In the next few years, we’re going to see some of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history say good-bye.
Tom Brady is 42, Drew Brees 41, Philip Rivers 38, Ben Roethlisberger 37 and Aaron Rodgers 36. Matt Ryan is about to turn 35. Eli Manning is 39 and has already announced his retirement.
Brady, Brees, Roethlisberger and Rodgers are Hall of Fame locks, and Manning, Rivers and Ryan will probably get there, too.
Those seven quarterbacks all rank among the top 11 in NFL history in touchdown passes, and they’ve combined for 240 miles of passing yards. Five of them have won Super Bowls, and four of them have won multiple Super Bowls.
And they’re all nearing the end.
We’re going to see a dramatic changing of the guard among NFL quarterbacks the next couple years, and the teams that are able to identify and develop young elite quarterbacks are going to be the teams that have a chance to contend for championships in the wide-open post-Brady decade.
Howie Roseman saw this coming in 2016 – what he calls the “graying of the quarterback position” – and made it a priority to find his way up to No. 2 in the draft to take Carson Wentz.
The injuries remain an issue. Wentz hasn’t finished a season since his rookie year. Hasn’t survived a playoff game.
But that doesn’t change the fact that the Eagles are one of the few NFL teams that doesn’t need to go into free agency or the draft worried about the QB position.
Let’s take a look:
In 2019, 17 quarterbacks who’ll be 28 or younger this season started at least eight games. This next wave of NFL quarterbacks is led by Super Bowl MVP Pat Mahomes and regular-season MVP Lamar Jackson.
The top echelon isn’t very big but includes Dak Prescott, DeShaun Watson and Wentz.
Jared Goff didn’t have a good season, with 22 TDs and 16 interceptions, but he’s only 25 and did get the Rams to a Super Bowl in 2018, so he belongs in the conversation.
Jameis Winston is 25 and passed for 5,000 yards but also threw 30 interceptions, has a 28-42 career record, has never reached the playoffs and might not even be a starter in 2020.
Jacoby Brissett is 27 and had OK numbers in a difficult situation but had just four TD passes in the Colts’ last nine games and likely won’t be starting in 2020 either.
Marcus Mariota is an interesting one. He’s still only 26 but really has been average since his big 2016 season.
Teddy Bridgewater is 27 and was very good going 5-0 in place of Drew Brees this year. But elite? Nah.
Kyler Murray, Daniel Jones, Drew Lock, Josh Allen and Sam Darnold have all done some impressive things. They’re all 22 or 23 and can blossom into elite QBs. They’re not there yet.
Mitch Trubisky? Baker Mayfield? Gardner Minshew? Nobody considers them elite.
Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa? Maybe. We’ll see.
There are six active QBs under 28 who’ve made Pro Bowls, reached the playoffs and have winning records and career passer ratings over 90.
Mahomes, Jackson, Prescott, Watson, Wentz and Goff.
Wentz just turned 27 and until he finds a way to have a healthy, successful postseason he’ll always have that hanging over him.
But it’s hard to argue with 97 touchdowns, 35 interceptions, 64 percent completion percentage and a 92.7 passer rating after four seasons.
Would you rather have Mahomes? Sure. Would you rather have Jackson? Maybe, although who knows how long he’ll survive playing the game the way he does. Would you rather have Watson or Prescott? You can make a case, although I wouldn’t. Goff? Nope.
The first few years of his career have been filled with December and January disappointment, but get him some weapons, keep him healthy, and there are very few quarterbacks in the world you'd rather build a team around than Carson Wentz.
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