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Evaluating The Remaining NFL Free Agent Quarterbacks

Since NFL free agency started two weeks ago, the already-thin QB market has thinned even more. The Bears filled their QB gap with three years of Mike Glennon, Brian Hoyer got a 2-year deal in San Francisco, and the Jets recently signed Josh McCown to play under center next season. Although these aren’t huge names going to very competitive teams, these signings will ultimately shape how the 2017 season will play out — as will the rest of the signings that have yet to take place. Obviously it’s clear that the remaining unsigned QBs aren’t an impressive group when guys like Geno Smith and Aaron Murray have been able to lock down agreements, but every team needs a capable backup, and some of these guys could be that (maybe).

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The “Could Maybe Start Somewhere” Tier

Colin Kaepernick

One of the most fundamental rules of the journalism school I never attended was, when making a list of Free Agent QBs, always start with the most intriguing. Wise words, and that’s why I’m starting with Colin Kaepernick, who happens to be the only remaining free agent that’s been in a headline on Fox News. Kaepernick’s career to this point has been back and forth, from playing in a Super Bowl in 2013 to signing a 6-year, $114 million (!!!!!) extension with the Niners in 2014 to free agency at age 29. Not to mention controversy over his pregame routine, which was what prompted Spike Lee to call the fact he’s still a free agent “Straight Up Shenanigans,Subterfuge, Skullduggery And BS.” Kaepernick certainly didn’t live up to his last deal, starting only 19 games over the last 2 seasons and compiling a 3-16 record, but he’s shown glimpses of duel-threat talent in the past and is still young enough to turn it around. Most teams that are still looking for a QB will probably do so through the draft, but if any free agent QB does sign, it’s a safe bet it’ll be Kaepernick.

Jay Cutler

I’ll be honest with you – when I heard the Jets signed Josh McCown the other day, I was pretty pissed. Jay Cutler and the New York Jets would’ve been a combination that only PB&J could compete with, and it’s unfortunate it never got to happen. That team and that city would’ve done its best to crush Cutler’s will to compete – but ultimately failed, because Chicago did that at least 3 or 4 years ago. Cutler’s coming off a year in which he started just 5 games before missing the final 11 with a shoulder injury. The Bears went 1-4 with him (2-9 without him) and he threw for 4 TDs, 5 interceptions, and just over 1,000 yards on the year. Cutler also turns 34 next month, and many have already speculated he may have thrown his last NFL pass. Regardless I look at him as a guy who does have a bit of talent and never got much of a chance to show it, and maybe one last change of scenery could generate a decent year or two. Who knows?

The “Capable Backup” Tier

Ryan Fitzpatrick

After Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 2015 campaign in which he started all 16 games while racking up career highs in yards (3,905) and TDs (31), I was a big proponent of the Jets re-signing him to a semi-lucrative deal. Not just because I’m a Patriots fan and I didn’t want the Jets to spend money on a proven franchise QB when they had Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker on the roster, but also because Fitz seems like a hard working guy and he certainly outperformed expectations in ’15. The Jets ultimately did re-sign him, although it took until the end of July for the 1-year, $12 million deal to be finalized, and they also added Matt Forte to give Fitz a running game. In return, Fitzpatrick started just 11 games due to a mix of injuries and benchings, and threw just 12 touchdowns compared to 17 interceptions. He turned 34 in November and hasn’t generated a ton of buzz over the course of free agency, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see Fitz on a roster at some point in 2017.

Robert Griffin III

Remember when we all thought signing with the Browns would be Robert Griffin III’s low point? Sure, he’d endured some hard times in DC after his impressive rookie campaign, but this is Cleveland, where they breed losing. Hadn’t been worse than that, and certainly couldn’t get any worse. Well, now he’s a free agent and is garnering little to no interest among teams still needing a QB. RG3 is coming off a season of career-lows in just about everything – starts (5), completion percentage (59.2), yards (886), and touchdowns (2). Minor setback for a major comeback? Or possibly the end of the road for a young, promising QB that can’t seem to stay on the field? We’ll find out over the course of this summer, but it could go either way.

The “Not A Total Lost Cause But Would Be 4th String On The Patriots” Tier

Case Keenum

Case Keenum had a lot of promise coming out of college – despite going undrafted – but it has yet to translate to any real NFL success. Keenum set a career high last season in Los Angeles with 9 starts, which led to career high marks in completion percentage (60.9) and yards (2,201). He was also benched in favor of rookie Jared Goff after Week 10, which doesn’t bode well for him in the free agent market. Keenum definitely showed some promise on a shitty Rams team last year, including a string of 3 straight wins early in the year and a span of 19 straight completions in a Week 6 game against Detroit, so it’s fair to argue that his lack of success has been as much a product of bad teams as bad play by him. Either way, he’s yet to impress anyone too much, leading to the lack of interest in him thus far in free agency.

 Honorable Mention: Chase Daniel, Blaine Gabbert, “Clipboard Jesus

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