Usually, the first position a team solidifies is starting quarterback. For the New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns and even the Super Bowl champions Denver Broncos, there still isn’t an answer about their #1 guy at the most important spot on the football field.
Peyton Manning is gone, but there are still untouchables in this league: Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers. A lot of other quarterbacks have no competition for their job. Franchise players, with no one even considering 95% of the time replacing them. There are others not that reassuring, but they’re still confident they’ll be starting in the 2016 NFL season, and will continue to do so throughout the season unless something happens shocking.
But there are teams going into the new season with question marks at quarterback, among other issues. Be it replacing someone legendary who was going to retire and left at a problematic time, or simply heading into the same situation like every year, these five teams will figure it out during training camp, preseason and maybe only after a few games in the regular season.
- Cleveland Browns: After a 3-13 season and the end of the Johnny Manziel era, the Browns move on to… well, they’re not sure. Josh McCown is still on the team, but he was terrible last season, and frankly, ever since he suddenly emerged as a potential starter at the age many players retire. Robert Griffin III was brought over and is the favorite for the role, but he didn’t play a single snap last season, and hasn’t impressed previously. Cody Kessler is a rookie out of USC without too many expectations, while Austin Davis and Connor Shaw hope they don’t get cut.
- Denver Broncos: Peyton Manning was always going to retire at the end of the season, Super Bowl ring or not. The Broncos took too long with their Brock Osweiler offer, or maybe they were doomed the moment they benched him before the playoffs. Either way, he left. This means the Broncos will try once again to prove you can do well in the NFL with just a defense, as Mark Sanchez, Paxton Lynch and even Trevor Siemian will try to win the starting job. Lynch might be the favorite here, but not by much.
- New York Jets: After a very good season that ended with no playoffs, Ryan Fitzpatrick was waiting for a big offer. He didn’t get it. He’s still waiting. In the meantime, the Jets are kinda negotiating with him, knowing he doesn’t have any other options. Neither do they. Christian Hackenberg is their rookie QB, Geno Smith is the guy no one believes in, and Bryce Petty is a backup, but if things don’t change, who knows? He might end up starting. He has as good of a chance as anyone.
- Philadelphia Eagles: Maybe a bit forced to be put on the list. Sam Bradford is probably going to be the starter, but it’s always hard to sit a high draft pick like Carson Wentz, especially if he performs well in training camp and preseason. The Eagles are indicating that Bradford will start, but if Wentz is ahead of the curve by a lot and is picked to be the starter of the future, why not go with him now?
- San Francisco 49ers: A team in full tanking mode. Colin Kaepernick wouldn’t give up money, so the 49ers couldn’t trade him, even though they wanted to. Blaine Gabbert is no one’s first choice to start at quarterback. Thad Lewis is a #3 guy at best, and Jeff Driskel, who revived his career at Louisiana Tech, will hope the openness of the job gives him a shot at playing, despite not being one of those high regarded rookies going into the season.