with Kyle Shanahan both in Houston and Atlanta. He has a lot of years as an NFL starter under his belt and might be an asset to have on our team. He would be a great help in both the OTAs and training camp because he is familiar with Shanahan’s offense and could give the other offensive positions the ability to learn the plays while the newer quarterbacks are still trying to translate the playbook and terminology onto the field.

QB Landry Jones - $784,805

Age 27
Ht. 6’4
Wt. 223

Landry Jones was drafted by the Steelers in the fourth round of the 2013 draft. Jones has completed 61 of 104 passes for 794 yards, four touchdowns, and five interceptions as a backup to big Ben.

Landry played in his first NFL game in 2015 against the Arizona Cardinals. He replaced Michael Vick in the third quarter with his team trailing 10-6. Landry threw for 168 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Steelers to a come from behind 25-13 win. Landry went on to start two games in 2015 completing 32 of 55 passes for three touchdown and four interceptions.

Jones also started two games in 2016. One was a loss to the New England Patriots where he completed 29 of 47 passes for 281 yards and the second one was against the Browns at the end of the season when Pittsburgh chose to rest their starters. He completed 24 of 37 passes to beat the Browns 27-24.

I am not sure whether his situation isn’t similar to picking up Jimmy Garoppolo without a trade being involved? He actually has more NFL playing time than Garoppolo and came from a big time college football program (Oklahoma) while Jimmy Garoppolo came from Eastern Illinois.

His draft analysis had this to say about him:

Prototypical pocket passer with NFL size. Extremely productive. Can stretch the field with his arm and shows good zip on passes to all parts of the field when his feet are set. Quick release makes him very effective in the short to intermediate passing game. Challenging throws in every start, whether threading the ball versus cover-two or connecting on a back-shoulder pattern.

QB EJ Manuel - $2,827,141 – Bills

Age 26
Ht. 6’5
Wt. 230

Buffalo picked EJ Manual with the 16th pick of the 2013 draft. Manual started 10 games his rookie season completing 180 of 306 passes for 1,972 yards for a 58.8 percent completion rate with 11 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. The Bills went 4-6 with him as the starting quarterback.

Manual started only two games in 2014 before being benched in favor of Kyle Orton and he has only started 5 games for the Bills over the last three years since being benched. He has completed 139 of 241 passes for 1,530 and a 59.6 percent completion rate. His quarterback ratio over his four year career is 77.5.

It seems to me that Manuel is a step down from Colin Kaepernick.

QB Ryan Nassib - $788,400 – Giants

Age 26
Ht. 6’2
Wt. 223

Ryan Nassib was drafted by the Giants in the fourth round of the 2013 draft.. He has spent his entire professional career backing up Eli Manning and has never started a single game in the NFL. He has only played in parts of five games and has nine completions in 10 attempts.

Andre Vergara had this to say about Nassib’s 2016 preseason showing:

“NY Giants fans better pray Eli Manning stays healthy, because backup quarterback Ryan Nassib is having the preseason from hell. Nassib went 2 of 12 for 25 yards and lost a fumble in Saturday’s 21-0 loss at Buffalo. A week earlier he threw two interceptions and lost another fumble in the Giants preseason opener.”

In his defense Manish Mehta had this to say about the Giants offensive line:

Nassib had a 62.4 completion percentage each of his final two seasons at Syracuse, and a quarterback rating of 143.3 his senior year.

QB Mark Sanchez – $2,000,000

Mark Sanchez is a 30-year old quarterback out of USC who was drafted by the Jets in the first round of the 2009 draft. He has a lifetime completion percentage of 56.7 percent and a lifetime quarterback rating of 74.3. He played in two games last season as a backup quarterback for the Cowboys completing 10 of 18 passes with no touchdowns and two interceptions.

QB Kellen Moore - $428,000

He was picked up as an undrafted free agent in 2012 by the Detroit Lions after playing his college ball at Boise State. He has only played in three games and started two and that was for the Cowboys in 2015. He completed 61 of 104 attempts for 779 yards with a completion percentage of 58.7 percent. He threw for four touchdowns and had six interceptions.

QB Geno Smith – $1,597,146

Geno Smith is 26 years old and was originally drafted by the Jets in the second round of the 2013 draft. He is 6’3” and weighs 221 pound. He has completed 57.9 percent of his passes and has rushed for 647 yards for a 4.7 average per carry. After starting in 2013 and 2014, he has mainly been the backup for Ryan Fitzpatrick the past couple of years.

QB Ryan Mallett - $1,500,000

Ryan Mallet is 28 years old and was drafted by the Patriots in the third round of the 2011 draft. Oh no! Not another quarterback from that dreaded 2011 draft! Don’t we already have three of them? Ryan has nine starts in his career with a 55 percent career completion rate.

QB Shaun Hill - $3,250,000

Shaun Hill is 36 years old and was originally picked up by the Vikings as an undrafted free agent in 2002 before playing with the 49ers, Lions, and Rams, and eventually returning to the Vikings. Would an old backup like Shaun Hill be better than any of the quarterbacks we have on the team? Oh wait! Haven’t we already climbed that Hill? Hill has a career completion percentage of 61.8 percent and a career quarterback rating of 85.

QB Josh Johnson - $600,000

Josh Johnson is 30 years old and was originally drafted by the Buccaneers in the fifth round of the 2008 draft. He has a lifetime completion percentage of 54.2 with a quarterback rating of 57.7. Is anyone ready for a third Josh Johnson stint with 49er?

QB TJ Yates - $105,882

TJ Yates is 29 years old and was originally drafted by the Texans in the fifth round of the 2011 draft. He actually started five games for Houston in 2011 passing for 949 yards with a 61.2 completion percentage. He has been a career backup for most of his six year NFL career with a completion rate of 58.1 percent and a quarterback rating of 72.8.

QB Austin Davis - $1,250,000

Austin Davis is 27 years old and was originally picked up as an undrafted free agent by the Rams in 2012. Davis signed a one year contract with the Broncos after being cut by the Browns earlier this year. Davis’ biggest year was in 2014 when he started 10 games, completed 180 passes in 284 attempts for 2,001 yards and a 63.4 completion percentage.

QB Dan Orlovsky - $680,000

Dan Orlovsky is 33 years old and was originally drafted by the Lions in the fifth round of the 2005 draft and he returned to the Lions in April of 2014. Orlovsky is basically a professional backup that has not taken a lot of snaps over his 11+ year career.

QB Matt Cassel - $2,000,000

Matt Cassel is 34 years old and was originally drafted by the Patriots in the seventh round of the 2005 draft. Cassel signed with the Titans in March of 2016. He played in four games and started one last season. He had 30 completions out of 51 attempts with two touchdowns and two interceptions.