Prominent NFL quarterbacks have been on the move this offseason, and not just Tom Brady choosing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency.

Philip Rivers landed in Indianapolis. Teddy Bridgewater headed to Carolina. Nick Foles was traded from Jacksonville to Chicago. Ryan Tannehill remained in Tennessee, Drew Brees in New Orleans and Dak Prescott in Dallas. Cam Newton and Jameis Winston were displaced and remain available.

Cam Newton

Quarterback Cam Newton, released by the Carolina Panthers, remains unsigned. Charles Krupa/Associated Press

But the quarterback reshuffling isn’t done, and the draft is almost at hand. The NFL is moving forward with the draft amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, and much of the intrigue for the TV-only event will revolve around the big-name quarterbacks.

There is one near certainty: The Cincinnati Bengals, with the first selection, will take Joe Burrow, the Heisman Trophy winner from LSU. Many believe the Miami Dolphins, who have the No. 5 pick among a trio of first-rounders, will end up with Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, even if they have to trade up to do it. But is that a sure thing?

The Los Angeles Chargers, after parting with Rivers, and the Brady-less New England Patriots lack established starters. Will the Jaguars, after dealing Foles, be content with Gardner Minshew? Will teams with aging stars look to put eventual successors in place?

Here’s a look at teams with major quarterback decisions to make in this draft.

TEAMS WITHOUT CLEAR-CUT STARTERS

Bengals: The speculation that Burrow might make like John Elway or Eli Manning and attempt to manipulate the draft by refusing to play for Cincinnati faded after he said at the NFL combine in February that he indeed would play for the Bengals if selected by them. He put up dazzling numbers last season as LSU won the College Football Playoff national championship. The real decision left for the Bengals is whether they will trade former starter Andy Dalton at some point during the draft.

Tua Tagovailoa

Will the Dolphins have enough faith in Tua Tagovailoa to use the fifth pick, or maybe even trade up to get him? Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

Dolphins: There was so much talk last season, amid their roster dismantling, that they were tanking – presumably with the intention of landing Tagovailoa, at that point regarded as the likely top choice in this draft. But then came the hip injury that cut short Tagovailoa’s season and Burrow’s rise to stardom.

The Dolphins now have an interesting choice to make. They possess three first-round picks – Nos. 5, 18 and 26 overall – and six of the top 70 choices. Medical information gathering has been limited by coronavirus-related restrictions. The Dolphins can trade up for Tagovailoa if they believe his hip is sound and don’t want to risk another quarterback-needy team getting in front of them. They can stay put if they want Tagovailoa and believe he’ll be available at No. 5. Or they could opt for Oregon’s Justin Herbert if they are wary of Tagovailoa’s physical status or simply prefer Herbert.

Chargers: The Chargers parted with Rivers after 16 seasons and failed in their bid to get Brady. They have not, to this point, given any public indication that they’re going to sign Newton, instead talking about promoting Tyrod Taylor to starter. They have the No. 6 pick and are well positioned to get Herbert or Tagovailoa, depending on which passer Miami selects, but it remains to be seen whether the Chargers have a strong enough conviction about either to attempt to trade their way in front of the Dolphins.

Patriots:

Bill Belichick

Will Bill Belichick use the draft to bring in a new quarterback now that Tom Brady has gone to Tampa Bay? Associated Press/Charles Krupa

The post-Brady era begins with, for now, Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer as Coach Bill Belichick’s starting quarterback options. Belichick has not traded for Dalton or made a move to get Newton or Winston. The Patriots are tight against the salary cap and had a procession of veterans leave in free agency. With any other team, this would look an awful lot like a rebuilding project. But is there such a thing with a Belichick-coached Patriots team, even minus Brady?

There has been speculation about Belichick making a bold trade up to get Tagovailoa. That seems a bit far-fetched, given how far the Patriots would have to go from No. 23. It will be interesting if Utah State’s Jordan Love is available for the Patriots’ selection, or if they choose to move up a few spots up. Georgia’s Jake Fromm, Washington’s Jacob Eason and Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts could be options on the draft’s second day.

ROOM TO WONDER

Jaguars: Jacksonville gave up on Foles and traded him only one season after handing him a four-year, $88 million contract in free agency. Minshew had his moments as a rookie last season. But is that enough to trust that he will be a reliable starter?

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

Buccaneers: The future is now for the Buccaneers after their all-in move for a six-time Super Bowl winner. But Brady turns 43 in August, and at some point they’ll have to think about who comes next.

Saints: Brees opted against retirement and re-signed on a two-year deal. Taysom Hill takes over as the backup with Bridgewater gone. Do Coach Sean Payton and General Manager Mickey Loomis trust that Hill can be Brees’ successor, or will they make a move to put a young quarterback in place?

Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger returns from last season’s elbow injury; he turned 38 in March. The Steelers missed the playoffs last season with Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges taking over. They now have Paxton Lynch and J.T. Barrett on the roster, too. It’s doubtful that any of those options makes Coach Mike Tomlin feel overly confident about the post-Roethlisberger future.

Colts: Rivers takes over for Jacoby Brissett, who inherited the job when Andrew Luck abruptly retired last preseason but failed to get the Colts into the playoffs.

Lions: There was trade speculation this offseason about Matthew Stafford. He’s still in Detroit. The Lions could trade down from No. 3, but will they consider a quarterback at some point during the draft?


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.