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Taking Inventory of the Craziest NFL QB Offseason Cycle Ever

Tom Brady could be in a different uniform next season.
Tom Brady could be in a different uniform next season.
Photo by Eric Sauseda

The National Football League is the king of the team sports landscape right now in nearly every way. Ratings are on the rise again, and a majority of the list of "most viewed" programming on television throughout the year is comprised of NFL games. The Super Bowl is programming mecca.

However, one thing that the NBA has done better than the NFL over the last several years is create drama in their offseason, with the potential for even the biggest stars to change teams. In the last six years alone, LeBron James has changed teams twice, Kevin Durant has done the same, and the list of All Stars playing for new teams within just the last year — Kawhi Leonard, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Chris Paul, among others — is riveting.

Largely because of the existence of the franchise tag (or even the threat of the franchise tag), where teams can designate a player to tag and keep for a big salary and keep them off the free agency market, there isn't nearly the movement of star players in the NFL. Not in free agency, at least, but that may be changing this offseason. For the first time that I can remember, there are some really big names that are either set to hit free agency, or could be turned loss on the market after being let go by their current teams.

Like the NBA with James and Durant on the move, we might even see the greatest of all time change uniforms this offseason, with Tom Brady still not even close to a deal to remain a New England Patriot. Before we predict where the big names might land, let's establish which teams are off the QB market, a list that happily includes the Houston Texans.

Here are the teams that are out of the QB market, either because they're committed to a young player they've recently drafted, or because they have "their guy":

New York Jets: SAN DARNOLD
Buffalo: JOSH ALLEN
Baltimore: LAMAR JACKSON
Pittsburgh: BEN ROETHLISBERGER
Cleveland: BAKER MAYFIELD
Houston: DESHAUN WATSON
Kansas City: PATRICK MAHOMES
Denver: DREW LOCK
Philadelphia: CARSON WENTZ
Dallas: DAK PRESCOTT
Washington: DWAYNE HASKINS
New York Giants: DANIEL JONES
Green Bay: AARON RODGERS
Minnesota: KIRK COUSINS
Atlanta: MATT RYAN
New Orleans: DREW BREES
Arizona: KYLER MURRAY
Los Angeles Rams: JARED GOFF
San Francisco: JIMMY GAROPPOLO
Seattle: RUSSELL WILSON

Of the remaining teams, I would say that New England, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Las Vegas, Chicago, Detroit, Carolina, and Tampa Bay MIGHT be in the market for a new quarterback, and Miami, Cincinnati, and the Chargers are definitely in the market for a new quarterback.

Here are my early predictions for the eight quarterbacks that will be the big name movers and shakers on the market:

TOM BRADY
It's wild to even imagine the possibility of Brady donning another franchise's uniform. The non-Patriot leaders in the clubhouse for his services would appear to be the Raiders (what a splash that would be in their inaugural season in Vegas) and the Chargers (ready made roster, and the glitz of LA, also a team moving into a new stadiuM). Ultimately, the prediction here is he winds up back in New England for another season or two.

PHILIP RIVERS
This we know — Rivers will NOT be back in Los Angeles. He has moved his family to Florida, and the Chargers have publicly moved on. The move to Florida would seem to foreshadow a signing with one of the teams in that state, with Tampa Bay being particularly intriguing. I think Rivers will see the roster, head coach, and GM in Indianapolis and realize that is his best chance at finally making a Super Bowl.

RYAN TANNEHILL
I have Tannehill on this list only because there are faint rumors of a Brady reunion with his old teammate, Mike Vrabel, in Nashville, but I think the heavy chalk is that Tannehill remains a Titan, possibly on the franchise tag. I'll go with that for my prediction.

TEDDY BRIDGEWATER
With Drew Brees announcing his return for another season, presumably re-signing with the Saints, this frees up Bridgewater to find his own crew to go run as a full time starter. There aren't really any ready made teams to make a long term commitment to Bridgewater. Even his hometown Dolphins are still committed to Ryan Fitzpatrick as the veteran bridge to whomever they draft. Man, it's tough to find a lucrative landing spot for Bridgewater. I'll take a flyer and say he signs in Chicago to pounce on Mitchell Trubisky's eventual failure.

JAMEIS WINSTON
Jameis is a high ceiling, high floor guy. If he were to ever just cut his interceptions in half, imagine where he might be able to lead his team. I'm going to say Jameis winds up in Tampa Bay for one more season with Bruce Arians, and we will see where it goes from there.

CAM NEWTON
I think the Panthers and Matt Rhule move on from Newton, despite reports to the contrary earlier this week. The question is "Do they cut him outright, or are they able to nab a draft pick from some unsuspecting team?" Let's go with the Chargers, trying to add some sizzle to their move into a new stadium.

DEREK CARR
Carr has been on the rumor mill trade block from the time Jon Gruden arrived in Oakland. I think the only thing that would force a move away from Carr would be Brady choosing Vegas as his next stop. As stated earlier, I think Brady stays in New England, and thus, Carr stays in Oakland.

ANDY DALTON
This one is long overdue. The Bengals have been floundering in purgatory with Dalton for years, and it finally got bad enough to where having the first overall pick will force them to move on. Dalton's best move is to find a good place to be a backup, and resuscitate his career. Hey, he's from Katy! How about in his hometown? Dalton on a one year, $7 million deal as Deshaun Watson's backup. He may get bigger offers, but none of them will be as a starter, so why not come home? This would be a sneaky good signing by the Texans, too.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.

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