Quarterback Changes Aplenty from 2016-2017; More to Come in 2018

By Chris Malumphy

Ten NFL teams changed their primary quarterback (the passer with the most attempts for the team) from the 2016 to 2017 seasons, some by choice, the others due to injury. Thus, nearly a third of the league had significant changeover at the games most important position. Only two of the ten teams ended 2017 with above .500 records. Both had Case Keenum in common. The Rams moved away from Keenum who was their primary passer in 2016 by turning the reigns over to Jared Goff. The Vikings added Keenum to the roster to backup starter Sam Bradford but an injury suffered in the season opener thrust Keenum into a starting role where he flourished.

The Jets, Rams, Bears, Texans, 49ers and Browns moved away from top passers in 2016 by choice after determining that Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum, Matt Barkley, Brock Osweiler, Colin Kaepernick and Cody Kessler were not the answer. The Rams, Bears, Texans and 49ers seem set going into 2018 with Goff, Mitchell Trubisky, the return of the injured Deshaun Watson and the mid-season acquisition of Jimmy Garappolo, respectively. The Jets, who merely stabilized their quarterback situation with the aged Josh McCown in 2017, and the Browns, who seemed to have missed the mark with rookie DeShone Kizer, are still looking.

Injuries forced changes for the Vikings, Dolphins, Colts and Packers. The Vikings fared the best when Keenum helped the team improve from 8-8 in 2016 to 13-3 and a playoff victory in 2017, but it doesn't appear to be enough to ensure his continued employment with the team as the Vikings appear to be willing to jettison both Keenum and Bradford if they can find anything better. The Dolphins, Colts and Packers were doomed when injuries hit Ryan Tannehill, Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler, Jacoby Brissett and Brett Hundley couldn't match their play, although Brissett displayed some promise.

NFL teams have come to realize that mediocre play at quarterback is not likely to lead to long term success or Super Bowl victories. The upcoming draft could witness four or more quarterbacks being taken in the first round, perhaps challenging the record set in 1983 when John Elway, Todd Blackledge, Jim Kelly, Tony Eason, Ken O'Brienand Dan Marino went in the first round with four of them ultimately playing in Super Bowls. Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen are all touted as first-round talents. Former Heisman winner Lamar Jackson and Mason Rudolph could easily join the mix with so many teams in need of good or young talent at the position including most of those who draft early in the first round. Teams in the hunt for quarterback talent undoubtedly include the Browns, Giants, Broncos, Jets, Cardinals, Bills, Jaguars and Patriots. Some are obviously more desperate than others. One thing that could limit the number of quarterbacks taken in the first round in 2018 is the abundance of free agents that will be on the market that could provide immediate solace to teams in need. Available quarterbacks could include: Kirk Cousins, Sam Bradford, Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater, AJ McCarron, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown, Chase Daniels and a host of other wannabes. The next two months have the potential to radically alter the league's starting quarterback lineup for a long time to come.

Quarterback Changes from 2016 to 2017
(QB with Most Pass Attempts)
JetsRyan Fitzpatrick40322827106.756.6121769.65-11-0 (0.313)Josh McCown39726729267.467.318994.55-11-0 (0.313)24.9
RamsCase Keenum32219622016.860.991176.44-12-0 (0.250)Jared Goff47729638048.062.1287100.511-5-0 (0.688)24.1
BearsMatt Barkley21612916117.559.781468.33-13-0 (0.188)Mitchell Trubisky33019621936.659.47777.55-11-0 (0.313)9.2
TexansBrock Osweiler51030129575.859.0151672.29-7-0 (0.563)Tom Savage22312514126.356.15671.44-12-0 (0.250)-0.8
VikingsSam Bradford55239538777.071.620599.38-8-0 (0.500)Case Keenum48132535477.467.622798.313-3-0 (0.813)-1.0
DolphinsRyan Tannehill38926129957.767.1191293.510-6-0 (0.625)Jay Cutler42926626666.262.0191480.86-10-0 (0.375)-12.7
ColtsAndrew Luck54534642407.863.5311396.48-8-0 (0.500)Jacoby Brissett46927630986.658.813781.74-12-0 (0.250)-14.7
49ersColin Kaepernick33119622416.859.216490.72-14-0 (0.125)C.J. Beathard22412314306.454.94669.26-10-0 (0.375)-21.5
BrownsCody Kessler19512813807.165.66292.31-15-0 (0.063)DeShone Kizer47625528946.153.6112260.50-16-0 (0.000)-31.8
PackersAaron Rodgers61040144287.365.7407104.210-6-0 (0.625)Brett Hundley31619218365.860.891270.67-9-0 (0.438)-33.6