This NFL offseason could see three big-name quarterbacks switch teams and potentially four QBs selected in the top 10 at the 2021 NFL Draft.
One of the franchises that could look to add a signal-caller in the coming months is the San Francisco 49ers. The team has Jimmy Garoppolo under contract for next season but could walk away from him (with just $2.8 million in dead money) and add a new QB.
The issue is that the Niners will have a ton of competition. Looking around the NFL, there are only 11 teams that appear locked into their 2021 starting quarterback. The Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns already have their QB for 2021 and beyond. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Pittsburgh Steelers have older vets who are battling father time and will eventually need to find replacements for Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger.
That means 21 teams could be looking to upgrade the position this offseason. Not every organization will necessarily make a move. We could see Jared Goff back with the Los Angeles or Dak Prescott re-sign with the Dallas Cowboys.
If Deshaun Watson officially requests a trade from the Houston Texans, he will be the prize of the offseason. It isn’t often 25-year-old quarterbacks who are at the top of their game become available. Teams like the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets have the most draft capital to try and acquire Watson.
We know Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions are ready to move on from each other, and it remains to be seen what happens with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Both players are on the wrong side of 30 but still have a ton to offer.
Rodgers is 37, while Stafford turns 33 in less than two weeks. Rodgers is the more decorated of the two quarterbacks. He’s won a Super Bowl and appears to be the front runner to win his third NFL MVP.
If he does decide he wants out of Green Bay, he wouldn’t be the first Hall of Fame level QB to switch teams late in his career. We have seen several big-name quarterbacks change uniforms in recent history. Let’s see how their careers fared after leaving the franchise that they made their name with.
He silenced the doubters by leading the Bucs to the Super Bowl in his first season with the team. The 43-year-old joined Tampa Bay as a free agent after mutually parting ways with the New England Patriots.
The Bucs went 7-9 in 2019 and missed the playoffs. They added some talented pieces along with Brady, bringing in veterans like Ndamukong Suh and Antonio Brown while also solidifying the offensive line by taking Tristan Wirfs 13th overall at last year’s draft.
Brady completed 65.7% of his passes for 4,633 yards, 40 touchdowns and 12 picks, helping Tampa Bay to an 11-5 record. Brady is going for his seventh Super Bowl title and showed that his success with the Patriots wasn’t all because of Bill Belichick.
One of the best to ever do it, Manning joined the Denver Broncos after spending his first 13 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts. Manning won a Super Bowl with Indy, but after missing the 2011 campaign with a neck injury, both parties decided it was time to move on.
The move paid immediate dividends for the Broncos, who won the AFC West with Tim Tebow leading the charge in 2011.
Manning looked his usual self over his first two years in Denver. The Broncos went 13-3 in his first season but were upset by the Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional Round.
The 2013 season was Manning’s best as a pro, and it came at the age of 37. He set NFL records for passing yards (5,477) and touchdowns (55) as Denver went 13-3 again. This time, the Broncos made it to the Super Bowl but were embarrassed by the Seahawks.
Manning’s numbers expectedly dipped in 2014, but he still had a good season. Manning threw for 4,727 yards and 39 touchdowns, helping Denver win its fourth-straight division title. Once again, he came up short in the playoffs, losing to the Colts in the Divisional Round.
His neck issues flared up in 2015, which wound up being his final season with the Broncos. Manning appeared in 10 games and completed 59.8% of his passes, the lowest percentage since his rookie season. He only had nine TD passes to 17 picks.
Led by Von Miller, the Denver defense was the best in the NFL that season. The unit wreaked havoc on opponents throughout the playoffs and is the biggest reason why Manning captured his second Super Bowl victory. He retired following the championship.
Rodgers was waiting in the wings when the Packers and Favre agreed to part ways. Favre played 16 seasons in Green Bay and retired in March of 2008. But he didn’t stay away from long.
Favre waffled on his decision and wound up wanting to play again. Because the Packers had committed to Rodgers, Favre’s return would have to be elsewhere. He signed with the New York Jets and had a forgettable season. He turned 39 during the 2008 campaign and finished with 3,472 passing yards, 22 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. The Jets went 9-7 and missed the playoffs in Favre’s lone-season with the team. Perhaps the most memorable thing about his time in New York is that Favre was accused of sending nude photos to Jen Sterger.
Favre wound up joining the Minnesota Vikings the following season and bounced back in a big way. Favre — who turned 40 during the 2009 season — threw for 4,202 yards, 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions, leading the Vikings to a 12-4 record.
He played one more season with Minnesota, where he dealt with shoulder and concussion issues. The Vikings went 6-10 in 2010, and Favre officially retired for good following the season.
Brady, Manning and Favre are three of the best QBs in history. Each managed to find some success at their next stops meaning we should expect the same from a talent like Rodgers if he does indeed move on.
The NFC is ripe for the picking. Looking around the conference, there aren’t many teams who have a top-end quarterback on the roster. Other than the NFC West, the rest of the divisions in the NFC are filled with teams that have both short and long-term question marks at the position.
The drama surrounding Rodgers, Stafford and Watson is putting San Francisco’s QB situation in the spotlight. The 49ers have a talented core of George Kittle, Nick Bosa, Fred Warner, Deebo Samuel and hopefully Trent Williams. General manager John Lynch will have to decide if Garoppolo is the guy they hope can lead the team to the elusive sixth Lombardi Trophy.
Rodgers just turned 37, and given how well quarterbacks are protected in today’s NFL, he should be able to play at a high level for multiple seasons. With the Niners in win-now mode, they could go after one of the best to ever do it and be confident they’ll be a contender for at least a few years.