This past week something happened that finally made the world feel a little bit of normal. For one evening, it felt like there was hope. It felt like the gift of sports had returned. Cam Newton finally was off the open market and signed with the New England Patriots. Out of all of the possible teams he could have signed with, the Patriots might have been the most intriguing. So let us take a minute to see where Newton ranks among his fellow AFC quarterbacks. Rookies have not had a chance to prove themselves so will not be considered on this list.
15. Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick has been around the league for a while and has skipped around to 8 different teams. He started on some teams and was a backup on others. We have seen a lot of snaps from him and know who he is, and who he isn’t. Fitzpatrick is a player that can throw for 400 yards and 4 touchdowns in one game, and then turn around and throw 4 interceptions the next. It is clear that if he is a starter he might win you five games maximum, but is one of the greatest backups in league history. Overall a solid, but inconsistent player that is not a starting quarterback. Hopefully he will use his years and experience to be a positive mentor for rookie Tua Tagovailoa.
14. Tyrod Taylor. Much like Fitzpatrick, Taylor has seemed to play the part of a transitional piece that is not good enough to be a successful starter but is good enough to mentor the young up and comer. In his years in Buffalo, he was above average and took the Bills to the playoffs for the first time since 1995. He then ventured west to Cleveland where he started for a few games, but lost the job to former Heisman Winner, Baker Mayfield. In Los Angeles, he may have another opportunity to show that he an once again can be a productive starter in the NFL. The Chargers are not lacking talent, but rookie Justin Herbert, is waiting to take his spot after any mistake.
13. Gardner Minshew. Minshew is a perfect example of a great talent in a terrible situation. Minshew was drafted to a team that had found recent and brief success before he got there, but then began a rebuilding process with plans that most likely do not include him. Last season in 14 games he threw for 3,271 yards and 21 touchdowns with minimal talent. This next year he is not going to look good, with no fault to his own. It is sad to see such a talent’s career be in shambles so early. Hopefully, at some point down the line, he will get another chance to prove his worth.
12. Drew Lock. It seems that Denver has finally found a capable quarterback that will be able to keep up with an excellent defense. There is a chance that Denver could give the Chiefs a run for their money for the AFC West Division crown. Lock hasn’t had too many opportunities to prove himself, perhaps he will be higher on this list at the end of next season. He will not have many excuses, because he has been gifted some of the best offensive weapons in the league. He has the potential to be the next player to come out of nowhere and compete for the MVP trophy.
11. Derek Carr. Carr may be one of the best quarterbacks in Raider’s history but has been skimming the surface of mediocrity ever since his near MVP year in 2016. It seems that 2020 might be his last chance to prove his worth to Coach Gruden and Raider Nation. The Raiders have acquired a lot of young talent, they just need a franchise quarterback to lead them to the promised land. Perhaps Carr could make the most of this year and prove us all wrong.
10. Ryan Tannehill. If you are going off of recency bias, Tannehill should be higher up on this list. If you are to look at Tannehill’s career as a whole, he is a .500 quarterback. Granted he has spent the majority of his career in the toxic culture of Miami and may have a bright future with the Tennessee Titans. If he can perform like he did last season, year after year, there is no question he is a solid franchise quarterback. The Titans have brought back all of their key offensive skill players and should make some noise in the AFC in 2020.
9. Baker Mayfield. Baker Mayfield has proven to be a tough shell to crack. It is been hard to see what he truly is based on his first two seasons in the NFL. As a rookie, he broke the touchdown record and brought the cursed Cleveland Brown franchise a ray of hope. In his second season, he threw for 22 touchdowns, as well as 21 picks and a passer rating of 78.8. His first two seasons were night and day, which makes the 2020 season extremely important for his future. He should be optimistic though because his terrible offensive line has improved dramatically, and his joke of a head coach has been replaced by an offensive mastermind.
8. Sam Darnold. Darnold has honestly been surprisingly productive despite his toxic franchise and horrible offensive line play. He has managed to keep a team above water without talented offensive skill players. If it weren’t for injuries and his unfortunate dance with mono, the Jets may have messed around and found their way into the playoffs. This next season the Jets still don’t have many offensive weapons, but they have made a lot of improvements to the offensive line. If Darnold and the Jets can stay healthy, it will be interesting to see where they end up.
7. Josh Allen. Since Jim Kelly’s Bills in the ’90s, Buffalo has done a lot of nothing. In 2019, the Bills have a team that could put all of that to rest. They seem to have a competent coach and a surplus of young talent on both sides of the ball. Their quarterback, Josh Allen, has been decent but has had issues with accuracy. Through the past season, he showed glimpses of extreme diligence and athleticism. In 2020, the Bills picked up one of the best deep threats in the league Stefon Diggs. With Allen’s rocket for an arm and Digg’s speed they could be a match made in heaven. It is fair to say that Allen has a high ceiling, but still has a lot to prove.
6. Cam Newton. Finally, we have found a place for the former MVP, Cam Newton. He was released by the Panthers at a terrible time. Questions surrounding his health were complex and could not be answered due to COVID 19, while all of the other free agent quarterbacks were signing deals. This past week Newton finally agreed to a deal with the New England Patriots. This season will answer an abundance of questions, such as was Newton’s lack of success due to the alleged injuries or has he really digressed that dramatically. It might also answer the question if Belicheck can win with another quarterback. The narrative of the Patriots still not yielding a large arsenal of offensive weapons still exists, although Newton has accomplished feats with minimal talent in the past. Some aspects of Newton’s contract show that even the Pats are skeptical on Cam, and do not have full trust in him. But, IF Newton is fully healthy and back to his former self, he is sixth on this list.
5. Phillip Rivers. Rivers is another name that has been in the league for a very long time. He has always had tremendous stats and led his Chargers to a winning record season after season. He has disappointed in the league’s biggest stages and is coming off his career-worst year. This may turn a lot of people off and may raise questions about the placement of Rivers. But he has equity in the position and went from one of the worst lines in the league to one of the best. His non-mobile style of play may be outdated, but it will not matter standing behind the Indy O-line.
4. Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben has a lot to prove in 2020, after being listed out for the season early last year, it is clear that he might have some rust on him. He is 38 and could be approaching a cliff where he dramatically drops in productivity. I do not think that season is here yet though. He has underrated weapons and has Super Bowl capabilities. His last full season healthy he led the league in yards with over 5,000. Unfortunately, they share the division with the powerhouse Ravens who they will have to match up with twice. The Steelers franchise seems to make the right decisions frequently, so I trust their judgment in putting their trust in Roethlisberger.
3. Deshaun Watson. Watson has brought a mediocre franchise into the playoff picture season after season. He is a player that just seems to find a way to win no matter what the circumstances may be. In 2020, he will have to play without the talents of one of the best receivers to strap on cleats, DeAndre Hopkins. His weapons are going to be extremely limited. If he can still find a way to the playoffs next year, it will be clear that he is one of the best of the best. A generational talent.
2. Lamar Jackson. Jackson has claimed the second spot on this list, but has an army of talented players licking their chops to take his place. It was clear that in 2019 Lamar Jackson was a human highlight reel. Every week he was making jaw-dropping miraculous plays. He is led by one of the best coaching staffs in the league, and is accompanied by what might be the best roster in the league. It is said that quarterbacks that are mobile are like dogs that chase cars… they never last. Perhaps, if Jackson can learn to slide he can prove this wrong. It will be fun to see how far Jackson takes the Ravens in 2020.
- Patrick Mahomes. It seems as if Mr. Mahomes tops the majority of lists on this website. He is one of the most exciting up and coming players the league has ever seen. In his first season as a starter he took home the MVP trophy and threw for 5,097 yards and 50 touchdowns. He certainly added to his resume in 2019, winning the Super Bowl and the Super Bowl MVP. With the Kansas City Chiefs bringing back the majority of the roster, there is no reason to doubt that Mahomes will be fun and electric yet again.