NFL QB Carousel Unusually Crowded

Portugal remained neutral during World War II — and as a result, Lisbon became a listening post where rumors about everything from troop movements to possible peace negotiations could be heard. The city veritably crawled with journalists — and spies.

One does not have to go to Lisbon, or to any other city for that matter, to hear rumors about where NFL free agents might go once they are free to go anywhere, on March 18. A simple Internet connection will do just fine.

This year, though, is unusual, in that so many quarterbacks could be headed for teams other than those for whom they played in 2019.

In last week's column, the strength of Dak Prescott's case for demanding more money was analyzed — in Prescott's favor. A reference was also made to the Cowboys quite possibly signing the ageless one, Tom Brady, if Prescott does decide to leave God's Country.

But now a potential snag may have been hit — in the form of the Las Vegas (?) Raiders offering Brady a two-year, $60 million contract on Friday. This would in turn cause Derek "Dude, Where's My" Carr (where's Chris Berman when we really need him?) to hit the road (even though he is not a free agent, the Raiders must think he is easily movable; otherwise, they wouldn't be offering Brady such a big deal) for parts unknown (Miami? Maybe the Dolphins should have tanked last season — in which case they would be getting Joe Burrow).

And Tom Brady is not the only future Canton enshrinee in this year's free-agent class. The Chargers, never noted for their sentimentality, have already announced that they have future plans which do not include eight-time Pro Bowl guest Philip Rivers, who finished fourth in the 2019 passing yards derby. And Rivers, who turns 39 on December 8, helps give the 2020 free-agent QB market a decidedly older vintage, along with Brady, who has been named to the Pro Bowl 14 times, although neither made it this past year.

Marcus Mariota — who, unlike Carr, is a free agent — appears to be a dead letter in Tennessee, losing his starting job to 2019 Comeback Player of the Year Ryan Tannehill, an award Rivers won in 2013. Mariota's prospects of securing a starting job in 2020 are bleak, unless the Bears elect to unload the 222 pounds of dead weight that is Mitchell Trubisky (a cruel joke is that Trubisky is JaMarcus Russell without the purple drank).

One would assume that once the Bengals draft Burrow, Andy Dalton will be moving on (he has one year left on his contract, but it can presumably by bought out, and Cincinnati has nearly $45 million in cap space), quite possibly acquiring a taste for cheesesteaks as Carson Wentz's backup in Philadelphia, where Jeffrey Lurie and Howie Roseman finally appear to be ready to drain the swamp at wide receiver (one of the hottest rumors not involving a quarterback is that the Eagles will trade Alshon Jeffery to Buffalo; if that turns out to be true, Josh Allen had better watch his back).

The Eagles could also be interested in Carr or Mariota, as well (Josh McCown, to whom the Eagles had to turn after Wentz got cheap-shotted by Jadeveon Clowney in the playoffs, is retiring, possibly to an assistant coaching position with the team, while Nate Sudfeld — derisively nicknamed "Sudafed" — is pretty worthless unless you have a cold).

So any team that wants a veteran quarterback should have little trouble getting their hands on one — and after the Bengals nab Burrow, questions far outnumber answers at the position in the draft — Tua Tagovailoa's gruesome season-aborting injury leaves a bad taste in the mouth, and Justin Herbert was just 29-14 as a starter at Oregon, never led the Ducks to a berth in the FBS playoffs, and even missed the bowl games altogether once, raising serious questions as to how much of a "big-gamer" Herbert is.

When Jim Plunkett led the Raiders to victory in Super Bowl XV — and followed it up with another such victory three years later — he was referred to by some as "The Comeback Kid Who Was Never Away" (third team was the charm for the 1970 Heisman Trophy winner, who was drafted by the Patriots with the first overall pick in the 1971 draft, spending five years in New England and then two in San Francisco before signing with the Raiders in 1978 as a backup until Dan Pastorini broke his leg during Oakland's 1980 Week 5 loss at home to Kansas City, which made the Raiders 2-3, a start that Plunkett overcame to win the Super Bowl).

Maybe that appellation will be pinned on Carr, Rivers, Mariota, or Dalton?

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