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Diamonds in the Rough
Football is the ultimate team sport – except for one position. With very few exceptions, if a team doesn't have at least an above average quarterback, it will not have success. It has every bit as much to do with supply and demand as it does with the value of the position on the field. Of the 32 NFL teams, how many have even competent play at the position? Maybe half?
It's no wonder, then, that coaches and general managers stake their jobs on finding a 'franchise QB'. Look at the New Orleans Saints – they have mortgaged their future in order to get talent around Drew Brees. The day he retires, though, they have to pay the piper – to the tune of 25% of their salary cap going to players who aren't even on the team.
The divide between the have's and have-nots is as wide as ever, and those without did their all to get a QB this offseason. Week one of this season, though showed another danger- overpaying for that QB. Even as important as it is, it can be done (*cough* RGIII *cough*). Take a look at the four (if you said five, don't get ahead of me) major QB storylines this offseason: the Rams, the Jets, the Washington D.C. Football Team, and the Texans.
The Rams: with a move to LA, they needed the face of their franchise. They got it in Jared Goff, trading up to #1 overall to pick Jared Goff. However, they didn't learn from another trade they had been involved in (seriously, stop getting ahead of me), when Washington traded a king's ransom for RGIII, which has gone swimmingly. The Rams gave up two 1's, two 2's, and two 3's to pick this face of their franchise, who introduced himself to his new city and the NFL in week one by... not... even... suiting... up. Awesome. Great job Rams. At least RGIII dressed, and played, and played well week one. Maybe Goff goes on to be in the Hall of Fame, but to trade that draft haul for a player, they better be NFL ready week one.
The Jets: They played a game of musical chairs/chicken/will-they-won't-they with Ryan Fitzpatrick all offseason. Fitzpatrick is that guy. He is a decent enough QB, the guy you turn to when you don't really have anyone else to turn to. Except, they kinda did, in Geno Smith, who is not someone you want to have to turn to. But they drafted him in the second round, which isn't overspending in and of itself, except Geno Smith sucks, and Fitzpatrick has represented a dramatic upgrade over him for the last two years, and he knows it, getting the Jets to pay him $12m to be Not Geno Smith. Woof.
Washington: Oh, Washington. Fun Fact: my family is from D.C.. I am a fan of this team. I won a RGIII jersey in a bet because I hated that trade so much. Also a fact: This is the dumbest team in the NFL. They made that catastrophically idiotic trade for RGIII, and then drafted Kirk Cousins. Only, last year, it almost looked smart for them to hedge their bets, because RGIII is held together with chewed bubble gum and wishful thinking and Cousins was serviceable. But is that serviceable sustainable? They will pay $20m to find out, after giving him the franchise tag. If he plays well, it will cost them a lot more to sign him long-term. If he stinks up the joint, well, they only lose that $20m. And any future plan at QB. But, hey, maybe they have a high draft pick!
Texans: Brock Osweiler sat behind, and learned from, one of the greatest quarterbacks in history. And when he was injured, Osweiler stepped right up and played... not terribly. For that Not Terribleness, the team that drafted him... let him walk. The QB-addled Texans, however, snapped him up to the tune of $72m. I'm not holding my breath.
Overall, those quarterbacks went 118/148 for 879 yards, 4 TD and 4 INT, which is far from the worst line (29.5/37/220/1/1 on average). But none of those teams won.
And maybe you got ahead of me for saying four QB storylines. Osweiler departed Denver and Manning retired. Philadelphia also traded up for a QB. What about them?
Philadelphia, like LA, gave up a fortune to draft Wentz. It was a lot, to be sure, and Philadelphia has had its own share of QB woes, but unlike Goff and the Rams, Wentz dressed and started week one, and more importantly, accorded himself well, to a line of 22 for 37, 278 yards, 2TD and 0INT- certainly better than any of the aforementioned quarterbacks. Philly may had paid a lot – but at least they got their money’s worth.
On the flip side, there is Denver. They had a hall of famer in Manning, and an ostensible serviceable QB in Osweiler – but they let him walk. Why? Because they drafted Paxton Lynch- only a step below Goff and Wentz in this years draft- 26th overall, and they had Trevor Siemian to start who... probably won't be a hall of famer, but for a second year, project QB, his week one line was 18/26, 178 yards, 1TD and 2INT. Not great, by any means. But, the Broncos won, not because Siemian was spectacular, but because he wasn't expensive. They found value, not an uncommon theme among top-tier quarterbacks, and more significantly, top-tier teams.
- Dean E.S. Richard