NFL Offseason QB Cheat Sheet: Best Available Options for QB-Needy Teams

The NFL is a quarterback-driven league, and it’s about to be a quarterback-driven offseason.

The Chicago Bears, via a trade with the Carolina Panthers, hold the top pick in April’s 2024 NFL Draft—or in other words—control the right to select USC’s Heisman Trophy-winning QB and consensus top prospect Caleb Williams at No. 1 overall. But the Bears have a decision to make.

Does Chicago take Williams, or trade out of the slot and stick with Justin Fields? Whatever the answer is will have league-wide ramifications for QB-needy teams. If the Bears do take Williams, then the top signal-caller is off the draft board, but a top trade candidate (Fields) will hit the market. But if Chicago decides to deal No. 1, then a frenzy for Williams’ services is bound to ensue. Because whether it’s via the draft or not, there are plenty of teams desperate for some quarterback help before the 2024 season kicks off.

Some franchises could seek draft-eligible solutions as potential QB remedies (Commanders and Patriots), while others may be inclined to bring in a veteran to compete with, or take over for, their QB1s from last year (Steelers and Falcons for starters). And that’s not to mention the organizations that are in a sort of limbo at the position (Raiders, Broncos, Vikings, and more).

So, what could the offseason hold under center for these teams?

From free agents to draft prospects to trade candidates, here’s a look at some of the best quarterbacks available over the next few months.

Caleb Williams
Caleb Williams of the USC Trojans is seen at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 18, 2023, in Los Angeles. Williams is one of the many pieces in the league-wide quarterback puzzle this NFL…

Ryan Kang/Getty Images/Getty Images

Top-Rated QBs In 2024 NFL Draft

For the second year in a row, the Bears have the top-overall draft pick. Trading last year’s No. 1 selection netted Chicago four draft picks and star wide receiver D.J. Moore, and an even sweeter package could be on its way again if the Bears hit the draft trade block. But this time around, Chicago could be inclined to stay put.

Williams may just be too good to pass up.

The 6-foot-1 former All-American has franchise QB hype—plus comes with an ever-attractive rookie contract—is widely considered one of the best prospects of the last decade, and is as close as can get to being the unanimous top pick. Williams goes No. 1 in mock drafts by ESPN, USA Today, The Athletic, CBS Sports, NFL Network and, well, that about sums it up.

After Williams as the clear-cut top pick, though, the highly touted 2024 QB class becomes a little murkier. North Carolina’s Drake Maye has long been considered the second-best signal-caller in the draft, though LSU’s Jayden Daniels is also making a run at that spot. Behind them, in some order, as quarterbacks who could hear their names called early in April are Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy, Washington’s Michael Penix Jr., and Oregon’s Bo Nix.

The upcoming scouting combine and each player’s respective pro day should help decipher the expected order for these quarterbacks come draft day.

QB Trade Market Could See Fields Boost

At least one quarterback domino will fall if the Bears do in fact go with Williams.

Fields could be the top quarterback on the trading block this offseason if the Windy City’s team decides to start fresh at the position. The 24-year-old former first-round pick has one year remaining on his rookie contract, plus a looming decision on his fifth-year option, and maybe a change of scenery could finally get the most out of his dual-threat abilities. And for the Bears, trading Fields and recouping what some project as a second-round pick and more in the process could help the franchise put the finishing touches on a roster that could soon be playoff-ready.

There are other veteran QBs that could soon be fielding offers, though it’s currently unclear if it will be on the trade market or as free agents.

The Broncos benched Russell Wilson toward the end of last season, and it was reported Denver may cut the nine-time Pro Bowler in the coming weeks. If a trade partner emerges, though, that could be another option for head coach Sean Payton and company. In similar fashion, Jimmy Garoppolo was relieved of his duties in his first year with the Raiders. Now that Las Vegas is under a new regime, a parting of ways of some sort seems inevitable.

NFL Free Agency: Best 2024 QBs Available

NFL teams going down the free agency path to solve their QB puzzle will be faced with a variety of potential pieces they could make fit, from longtime starters to reliable backups and others in-between. But the two best free agent quarterbacks this offseason may end up staying put.

Kirk Cousins and Baker Mayfield have both publicly expressed interest in re-signing with their respective teams this offseason.

Cousins said last month that the structure—or as he put it “everything that isn’t the dollars”—will be the most important part of his new deal, which he would like to be with the Vikings. The 35-year-old, who was tied for the most touchdown passes in the NFL when he ruptured his right Achilles tendon in Week 8, played “great” in his sixth season in Minnesota, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said previously. And bringing Cousins back for a seventh year with the franchise is an idea Vikings executives are warm to, ESPN reported.

As for Mayfield, he set career-highs in a slew of categories in his first season with the Buccaneers. The former No. 1 overall pick led the Bucs to a division title and a playoff win in the first season of the post-Tom Brady era, and head coach Todd Bowles said Mayfield “most definitely earned” the right to be the franchise’s QB moving forward.

If contract negotiations don’t work out in either quarterback’s case, they should have plenty of suitors on the free-agent market.

And as far as other available QBs, the list includes: Gardner Minshew, Ryan Tannehill, Jacoby Brissett, Jameis Winston, Tyrod Taylor, Sam Darnold, Jake Browning, Joe Flacco, Joshua Dobbs, among others.

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Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

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