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Predicting the 2018 NFL Opening Day Starting QBs

The 2018 NFL offseason will be better than most. So much money to be given out and so many interesting teams with significant cap room. But which ones will splurge for a QB? In this blog, I’ll look at which teams are set and which teams need to press the reset button at the position. Whether you agree or disagree with my predictions…either way it will be an exciting next three months of activity!

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AFC Teams with Likely Locked-In Starters for 2018
New England – Tom Brady
The ultimate obvious one as the G.O.A.T. isn’t retiring this offseason, especially after a painful Super Bowl loss.
Miami – Ryan Tannehill
Back after missing 2017 with a torn-ACL. Will be the Opening Day starter but with a thin leash throughout the season. Will the Dolphins bring back Matt Moore or sign a better backup QB?
Pittsburgh – Ben Roethlisberger
I think 2018 is his last year before retirement.
-Baltimore – Joe Flacco
He’s a Super Bowl champion QB after all and will be the Ravens starter for the foreseeable future barring injury.
-Jacksonville – Blake Bortles
The Jaguars can’t dump the former #3 overall pick after he led them to the AFC Championship Game this past season, right? Will be interesting to see if they believe in Bortles enough to lock him up long term.
-Indianapolis – Andrew Luck / Jacoby Brissett
Luck is the man if his shoulder is right. If not and / or there is uncertainty come September as to Luck’s health, Brissett gets the nod again this season.
-Houston – Deshaun Watson
Watson would’ve likely been the NFL’s 2017 Rookie of the Year had he stayed healthy last season. He’s primed to be among the top signal callers in the game going forward.

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-Tennessee – Marcus Mariota
I’m expecting big things from Mariota and the Titans offense next season. Needs to take a step up to be the elite QB Tennessee envisioned when drafting him #2 though.
-Los Angeles Chargers – Philip Rivers
While it might be time for the Chargers to start looking for their QB of the future, the future Hall of Famer, Rivers is still playing at an extremely high level heading into his 15th NFL season.
-Oakland – Derek Carr
Will Carr progress under the tutelage of new coach Jon Gruden? If so, the Raiders are a definite playoff contender next season. Carr has proven to be injury-prone in recent seasons though.
-Kansas City – Patrick Mahomes
The Chiefs traded up in 2017 to draft Mahomes in the 1st round and dealt away Alex Smith to Washington to free up playing time for the former Texas Tech QB. Mahomes has a cannon for an arm and needs more receiving help. KC will definitely be in the market for a veteran backup QB though.

AFC Teams with Likely Locked-In Starters for 2018
-NY Giants – Eli Manning
Very tough call here but I’d bet that Manning starts 2018 over a high rookie draft pick. He won’t be the starter in the latter half of the season though.
-Washington – Alex Smith
The Redskins just paid a hefty price to acquire Smith from Kansas City this offseason in addition to the four year, $94 million contract he signed with the team. 
-Dallas – Dak Prescott
Prescott regressed slightly in 2017 after an incredible rookie season but is still clearly Dallas’ long-term answer at QB.
-Philadelphia – Carson Wentz / Nick Foles
Wentz starts on Opening Night if he’s fully healthy. I’ll predict that Super Bowl MVP Foles gets the nod for the first 3-4 weeks until Carson is in fact 100%.

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-Green Bay – Aaron Rodgers
Unless he demands a trade at some point, the league’s most talented passer will eventually retire as a lifetime Packer.
-Detroit – Matthew Stafford
Stafford signed a mega-deal through 2022 and there’s no reason for Detroit to ever consider replacing him.
-Chicago – Mitchell Trubisky
Bears GM Ryan Pace’s fate is tied partly to Trubisky’s as Chicago traded up slightly to acquire the former UNC QB in the 2017 first round. New coach Matt Nagy should be a boost to his long-term value.
-New Orleans – Drew Brees
Technically a free agent, there’s no way the Saints, being a prime Super Bowl contender, will let Brees walk. I wouldn’t be surprised if New Orleans drafted a potential replacement sooner than later though.
-Tampa Bay – Jameis Winston
Has underachieved in recent years but the upside is still there. As long as he stays out of trouble with the law, Jameis will continue to be the guy in TB.
-Atlanta – Matt Ryan
Call me crazy but if his career in Atlanta flames out in the coming years, I could see the former Boston College alum replacing Tom Brady in a few years in New England. For now, he’s the Falcons’ franchise player.
-Carolina – Cam Newton
The 2015 MVP and former #1 overall draft pick isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. 
-San Francisco – Jimmy Garoppolo
The darling QB of the NFL who just got a record-setting contract from the 49ers despite only seven lifetime NFL starts. If he’s as good as he’s shown thus far, San Francisco may have themselves a few Super Bowl rings in the next decade.
-Los Angeles Rams – Jared Goff
The 2016 #1 overall pick took the Rams to the playoffs in his second year after a rookie season flop. Looks to be on his way to franchise QB status.
-Seattle – Russell Wilson
The Seahawks may decline in future years but it won’t be because of Wilson. He’s a future Hall of Famer despite having at least a decade more to play.

Teams in Need of a 2018 Starting QB
Buffalo
NY Jets
Cincinnati
Cleveland
Denver
Minnesota
Arizona

Top Free Agent Options
Kirk Cousins (Redskins)
Case Keenum (Vikings)
Sam Bradford (Vikings)
Teddy Bridgewater (Vikings)
Tyrod Taylor (Bills)
Josh McCown (Jets)

Likely First Round Draft QBs
Josh Rosen (UCLA)
Sam Darnold (USC)
Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma)
Josh Allen (Wyoming)
Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State)
Lamar Jackson (Louisville)

Predicting the 2018 Offseason QB Derby
-Kirk Cousins
signs a $30 million per year contract with the Vikings.
-Tyrod Taylor
agrees to a one year deal in Denver to groom another mobile QB, 2017 Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield from Oklahoma.
Teddy Bridgewater gets the chance to start again in Buffalo though 2016 Heisman winner Lamar Jackson (Louisville) is drafted in the first round as the Bills’ QB of the future.
-The Browns trade the #1 overall pick to the Jets who select Josh Rosen. In return Cleveland picks up New York’s 2018 & 2019 first round selections.
-Teams view Case Keenum as a one year wonder and refuse to give him big money long-term. The journeyman QB signs with the Jets to compete with Rosen.
-With their newly acquired pick #6 in this year’s draft, Cleveland selects big-armed project Josh Allen from Wyoming.

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-In between the Jets’ and Browns’ picks, the Giants take USC’s Sam Darnold at #2.
-The Bengals re-sign backup QB A.J. McCarron and promise him the starting job putting incumbent Andy Dalton on the trade block. Dalton is eventually traded to Miami for a 4th round pick in this year’s draft. The Bengals then sign Miami’s Matt Moore as McCarron insurance.
Sam Bradford signs with Arizona and starts the 2018 as the Cardinals’ QB ahead of 1st round draft pick Mason Rudolph from Oklahoma State.
Josh McCown signs with Green Bay as Aaron Rodgers’ backup.
To read previous entries of my blog, click here. Also make sure to follow me on Twitter @eacohen83.