Monday, April 15, 2024
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NFL free agency 2024 QB market: Top available players, projected contracts, best team fits

The 2024 NFL offseason is underway after the Kansas City Chiefs raised their latest Lombardi Trophy. And free agency is right around the corner. Starting March 11, all 32 teams can begin negotiating with players who have expiring contracts. Two days later, signings and trades can be made official, setting the stage for next season’s biggest wave of roster turnover.

As always, quarterbacks are expected to headline the veteran market. In a league increasingly built on play-making under center, plenty of teams figure to be shopping for the position. With that in mind, here’s a look at 2024’s top QB free agents, as well as projected contracts and best team fits:

Note: The following list only includes quarterbacks whose contracts are currently set to expire this offseason. Others, like the Denver Broncos’ Russell Wilson and Las Vegas Raiders’ Jimmy Garoppolo, are expected to be released but remain under contract.

(QB ages are as of Sept. 1, 2024. “AAV” denotes projected contracts’ average annual value.)

Honorable mentions

Before listing our top 10 quarterbacks likely to be available this offseason, these signal-callers could be useful adds for any team in need of an upgrade or added depth at the position.

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  • Sam Darnold (49ers) is following the Mitch Trubisky path: a former top-three pick with underrated mobility, seeking a potential summer competition after accepting a backup role for a contender. Some tools remain, even if the resume is lacking.
  • Joshua Dobbs (Vikings) has proven surprisingly adept at managing a game on a moment’s notice, briefly flashing as a dual threat with multiple teams in 2023, but his decision-making tends to get more dicey the longer he stays under center.
  • Tyler Huntley (Ravens) has a Pro Bowl nod on his resume for a brief playoff run in place of an injured Lamar Jackson in 2022, but he’s been more effective as a scrambler than a do-it-all QB in Baltimore’s run-heavy offense.
  • Marcus Mariota (Eagles) can still fly on the ground, and his 74 games of starting experience qualify him for a top backup job, but he’s now on track for his fourth team in as many years, struggling to find a rhythm through the air.
  • Mason Rudolph (Steelers) instilled unexpected precision-passing authority late in 2023, but he’s been just passable in extended action over six years as the No. 2/3 in Pittsburgh. He’s destined for another reserve role.

10. Drew Lock

Age: 27 | Season: 6th | Current Team: Seahawks

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The former second-round pick hasn’t posted a winning record as a starter since his 2019 rookie season with the Denver Broncos, but he’s still got big-play moxie and an above-average arm, as shown in two starts for the injured Geno Smith in 2023. His penchant for tight-window darts could keep him from reclaiming a No. 1 job, but he’s young enough to earn another competition.

Projected AAV: $4M-$5M | Best team fits: Bears, Bills, Raiders, Rams

9. Tyrod Taylor

Age: 35 | Season: 14th | Current Team: Giants

NFL: New York Jets at New York Giants

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The one-time Buffalo Bills starter was arguably the New York Giants’ best QB in a rocky 2023 season, but he struggled to stay on the field, which has been an issue at each of his last four stops. In terms of short-term fill-ins, however, he’s among the most polished, still offering solid mobility and deep-ball touch. He should find work as a trusted No. 2 yet again.

Projected AAV: $4M-$5M | Best team fits: Bears, Colts, Commanders, Jets

8. Joe Flacco

Age: 39 | Season: 17th | Current Team: Browns

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Untouched for much of 2023 after fizzling out as a New York Jets backup, the former Baltimore Ravens stalwart reemerged as something of an ageless wonder for the Cleveland Browns down the stretch, slinging his way to a surprise playoff appearance. His stationary, chuck-it-and-pray approach should permit him at least one more run as a veteran No. 2.

Projected AAV: $4M-$5M | Best team fits: Browns, Chargers, Jets, Patriots

7. Jameis Winston

Age: 30 | Season: 10th | Current Team: Saints

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Reports indicate a recent contract restructure will likely have the charismatic backup back on the market after a four-year run with the New Orleans Saints, in which he made just 10 mercurial starts. Winston has yet to consistently stay healthy or control the ball when pressed into extensive action, but he’s experienced, a beloved locker-room presence and still possesses a splashy arm.

Projected AAV: $4M-$5M | Best team fits: Bills, Broncos, Raiders

6. Carson Wentz

Age: 31 | Season: 9th | Current Team: Rams

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The maligned former Philadelphia Eagles star finally submitted to a backup gig in 2023, taking a page out of the Baker Mayfield handbook with a half-year of Sean McVay tutelage. His never-say-die approach will always make him a riskier bet with prolonged playing time, but his combo of experience (90+ career starts) and arm talent make him a high-upside “relief pitcher.”

Projected AAV: $4M-$5M | Best team fits: Bills, Rams, Saints

5. Jacoby Brissett

Age: 31 | Season: 9th | Current Team: Commanders

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Save for an underwhelming stop with the Miami Dolphins, Brissett has posted respectable marks as an emergency fill-in and/or last-minute starter everywhere he’s been. Granted, his teams have almost exclusively asked him to be conservative with the ball. But his adaptability across different systems makes him a reliable plug-and-play vet for any club needing a No. 2.

Projected AAV: $5M-$10M | Best team fits: Browns, Cardinals, Jets, Patriots

4. Gardner Minshew

Age: 28 | Season: 6th | Current Team: Colts

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The former Jacksonville Jaguars fan favorite perfectly straddles the line between starter and backup, never quite settling in as an efficient, accurate game manager while also never losing the spirited poise that wins over teammates and produces some timely big plays. Five years in, it’s relatively clear he’s better suited as a Plan B under center, but after scrappy playoff-caliber stretches with both the Jags and Indianapolis Colts, you could do much worse.

Projected AAV: $7M-$10M | Best team fits: Colts, Raiders, Steelers, Vikings

3. Ryan Tannehill

Age: 36 | Season: 13th | Current Team: Titans

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Once the darling face of the scrappy Tennessee Titans, Tannehill has managed just 20 ugly starts since 2022, battling injuries and turnover sprees behind a crumbling O-line. Before that, he resembled prime Jimmy Garoppolo with the San Francisco 49ers: solid enough as a play-action game manager to lead playoff runs, but more dependent on his supporting cast than most. A few clubs could still try to squeeze what QB1 potential he has left, but he’s probably best suited as a high-level fallback plan.

Projected AAV: $5M-$15M | Best team fits: Jets, Patriots, Steelers, Vikings

2. Baker Mayfield

Age: 29 | Season: 7th | Current Team: Buccaneers

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The former No. 1 overall pick finally worked the QB carousel to his benefit in 2023, parlaying short-lived stops with the Carolina Panthers and Los Angeles Rams into a trial run as Tom Brady’s successor with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And while there were hiccups along the way, Mayfield mostly proved he still belongs as a starter, pairing trademark toughness with improved decision-making to post career numbers and earn his first Pro Bowl nod. He certainly profiles more as an overachiever than a difference-maker, but in a league where only a small handful of QBs are truly transcendent, he deserves a hefty raise.

Projected AAV: $25M-$30M | Best team fits: Buccaneers, Falcons, Raiders, Vikings

1. Kirk Cousins

Age: 36 | Season: 13th | Current Team: Vikings

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The King of Free Agent Quarterbacking, Cousins is no stranger to playing the market. While he’s suited up for just two teams in his decade-long career, he’s successfully milked both Washington and Minnesota on the financial front. But here’s the kicker: He’s mostly lived up to the money. While Cousins notoriously lacks a defining big-game resume, he’s been one of the steadiest passers of his time, routinely ranking among the game’s most accurate and efficient while still showcasing an eye for the splash play. His off-script tools are limited, and his Achilles tear at age 35 is another concern. But in a game perpetually starved for consistent, quality QB play, Cousins is as safe a bet as they come. Both he and the Vikings would like to continue their marriage, but both sides also have reason to court other options, making him potentially the most prized veteran of the offseason.

Projected AAV: $35M-$45M | Best team fits: Broncos, Commanders, Falcons, Vikings, Raiders

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