Links to similar discussions on other positions:
Looking ahead at contract situations is an important dynasty strategy. Free agency, salary cap cuts, and extensions can all have a significant impact on dynasty valuations. This article looks at the quarterback position.
2018 Quarterback Class
The 2021 and 2022 offseasons are a big watch for the 2018 first-round quarterback class. Four quarterbacks are, by extension, watches from the class: former MVP Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield, and Sam Darnold.
All four players have had their fifth-year options picked up by their teams, with Josh Rosen the only 2018 first-round quarterback not to have his fifth-year option picked up. The historical odds of a first-round quarterback getting a long-term extension is less than 50%, and this class has the opportunity to pass the historical rate. Allen’s ascendence puts him and Jackson in the top tier of the 2018 quarterbacks.
The Baltimore decision is interesting. Given truth serum, their forward-leaning analytics-friendly organization would say they would like more out of the passing game. However, if Lamar Jackson cannot elevate the passing game, the Ravens will be in purgatory in the AFC with a high-powered Patrick Mahomes II offense looming for the foreseeable future.
Allen’s breakout in 2020 was enormous. Within six months, the conversation around Allen turned from him potentially losing his job to becoming an MVP candidate. As a result, Buffalo may want to wait another year to extend Allen to confirm his future looks like the 2020 version instead of prior iterations.
Mayfield is another tier down from Jackson and Allen. The question with Mayfield will be, can he elevate the Cleveland offense? If he cannot, this is a dangerous contract situation. Darnold is essentially a scrap heap-type investment. He is favorably thought of around the league but has struggled to date. His contract is guaranteed through 2022 but would not preclude Carolina from entering the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes if he is available and Darnold falters.
Other potential starter contracts
Tyrod Taylor signed a one-year deal with the Houston Texans this offseason. He is potentially in a prove-it type scenario if Deshaun Watson misses time because of legal problems or is traded. Rookie Davis Mills could also see an opportunity if Houston falters early this season.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is a 2022 free agent. At his age, retirement is possible, but with a strong 2021 season, he can play Washington into the playoffs and out of the range where they can draft a quarterback in the 2022 draft, essentially guaranteeing himself a job if he wishes to continue his career. Taylor Heinicke is under contract for 2022, but if Fitzpatrick plays well and Washington is in the playoffs, he could play them out of the ability to address quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Andy Dalton signed with the Chicago Bears assuming he would be the starter in 2021 on a one-year prove-it type deal. Chicago then traded up in the draft for Justin Fields, which likely puts Dalton into the free agency landscape next season, where he will hope for another prove-it type deal. Dalton should be treated as a backup fringe player at this point in dynasty leagues, with the hope he sees starts going forward, more than depending on him to start in 2022.
Ben Roethlisberger is in the final year of his contract. He missed much of 2019 with an elbow injury and struggled at times in 2020. So Pittsburgh had little choice but to run it back with him in 2021. Pittsburgh has Mason Rudolph on contract through 2022, but he is unlikely a 1A option for the Steelers in the post-Ben era.
Teddy Bridgewater was traded from Carolina to Denver and could potentially win the starting job in Denver over Drew Lock. However, he is a free agent in 2022 and will need a strong 2021 season, with an improvement in touchdown rate, to factor in another Week 1 opportunity in 2022.
Jameis Winston should get the opportunity to win a starting job in New Orleans. Of the non-2018 rookies, Winston has the best chance to be a long-term high-end starter of any quarterback on this list. Minimizing turnovers while maintaining his per pass production will be critical.
Cam Newton struggled in 2021 after his midseason diagnosis with COVID-19. He has struggled as a passer throughout his career, so expecting a big jump forward is a stretch. Nevertheless, he may get an opportunity to win the 2021 Patriots starting job and prove he can start before he enters free agency in 2022. However, Newton could easily lose the job to Mac Jones and be without a clear road to a starting job in 2022.
Potential Cap Cuts
The selection of Trey Lance was the beginning of the end of the Jimmy Garoppolo era in San Francisco. The 49ers could save more than 23 million dollars in salary cap by cutting Garoppolo this year, or more than 26 million dollars in cap savings if cut in 2022. The 49ers have a championship-caliber roster, so keeping Garoppolo as insurance on Trey Lance’s development when there is little the 49ers can use their cap space on at this point in the calendar could be the more prudent play. Garoppolo could be a better version of Teddy Bridgewater on the market in 2022.
Derek Carr has no more guaranteed money in his contract and has about a 20 million dollars in cap hit in 2022. If Carr is cut, the Raiders will save his entire 2022 cap hit. If the Raiders look to move on from Carr in pursuit of another quarterback like Aaron Rodgers or Deshaun Watson, Car should have an attractive tradable contract as he currently has only the 15th-highest cap hit for QBs in 2022.
Indianapolis could save 5 million dollars in cap space in 2022 by cutting Carson Wentz. With no further guarantees in his contract after 2022, Wentz is playing for his job this season. If he falters, Jacob Eason is a deep monitor in Superflex leagues.
Marcus Mariota and Mitchell Trubisky are both free agents in 2022. However, if they get an opportunity to start in 2021 because of injury or poor performance, they could play themselves into a starting opportunity similar to how Teddy Bridgewater did with the 2019 Saints.