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Helmet-to-Helmet: Suitors and likely landing spots for free-agent quarterbacks

The NFL QB carousel is intriguing and unpredictable. 

Lila Baltaxe | Senior Graphic Artist

Each year, after the Super Bowl ends the season, speculation begins on free agents in the most important position of football. 

This year is no different, with signal-callers such as Kirk Cousins and Baker Mayfield set to hit the market as free agency begins on March 13th. 

Where each of the next five QBs ends up is anyone’s guess, but here’s where I could see these guys play in 2024. 

The first name I’ll discuss is arguably the hottest commodity available, and that’s Cousins. A player who’s ranked number 2 on Pro Football Focus’ top free agent rankings, the Vikings’ offensive leader inked a one year, $35 million dollar extension in March 2022. 

Last year came to an abrupt and unfortunate ending, as he tore his achilles in Week 8 vs the Green Bay Packers. But in those first eight games, he looked great throwing the ball and was statistically competing with the league’s best. 

Regardless of where Cousins goes, my guess is that he will be paid a pretty penny.

Cousins will want to win now, so he’ll stick to a familiar system with the white and purple of the Vikings, especially considering he might feel as though there’s unfinished business there with the injury. 

Ryan Tannehill is in an interesting situation. He was in a year-long battle for the starting job with rookie QB Will Levis, but it looks like the Titans’ future rests on the Kentucky alum. 

The team could bring him back for a year to continue his mentorship, but at 35 years old, his best football is probably behind him. The only team I see him getting a chance with is Pittsburgh, who doesn’t seem sold on Kenny Pickett. 

He would be reuniting with Offensive Coordinator Arthur Smith, and with a ground game and exterior weapons, Pittsburgh could make noise in a fierce AFC North.

As far as former Heisman trophy winner Baker Mayfield is concerned, like Cousins, I struggle with the idea of him playing anywhere but Tampa Bay. 

The team just re-signed wide receiver Mike Evans and they are poised for another solid year in a weak division under Todd Bowles. 

In what some consider an overachievement, the Bucs knocked off the Eagles in last year’s Wild Card round. Mayfield’s play was a big reason for that and the Bucs’ success in general, as he posted career highs in completion percent, passing yards and TDs thrown. In what seems like a resurgence arc for the former No. 1 overall pick, Baker wants to run it back in Tampa.

Moving onto a guy who might have the best mustache in the league, and definitely plays with some swagger on him—Garner Minshew. He showed that he can handle a starting role, as he led the Colts to a 9-6 record in games he started. 

Given we know his limitations as well, he’d be a reliable option to backup quarterback Anthony Richardson and stay in Indianapolis. 

Ultimately, I believe his skill set fits the description of a “bridge” QB, which is why I see the Patriots as a dark horse candidate should the Colts not bring him back.

To wrap things up, this last player isn’t a free agent. But this offseason the Bears will most likely draft a generational talent in USC’s Caleb Williams with the No. 1 overall pick, which would in all likelihood mean Justin Fields gets shipped.

I only see two legit fits on this one, and the first one is once again Pittsburgh. 

Fields would have a good running game to fall back into and a great vertical threat in George Pickens. The issue with going to Pittsburgh is financial, as the Steelers would only have him for one year before the player option, and currently have only 8 million dollars of cap space. 

That’s why I believe the Atlanta Falcons will sweep in and give Fields a new home for years to come. 

One of the more underrated defenses in the league welcomes in head coach Raheem Morris. 

With a bunch of playmakers on offense like Bijan Robinson, Kyle Pitts and Drake London, Fields would have a chance in redeeming himself and finally catch up to expectations. 

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