This NFL offseason could produce all sorts of changes at the quarterback position across the league. Last week’s Jared Goff-Matthew Stafford swap is just getting the ball rolling, so to speak. You could argue that less than half the league is set in stone at QB entering 2021, with the Seattle Seahawks among those precious few.
That means for those of you judging the Seahawks’ 2021 strength of schedule based on the results of 2020... you shouldn’t even be doing that anyway because it’s freaking February, but you’ll have to do serious reassessing depending on what ch-ch-ch-ch-changes we see.
If you need a reminder, here are the Seahawks’ scheduled opponents:
San Francisco 49ers
Los Angeles Rams
TBD (If 17th game is approved)
Now let’s just take a look at their quarterback situations and you’ll realize how wacky 2021 could be:
Change has already happened/will happen
Los Angeles Rams and Detroit Lions. I mean you read the first paragraph, right? Jared Goff will be a Detroit Lion when the new league year starts, and Matthew Stafford will be a Ram.
Indianapolis Colts. They’ve not found a new quarterback yet but Philip Rivers has officially retired, so there will be no Russell Wilson vs. Rivers trilogy.
Jacksonville Jaguars. With all due respect to Gardner Minshew III, he is not going to start over Trevor Lawrence. The Jaguars are obviously going to draft Lawrence with the top pick and Minshew can be the backup.
Change is most likely happening
New Orleans Saints. Drew Brees hasn’t officially announced his retirement, hence I didn’t put the Saints in the first category, but he’s got one foot out the door. I don’t know about you, but Brees doesn’t look like a quarterback whose arm is capable of another year. Taysom Hill is the obvious choice to be his successor seeing as he’s the only QB under contract for the team next year, but will Sean Payton give up the gadget plays and the fact that he plays damn near every position just so he can be the QB full-time? I don’t know about that yet.
Houston Texans. The Texans don’t have to trade Deshaun Watson but the offers that will surely be coming in over the next several weeks will surely make it irresistible. They don’t have a first- or second-round pick this year and the roster is crumbling. Watson sees the writing on the wall and there’s nothing to suggest he’ll come back to Houston. The publicized dysfunction of upper management and ownership likely makes that team a no-go for a lot of notable free agents.
Chicago Bears. Management may yet be tricked into giving Mitchell Trubisky another contract even after declining his fifth-year option, but it’s unlikely. Trubisky played better after replacing the injured Nick Foles but he was also lighting up the junior varsity defenses like the Lions, Texans, and Jaguars along the way.
Washington Football Team. I mean technically change already happened in the form of benching and then cutting Dwayne Haskins, but since Alex Smith appeared in the most games let’s go with him as the starter. It would be categorically stupid to rely on a 37-year-old Smith to be your starting quarterback next season. Not only is that broken leg still just etched in my memory forever, but his intended air yards per attempt was a ridiculously low 5.1.
Change could happen
San Francisco 49ers, Minnesota Vikings. You’ve probably seen the report that the 49ers are interested in trading for Kirk Cousins, and whether that means sending Jimmy Garoppolo to Minnesota or not, that’d leave both teams with new starting QBs. I’m a little skeptical about this but it doesn’t seem inconceivable. Kyle Shanahan was Cousins’ OC back in Washington and the fact that Cousins is durable and Jimmy G is decidedly not (and also isn’t a very good quarterback) would make such a trade seem logical. Cutting Garoppolo after June 1 would save $25 million in cap space and only incur $1.4 million dead money. Even prior to June 1 it’s $2.8 million dead money/$23.6 million cap savings.
Green Bay Packers. I thought about putting this in the “no changes expected” section considering I don’t think the Packers will trade Aaron Rodgers. The iffy bit is messy ending to the NFC Championship Game, which produced Rodgers’ juicy quote about his future in Green Bay being uncertain. That was probably some dramatic heat of the moment stuff. He’ll surely win league MVP on Saturday night and the thought of Rodgers heading elsewhere after such a brilliant season seems far-fetched, but they also traded up to get Jordan Love as Rodgers’ heir apparent, so that’s got to factor in. Rodgers may ask for a new contract or a restructure, so we’ll see how that goes. Again, Rodgers most likely is staying but it’s not 100%.
No changes expected
Tennessee Titans. Ryan Tannehill is a clear franchise quarterback now which is kinda shocking considering how things didn’t work out in Miami both performance wise and health wise. Since taking over as starter midway through 2019 he has not missed a start and he’s quietly been one of the most productive QBs in the league.
Arizona Cardinals. Kyler Murray had a fleeting moment of MVP talk through midseason before the entire Cardinals team collapsed straight out of the playoffs. Murray is still nevertheless an electrifying quarterback on a rookie deal and Arizona has reason for optimism that they’ll be back in the playoffs with him under center.
Pittsburgh Steelers. Another one that’s a bit murky. The Steelers should clearly move on from Ben Roethlisberger seeing as his arm doesn’t work all that well and his maddeningly effective mobility is no longer a thing. Roethlisberger has not given any indication that he’ll retire after such a pitiful but also hilarious playoff exit. Buuuuuut if the Steelers want to cut him then good luck. With 2021 representing the end of his contract it’s most likely that Big Ben gets his swan song year but they look for his replacement anyway.
If you’re keeping score, the Seahawks have 14 different opponents out of next season’s potential 17-game schedule (13 out of 16 if the league pushes back 17 games to 2022). Only the Titans, Cardinals, and Steelers seem to have their starters in place come September. Everyone else has already changed quarterbacks, intends to change quarterbacks, or status is up in the air. This does not even factor in the inevitability of in-season replacements due to injury or poor play, which the Seahawks saw plenty of over the past two years.
Buckle up. It’s about to be one hell of an offseason.