The NFL season drew to a close in spectacular fashion after backup quarterback Nick Foles inspired the Philadelphia Eagles to their first ever Super Bowl victory, crushing a Patriots side led by Tom Brady, who once again made history.
[divider]COMPARE: NFL Players | NFL Teams[divider]
The Eagles found themselves in the sort of position where many before them had crumbled, leading in the fourth quarter but in danger of a Brady masterclass turning things on their head. That didn’t occur this time though, with Foles’ impact in the biggest game of his career proving decisive.
It shapes up an interesting side story as we head into the long wait ahead of the 2018 NFL season, where quarterbacks will take center stage in April’s draft, this summer’s free agency and a number of trades that could occur ahead of the push for the Superbowl next season. According to many football betting sites the Patriots were heavy favorites to win the Super Bowl, but will there be such a one-sided favorite next year again?
The free agents
Thirty-six quarterbacks in the NFL will be free agents this summer and will be hoping to sign new contracts with their current sides, though other franchises will have the chance to offer a fresh opportunity to those available from March 14th.
There’s likely to be a lot of movement before then though, as we’ve already seen Kansas City trade Alex Smith to Washington, which will lead Kirk Cousins to leave the Redskins to join a new side — and there will be plenty of suitors for the 2016 Pro Bowl quarterback.
Cousins isn’t the only high-rated quarterback set to be available in the next month though, as Minnesota’s Case Keenum, New Orleans’ Drew Brees and Miami’s Jay Cutler could also be on the move — though they potentially face competition for a starting spot up against a new batch of young, hungry potential franchise quarterbacks emerging from the 2018 Draft.
[credit]USC's Sam Darnold is among the top QB prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft. (Photo: USC Athletics)[/credit]
The full list of invitations to the NFL combine has been released, with 16 quarterbacks included. In a draft where many of the NFL’s 32 franchises are searching for a new starting quarterback, this year’s selection is shaping up to be one of the most exciting in a generation.
The Cleveland Browns have first pick once again, and are predicted by many to finally use it to draft a franchise quarterback, while the New York Giants, New York Jets and Denver Broncos could all select a QB within the first ten picks of the draft.
Later on in proceedings, the likes of the Cincinnati Bengals, Arizona Cardinals, LA Chargers, Buffalo Bills, New Orleans Saints and even the Patriots could get in on the act later on, with the latter requiring an understudy to Brady after the trades of both Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett.
Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen and Baker Mayfield are all tipped to be early movers in the draft and potential trades could shake-up the order of proceedings, with Cleveland possibly tempted to trade away the first pick as they also have the fourth pick in the draft, as they acquired the fourth pick from Houston.
As mentioned, trades between NFL franchises could shake-up the drafting order significantly and there could be a number of top-string quarterbacks available, including Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles.
Second-string to Carson Wentz heading into the season, before his campaign was cut short by injury, Foles’ future is up in the air and he could be allowed an exit to become a franchise QB elsewhere. If the Eagles stick with him, then Wentz could be the man on the move.
The Bengals AJ McCarron is also likely to be on the move, potentially available on the open market if he wins his grievance case against the NFL this month and possibly as a restricted free agent if that case is lost. Either way, his name is likely to be doing the rounds.
Tyrod Taylor of the Bills could also be a potential mover, despite leading his franchise to their first playoff season since 1999. Taylor is likely to be considered by many teams as a ‘bridge’ starter, allowing a young QB to develop rather than struggling after being thrown to the wolves- just like DeShone Kizer did at Cleveland.
With a love of moving parts in the market, a number of potential deals are likely to emerge and disappear quickly. There’s still the chance of QB’s that weren’t tied to a team last season, like RGIII, re-entering the mix but that would take a very gutsy call, especially if they were to be considered a starter.
NEXT: NFL MOCK DRAFT: What if the Browns Pass on a QB in the First Round?