It’s really hard to become a successful NFL team if you don’t have a good quarterback. That’s why you see most teams around the league invest heavily in the position. That doesn’t mean that every team heads into the 2019 season with the right guy projected to start under center.
The following five guys really need to be looking over their shoulder when the regular season starts. They represents the most likely quarterbacks to be benched this year. Not coincidentally, each of their five teams is probably looking at a losing record.
5. Derek Carr
Any quarterback working for Jon Gruden will always experience some degree of uncertainty. Carr is absolutely the most talented quarterback on Oakland’s roster, but if the Raiders stumble out of the gate it’s easy to envision Chucky making a change under center.
The only reason Carr isn’t higher on this list is the lack of quality options behind him on the depth chart. Neither Mike Glennon or Nathan Peterman is going to emerge as a potential franchise quarterback for the Raiders. That might be enough to keep Carr safe this season, but don’t expect him to be the team’s starter when they debut in Las Vegas in 2020.
4. Joe Flacco
Flacco’s time as the Broncos starter is certainly numbered. The presence of first round pick Drew Lock behind him on the depth chart means he’s just a stop gap. The question is when Lock will get his chance to take over the Denver offense.
The short answer to that query is whenever the team falls out of playoff contention. Given the reality that both the Chiefs and Chargers have better odds than the Broncos to win the division, that’s likely to happen relatively early in the 2019 regular season. Flacco might survive for eight games, but Lock is going to get a long look down the stretch.
3. Marcus Mariota
Mariota is different than the first two guys we’ve talked about because his front office desperately wants him to be the team’s franchise quarterback. The problem with Mariota is that he hasn’t played that way since the Titans invested a first round pick to acquire him.
That, combined with the team’s decision to sign backup Ryan Tannehill as his backup in the offseason puts the former Oregon star in a very precarious position. Tannehill isn’t a long-term solution for Tennessee, but he could easily come in and spark this offense if it gets stuck in the mud with Mariota at the controls.
There’s also a significant chance that Mariota suffers an injury that gives Tannehill an opportunity to come in and steal his job. Add it all up, and this is one of the least stable quarterback situations in the NFL.
2. Eli Manning
Giants leadership have gone to great lengths to insist that Eli Manning will be the team’s starting quarterback in 2019. That’s all well and good, but spending a first round pick on Daniel Jones sent a very different message to the team’s rabid fan base.
In other words, Manning’s job will be in jeopardy the minute his performance starts to falter. That probably won’t take too long. Manning has been a great quarterback for the Giants during his career, but he’s simply not that good anymore.
Pat Shurmur and company are going to do everything they can to keep Manning on the field, but at some point they’ll feel compelled to see what Jones can do. That might not happen until late in the season, but New York will head into 2020 with every intention of starting Jones under center. This will be Manning’s last ride in the Big Apple barring an amazing career renaissance.
1. Whoever starts for the Redskins Week 1
At the moment, it’s unclear which veteran quarterback will begin the regular season as the Redskins’ starter. The team seems determined to give either Colt McCoy or Case Keenum the nod over rookie Dwayne Haskins.
Neither McCoy or Keenum has a legitimate chance to keep Haskins on the bench for a full season. The Redskins aren’t going to be a playoff team which means at some point, they’ll need to turn their attention to getting ready for 2020. The moment they make that decision, Haskins is going to get every practice and game snap he can handle.