A flurry of less-than-enthralling story lines involving NFL quarterbacks came daily as the preseason wound down and the Road to Minneapolis and Super Bowl LII heated up …
... Blake Bortles, still looking lost in Year 4, will start in Jacksonville. … Rookie DeShone Kizer, 21, wins the job in Cleveland. … Trevor Siemian is the man in Denver. … Ditto the Jets’ Josh McCown. … Chicago’s Mike Glennon, 5-13 in his career, will make his first start in three years. …
… Buffalo’s Tyrod Taylor is out of concussion protocol but being pressed by rookie fifth-rounder Nathan Peterman. … Houston’s Tom Savage will make his third career start. … Indy oddly underestimates Andrew Luck’s recovery time from shoulder surgery and ends up starting Scott Tolzien, whose career highlight is a second-half rally to tie Christian Ponder four years ago in Green Bay. … San Francisco’s 31-year-old journeyman Brian Hoyer still is starting in what’s now his sixth NFL stop in the past seven seasons. … Training wheels are still firmly attached to the Rams’ Jared Goff as last year’s No. 1 overall pick hopes to improve upon his 0-7 record. ...
Enough. Stop. Uncle!
My goodness. No wonder the Lions recently made Matthew Stafford the highest-paid player in the league. Stafford isn’t the best quarterback, but Detroit must have looked around and realized that a $135 million contract wasn’t such a bad idea for a good quarterback with instincts, moxie and a cannon arm that Mike Zimmer won’t soon forget.
And, hey, the Browns are now paying Brock Osweiler $15,225,000 to return to Denver as its No. 3 quarterback. Yes, Houston paid Cleveland a second-round pick to take Osweiler’s contract in the spring. Then Cleveland cut Osweiler, who then returned to Denver, where the Broncos only have to pitch in $775,000 of the $16 million guarantee.
Naturally, the, um, deflated quarterback market helps the Patriots. Not only do they have the best No. 1 quarterback in Tom Brady, they also continue to make other teams believe their backups will hold their value once they leave the lot in New England.
The Patriots wouldn’t part with young, raw Jimmy Garropolo early this offseason. But when they really needed another receiver to replace injured Julian Edelman, they traded the younger, rawer Jacoby Brissett to the Colts for Phillip Dorsett, a first-round draft pick two years ago.
But desperation for a QB is rampant. It’s enough to make a football fan pray that Brady (40), Drew Brees (38), Ben Roethlisberger (35), Aaron Rodgers (33) and, yes, Eli Manning (36) never stop loving the game.
But it’s not all gloomy at the position. The NFC South, for example, has Brees, the past two league MVPs (Matt Ryan and Cam Newton) and rising star Jameis Winston.
There’s Russell Wilson in Seattle and Derek Carr in Oakland. Marcus Mariota is on the rise in Tennessee, Carson Wentz is looking good in Philly and Dak Prescott is looking for a way to top one of the most pleasantly surprising seasons in the history of rookie quarterbacks.
Of course, other question marks linger.
Can Jay Cutler — he of the one career playoff victory — handle the pressure of leaving the TV booth for a familiar system on a Miami team built to make the playoffs this year?
Is Kirk Cousins overrated (42 interceptions in 41 starts) or worth all this fuss every year?
Is 37-year-old Philip Rivers finished?
Can Joe Flacco really be an effective starter after missing the entire offseason, training camp and preseason? Or will we see Ryan Mallett here soon?
And, finally, will Sam Bradford be given enough protection to turn his quarterback-of-the-present status into a contract befitting Minnesota’s quarterback of the future?
Who knows how things will turn out. But as the Road to Minneapolis begins to unfold, it’s obvious why the Super Bowl LII favorites are led by guys with names such as Brady, Roethlisberger, Rodgers, Ryan, Manning and Wilson.
Mark Craig is an NFL and Vikings Insider. Twitter: @markcraigNFL