(AP) Quarterbacks will rule the NFL’s offseason.
Beginning with Alex Smith going to Washington when the league’s new year starts next month and Jimmy Garoppolo agreeing to a record-breaking deal with San Francisco on Thursday, several quarterbacks will find new riches and many teams will land new QBs in 2018.
Tom Brady may have been denied another championship but not his coordinator, and some believe Josh McDaniels’ sudden change of heart this week in spurning the Indianapolis Colts was related to doubts about Andrew Luck’s health.
Either way, McDaniels is staying in New England to help the Patriots bounce back from their 41-33 loss to Philadelphia in Super Bowl 52 .
The Eagles aren’t just celebrating their first championship since 1960, but also an abundance of talent at the position in franchise QB Carson Wentz and Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles.
Should Wentz’s recovery from knee surgery go well, the Eagles will have a huge bargaining chip to help restock their roster.
Those teams figure to be contenders for Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta if their quarterbacks are healthy. A dozen other teams will either jockey for their next star or dole out big bucks to keep the one they have.
Kirk Cousins and Drew Brees lead an exceptionally large group of veteran quarterbacks lined up for big paydays and possibly new opportunities that includes the Minnesota Vikings’ trio of Teddy Bridgewater, Case Keenum and Sam Bradford.
Garoppolo, Brady’s longtime backup, got a five-year contract from the 49ers that will pay him a reported $137.5 million to keep him off the free-agent market without forcing the team to use the one-year franchise tag.
NFL Network first reported the terms of the contract, which is worth $27.5 million per season to top the previous record set by Detroit’s Matthew Stafford last year by $500,000 per year — but presumably will soon be surpassed by Brees or Cousins.
San Francisco acquired Garoppolo from New England before the trade deadline for a 2018 second-round pick. He led the 49ers to five straight wins to end the season, pushing his record as a starter to 7-0.
Teams that miss out on one of the prized free agents can look to the draft, which features Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Lamar Jackson and Mason Rudolph.
The quarterback carousel began in the days before the Super Bowl when Kansas City agreed to trade Smith to the Redskins.
The deal, which cannot be finalized until March 14, spells the end of Cousins’ time in Washington and hands the Chiefs’ job to Patrick Mahomes III, the 10th pick in last year’s draft out of Texas Tech.
So, Smith, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft, moves on to his third team just as he’s coming off the best season of his 13-year career.
“I think Washington is getting a phenomenal player, a great leader,” Rodgers said last week while discussing the league’s current quarterback commotion.
“Now you’ve got Kirk Cousins, what’s going to happen with him? You’ve got probably five guys that are going to get drafted in the first round, Jimmy Garoppolo and his situation.
“There’s a lot of moving pieces.”
In the not-too-distant future, Rodgers could find himself one of them.
Rodgers, 34, has two years left on his contract and if he stays healthy in 2018, he’ll be in line for a mega payday that could obliterate any of the deals that will be signed.
Rodgers told the AP last week that he wants to play well into his 40s and might have to finish his career in another team’s uniform as Brett Favre did.
“I think you have to be humble enough to realize if it could happen to Brett, it can happen to you,” Rodgers said.
Among the teams looking for an upgrade are the Denver Broncos, who haven’t been back to the playoffs since Peyton Manning retired a champion two years ago.
Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller said he trusts general manager John Elway to fix that in the next few weeks: “We have a Hall of Fame quarterback running the show who’s going to get the right guy,” Miller said.
Miller has a tip for his GM, too.
“No disrespect to Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch, but I would love to play with Kirk Cousins,” Miller said. “When Peyton came to Denver, we just took off. Kirk’s an elite starter, too. I could roll with that.”
With eight trips to the Super Bowl and five rings, Brady is the gold standard of quarterbacks.
Yet, this time he was outdueled by Foles, who showed just how important it is for teams to also have depth at the position.
“To get in a shootout with that guy on the other team is probably not ideal for anyone — ever,” Eagles tight end Zach Ertz said. “The guy is the best quarterback to ever play the game. That team is phenomenal. They are coached amazingly.”
Yet, the Patriots were beaten by a journeyman QB who contemplated retirement not long ago after he kept losing his starting job with his employers in perpetual search of a better option.
Foles turned into a flawless fill-in after Wentz got hurt in December, stepping in to deliver Philadelphia its first Super Bowl title.
Foles has one year left on his two-year deal, and his Super Bowl performance bumped his name up on the long list of coveted quarterbacks.
“He’s amazing,” Ertz said. “The past three weeks he’s been playing out of his mind. People panicked when Carson went down. Nick, we had all the confidence in the world in him.”
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