With OTAs well underway and the good majority of players having already reported, one of the most exciting aspects of the NFL offseason (other than the draft, of course) has made its way under the microscope: inter-team position battles. At the forefront of almost every competition for a starting spot around the league–at least in the eyes of the fans–is the battle for the starting spot under center.
Right now there are a myriad of question marks spattering depth charts around the NFL. For now, we’ll focus on only quarterbacks, and only three of the bigger and more high profile teams featuring at least two players jockeying for the starting spot.
The New York Jets
As of this minute, last year’s starter Ryan Fitzpatrick remains unsigned by the Jets. The two have seemingly hit a wall trying to negotiate a deal; the Jets offered a front loaded three year deal worth about $24 million while Fitzpatrick claimed to be seeking more in the realm of $15 million a year, but claimed he would take a one year deal worth $12 million. The Jets balked at that, and the stalemate has begun.
Right now, that leaves New York with the possibility of starting either Geno Smith or newly-drafted Christian Hackenberg from Penn State. Neither are particularly appealing options for the Jets, who finished 10-6 last year, barely missing a playoff berth.
Hackenberg, who was taken in the second round, 51st overall, is a project, albeit one with upside. He has mechanical issues that resulted in less than optimal accuracy in his last season at PSU. Smith, another second round pick of the Jets, has underwhelmed since coming into the league a few years ago, throwing 27 touchdowns to 35 interceptions.
Bottom Line: I see Fitzpatrick and the Jets reaching a deal. If that doesn’t happen, expect Smith to start.
The Philadelphia Eagles
When the Eagles traded up to the number two position in the 2015 NFL draft, jaws across the country dropped. Perhaps the most agape, however, was current Eagles starting QB Sam Bradford, who had in March signed a two year, $35 million deal with the birds. It wasn’t far off to assume that Bradford was upset by the Eagles decision to move up in the draft to the number two spot, where they drafted Carson Wentz.
Bradford expressed his disdain for the move while the Eagles continuously claimed that Sam was “their guy.” Their guy, however, was bothered that his team decided to draft a player who many thought had the potential to become a franchise QB, and decided to hold out for a bit during the offseason. The who situation has left a sour taste in the mouths of many Philadelphians.
Wentz, on the other hand, has impressed in OTAs so far. While neither Wentz nor Goff, the first two picks of the draft, were considered “can’t miss” prospects, both were considered top tier. Adam Herman of Bleeding Green Nation suggested Wentz may start week one come regular season play.
Bottom Line: Bradford will start week one, but Wentz will be under center by the end of the season.
The Denver Broncos
Fresh off a Super Bowl victory, the Broncos are notably short in the one position that matters most. Right now, they have two options: Mark Sanchez and Paxton Lynch. Both seem to be lackluster options in the case of the defending champs.
Sanchez struggled replacing Nick Foles in Philadelphia, allowing what seemed to be playoff hopes to slip from his grasp. Lynch, a rookie, has a lot of upside but is still raw. When the Broncos used a first round pick on Lynch they took him as the QB of the future, which bodes well for Lynch in a year or two, not necessarily right now.
Bottom Line: Sanchez starts Week 1. If he plays as poorly as he’s prone to doing, Lynch–or a mystery free agent, may step in.