By: Ian Evans (Twitter: @ianacevans)
Could a Play-off Team Trade Up For a QB?
Week 17 is almost upon us, meaning that many playoff-hopeful teams are still jockeying for a spot in the playoff picture. Throughout the season we have seen franchise quarterbacks such as Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, and Josh Allen, light up opposing defenses.
All of these quarterbacks were drafted by teams who moved up from their original draft positions to draft them. Some quarterbacks like Kyler Murray, Sam Darnold, and Baker Mayfield were a top priority for the teams they were drafted by. However, trading up for a quarterback is a high risk-high reward. Trading up can either significantly help or stall a team’s progress.
In the 2017 NFL Draft, the Bears traded up to draft North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky with the second overall pick. He hasn’t quite panned out as well as the Bears hoped as he was benched for Nick Foles earlier in the year. But who was picked after Trubisky? Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes. In last year’s draft, we saw the Green Bay Packers trade up to the 26th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft to pick Utah State quarterback Jordan Love. This pick came as a surprise to many as the Packers needed more depth in the wide receiver position to help Aaron Rodgers.
With the 2020-2021 NFL regular season coming to an end, there are many teams who should probably consider trading up to draft a franchise quarterback. There are a plethora of college quarterbacks who can be game-changers and franchise for teams in desperate need of one. There are other star college quarterbacks besides Trevor Lawrence who could be worth trading up for. Ohio State’s Justin Fields, Florida’s Kyle Trask, BYU’s Zach Wilson, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, and Alabama’s Mac Jones could be worth the risk. There are many teams who missed the playoffs that could use a change of scenery at quarterback to take them to the next level.
1. New England Patriots
If there is any team that should explore trading up for a quarterback its New England. It’s safe to say that the Cam Newton experiment didn’t work. In his first year, and potentially final year as a New England Patriot, Newton struggled severely.
So far he has thrown for a completion percentage of 65.4% which is 21st among quarterbacks. He has also thrown for only 2,415 yards (26th), 10 interceptions (13th), and has the sixth-worst QBR in the league at 45.1. He also has thrown 5 touchdowns, which is tied 37th with San Francisco 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard and recently cut Washington Football Team quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
His touchdown percentage is also dead last in the NFL at 1.5%. That’s abysmal. Simply put, Cam Newton has had a rough year, and all signs point toward him being a backup quarterback in this league.
Replacing Tom Brady is no easy feat, but the 2021 NFL Draft could offer an opportunity for the Patriots to trade up for proper replacement. As of right now, the Patriots have the 15th pick in the draft.
There are many teams within the top ten who could be looking to trade out of those spots. Teams such as the Giants, Broncos, Bengals, and Falcons could be looking to trade out of their respective spots if they don’t see a prospect worth trading for. Keep a close eye on the Patriots as draft talk and rumors heat up.
2. Washington Football Team
Many saw this season as a chance for Dwayne Haskins to make a leap and solidify himself as Washington’s quarterback of the future.
Haskins did the exact opposite as he was cut Monday afternoon by the teams for multiple reasons. From breaking COVID health and safety protocols to being benched multiple times throughout the year, Haskins had a year to forget. He was benched for Kyle Allen, Alex Smith, and practice-squad quarterback Taylor Heinicke in Week 16.
Haskins has the worst quarterback rating in the league at 30.7, threw only 5 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions. He only averaged 205.6 yards per game while having a completion percentage of 61.4% which is the fourth worst in the league.
Haskins is out, meaning that Washington is left with Alex Smith, Kyle Allen, and Taylor Heniecke. Alex Smith is still a solid starting quarterback, but the injuries have clearly taken a toll on him.
The 36-year old is nearing retirement as well. He also hasn’t done that much better than Haskins, throwing for 4 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, as well as having a QBR of 35.7. Kyle Allen is a decent backup quarterback at best and should not be starting for any NFL team. And Taylor Heinecke is merely a practice squad quarterback. With this being said, they are in need of a franchise quarterback.
However, Washington still has a chance to win out in the abysmal NFC East and make the playoffs. But no matter what outcome their season has, they should still draft up to take a quarterback.
A young quarterback with potential should be leading this young team lead by Chase Young, Terry McLaurin, and Antonio Gibson in the future. North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance is a name that has been mentioned as a prospect that could slip outside the top 15. If Washington wants to prioritize getting a quarterback that can help bolster their offense, they could trade up and take a chance on a young college star instead of signing a free-agent quarterback.
3. Indianapolis Colts
This one could come as a surprise to many fans. It’s a long shot but it could happen. Why? Phillip Rivers could retire after this season and Jacoby Brissett is simply not a starting quarterback. If Rivers does decide to retire after his one-year deal, the Colts would be in desperate need for a quarterback.
Rivers has had a good year thus far. He has a completion percentage of 68.2% (eighth in the league), 4,005 yards (ninth in the league), 23 touchdowns (15th), and 10 interceptions (T-10th). Besides significant help from a top five defense in the league, Rivers has still provided the veteran leadership the Colts needed. The Colts are currently 10-5 sitting at the eighth seed in the AFC playoff picture. Whether they make the playoffs or not, they could be eying quarterbacks in the offseason.
If it’s one thing the Colts haven’t had, it’s a mobile, dual-threat quarterback. As great as Peyton Manning and Phillip Rivers have been in their illustrious careers, they were never known as a quarterback that could beat you with their legs. With one of the best offensive lines in the league, as well as many weapons such as T.Y. Hilton, Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines, and Michael Pittman Jr., a young dual-threat quarterback would make them less one-dimensional. The Colts could be a team that surprises the league once the draft comes.