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AP Photo/Roger Steinman

2021 NFL Offseason: Quarterback Carousel Predictions

The 2020 NFL season is in the books after the Buccaneers’ victory over the Chiefs in Super Bowl LV, but the offseason looks like it’ll be one of the most exciting in history. Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff were already traded for each other in the Rams-Lions deal, but the quarterback carousel is expected to be extremely active in the coming weeks. How might some of the top available quarterbacks—and the teams potentially looking for quarterbacks—match up?


Carson Wentz: 49ers

Perhaps it was just a case of Kyle Shanahan talking up an opponent before playing them, but the 49ers head coach had some eye-opening things to say about Wentz before they played in Week 4 of the season:


“We’re coaching like we’re playing against Carson Wentz, who is one of the better quarterbacks in this league. He was the best player in the league the year they won the Super Bowl. I think he’s done a lot of good things since. I know his numbers aren’t great this year and I know a lot of people are saying things about him, but when I watched the film, I’d see Carson Wentz. He’s a guy who can make a lot of plays. He’s very hard to take down, he’s got a strong arm, he competes as much as anyone in this league. I’ve got a ton of respect for him and anytime you get picks and stuff, which aren’t always on the quarterback, but when numbers are like that, that just goes with the territory. I would tell someone like that it would be somewhat easy to deal with because perception doesn’t have to be your reality. He’s a hell of a quarterback and I know how this league feels about him.”


It sounds like Wentz is a guy Shanahan would love to coach. San Francisco has won a lot of games with Jimmy Garoppolo—and they’ve clearly been a better team when he’s been on the field—but Shanahan might want to go for a quarterback he said at one point was the “best player in the league.” It’s just a matter of time before Wentz is traded, and the Niners are a bit of a dark horse, but don’t sleep on them as a possibility.


Jimmy Garoppolo: Patriots

If the Niners do acquire Wentz, it’s easy to connect the dots on Garoppolo being sent back to New England. Unless they were just putting on one of the great poker faces in NFL history, the Patriots held Garoppolo in very high regard—he would have taken over if not for Tom Brady’s performance not declining with age. Bill Belichick still may feel Jimmy G is a quarterback he can win with, and the benefit of a prior relationship could be preferred given that the upcoming offseason may again be impacted by COVID-19. Garoppolo is still just 29 years old.


Derek Carr: Bears

The Bears are reportedly in on Carson Wentz, but I just don’t see that partnership actually happening. Instead, Matt Nagy’s offense may be looking for a steady hand like Derek Carr. Operating Jon Gruden’s offense the past three seasons, Carr has thrown for 4,000 yards while completing at least 67.3% of his passes in all three years, and Chicago may feel that type of production paired with a top defense could get them into the deep postseason mix. For the Raiders, I think they will roll with Marcus Mariota, who had a superb showing in his lone appearance of his first year with Las Vegas, if they deal Carr.


Sam Darnold: Colts

Carr was my first instinct for the Colts, but general manager Chris Ballard recently described ideally getting a “dynamic” player at quarterback—he might see that in former No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold, who is still on his rookie contract and will turn just 24 years old this summer. The Colts might prefer to get up in the draft for BYU’s Zach Wilson; but, instead, Darnold—a former top prospect that the league was very high on—figures to cost much less.


Deshaun Watson: Washington

Watson may ultimately stay with the Texans, who have said they have “zero interest” in trading him and have had multiple reports stating they do not want to deal him. The right course of action probably is to make Watson sit out and forfeit his salary if he really doesn’t want to play for the franchise less than a year after signing a massive extension. However, if Houston does decide to trade him, Washington could be the landing spot. Washington probably feels pretty good about the state of their roster, so they might not mind giving up multiple premium draft picks to acquire Watson. Ron Rivera may feel he can still build an exceptional defense despite losing a bunch of first-round picks, with Watson being the type of player that can carry the offense if needed to create a well-balanced team.


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