We don't know what will happen before Free Agency kicks off in March, and now until the NFL Draft in April is even murkier waters. What we do know, however, is how much estimated cap room each team is slated to have going into this offseason and which players are set (or in today's article's case, rumored) to hit the open market.
So with that being said, let's think through it and connect some dots. I have identified the Top 10 upcoming Free Agent Quarterbacks with a little analysis to explain the logic behind where I think they will land next year.
*Please note that while Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel are not technically Free Agents this upcoming offseason, it has been reported that each organization will cut bait with the signal callers.
KIRK COUSINS | WASHINGTON REDSKINS
What the hell got into Kirk Cousins this year? He's been near unstoppable since "You Like That?" No seriously, look at the stats:
To be honest, this is a no-brainer and doesn't require much analysis. In fact, I'm shocked that an extension hasn't been struck yet. Spotrac has a Cousins extensions estimated at 4 years, $82.5M ($20.6M AAV). In fact, since the season ended, Kirk has been waiting in the parking lot like like:
SAM BRADFORD | PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
With the hirings of Doug Pederson as Head Coach and John DeFilippo as Quarterbacks Coach, it will be interesting to see which direction Philly will go at QB. The way I see it is they have two choices. One - bring back Sam Bradford at what is likely an exorbitant price tag (whether by Franchise Tag or a short term extension - 3 years, $56M ($18.6M AAV) according to Spotrac). This is probably the most likely, and frankly, most boring route. The other option I can envision them exploring is perhaps bringing in what seems like a HIGHLY motivated division castaway in Robert Griffin III who would no doubt love to exact revenge on his former team. DeFilippo's hiring made this an even more interesting proposition, as JDF has shown creativity with mobile QBs, and Alex Smith actually did end up scrambling and taking off quite often in Kansas City under Pederson's tutelage. Keep an eye on this one, but either way, I see the Eagles wanting to invest in a young QB (maybe Paxton Lynch?) with the 13th pick in the Draft, so this would be a stop gap signing regardless of who they bring in.
BROCK OSWEILER | DENVER BRONCOS
The Broncos will save $19 million against the cap by "retiring" Peyton Manning this offseason, and I would expect about half of that to be re-invested in Brock Osweiler (4 years, $41M ($10.25M AAV) according to Spotrac). In limited action this season, Osweiler has been just OK, but Elway's options are either paying BO or rolling into 2016 with Trevor Siemian as your starting QB. The latter shouldn't fill Broncos fans with much confidence, and the prospect of them selecting a QB who can contribute day one with their draft selection in the bottom of the first round is likely not feasible.
RYAN FITZPATRICK | NEW YORK JETS
The fact that NFL journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick broke franchise QB records with the Jets offense this past season is astonishing, and he seems to be revered by his teammates in New York. There has already been dialogue about bringing Fitzpatrick back, and this gives developmental quarterback Bryce Petty an extra year to learn. Reports are the Jets are interested in taking another young signal caller to add to the stable in the first 3 rounds, but I would think it's more of a Dak Prescott round 3 situation than a Cook/Wentz/Hackenberg round 1 situation.
ROBERT GRIFFIN III* | LOS ANGELES RAMS
Pretty boring thus far with everyone returning, no? Let's shake it up a little bit. It's almost as if the Griffin III was destined to end up on the Rams after being the victim of a blockbuster trade between St. Louis and Washington in 2012, so let's make it happen to bring everything full circle. The Rams are moving to brand new primetime market and Kroenke needs a sexier name than Case Keenum as their starting QB heading into 2016. Signing RG3 doesn't necessarily mean the Rams don't take a QB like Connor Cook in the first round of this draft, but if that happens, they are going to have to make a decision on Keenum/Foles/Mannion because 4-5 QBs on the roster isn't going to happen. Also, as we mentioned earlier, keep an eye out on the Eagles as a dark horse for Griffin.
JOHNNY MANZIEL* | DALLAS COWBOYS
Early indications of listening to Hue Jackson speak about the QB situation suggest that Manziel's days in Cleveland are numbered. Manziel to Dallas seems like a cliche conclusion at this point, but Jerry Jones might be the only owner who would entertain giving Manziel another chance in this league (see Hardy, Greg). I am still convinced that the Cowboys could be in the mix for Carson Wentz (we'll re-visit after the Senior Bowl), but they could conceivably keep Manziel as an emergency QB3, fully knowing that this will be his last shot at success. If he is released, Manziel will know his options will be limited, so he will sign in Dallas for near the minimum salary.
CHASE DANIEL | PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
This is another interesting name to keep an eye out for the Eagles with Doug Pederson moving to Philly. Daniel has been a perennial back up since entering the league, but the Chiefs may be ready to hand the back up reigns to Aaron Murray, and Tyler Bray will be back in the mix after missing 2015 due to injury. If Daniel does go to Philly, it will be interesting to see what the Eagles decide to do with Sanchez, who the new regime have no loyalty to.
DREW STANTON | SAN DIEGO(?) CHARGERS
34 year old Philip Rivers + leaky Chargers offensive line = better have a back up better than Brad Sorenson. Rivers is a tough dude, but the Chargers will have upwards of $33 million in cap room heading into the offseason, so purchasing some inexpensive insurance for Rivers would seem all too logical. If former USC Trojan Mark Sanchez is released from the Eagles, this would be a team to watch for him with whispers that the Chargers will be joining the Rams in LA as early as 2016.
CHAD HENNE | JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
The bromance in Jacksonville between Henne and Bortles is real. With more cap space than the Jaguars know what to do with, no pressing internal free agents to re-sign for next year, and an uphill battle when it comes to attracting top-tier free agents with a coach in what seems to be his lame duck season (thanks Uncle Vito Stellino), this will likely happen. Henne has to know that his window to be an NFL starter has closed, and he seems to really be enjoying his role as a mentor to one of the most exciting and cavalier Quarterbacks in the NFL.
MATT MOORE | DETROIT LIONS
The readers of SB Nation's The Phinsider have spoken. Let's just say the results are not in Matt Moore's favor.
With new offensive hot shot Adam Gase taking Miami by storm, I don't expect much allegiance to Moore, and I would expect him to bring in an undrafted free agent QB that he falls in love with during the process to compete while he figures out what he has in Ryan Tannehill. Detroit currently does not have a back up QB under roster, and Moore is an experienced vet who can step in and manage a game in a pinch.
*All Cap Projections are from www.spotrac.com