Every season, players and coaches are under pressure of losing their starting position, or face being replaced at seasons’ end. Quarterbacks are no exception. In 2019, these QBs are the ones whose days are numbered.
1. Andy Dalton
For years now, the question has been asked as to whether Andy Dalton can take the Cincinnati Bengals over the hump. Although he has taken them to the playoffs, they are yet to win a playoff game with him at the helm. Furthermore, with his best season coming in 2015 and three consecutive losing seasons since, the Bengals may wish to look elsewhere if 2019 doesn’t pan out.
On top of that, the Bengals replaced 15-year Head Coach Marvin Lewis with Zac Taylor, the former Quarterbacks Coach with the Los Angeles Rams. Taylor was seen as an innovator on Offense, and was hired to get the most out of Dalton. However, if Dalton has already shown his best, he may not get another chance. The roster is prime for blowing up and starting fresh, and Dalton would likely be a casualty of that process. Although he would quickly be picked up by someone else, his fortunes as a franchise QB are in the balance.
2. Marcus Mariota
Mariota has shown promise with the Tennessee Titans in his four seasons. But he hasn’t been consistently dominant enough to guarantee his status as the long-term answer. With one postseason appearance coming off a strong season, it’s clear Mariota has the tools to be more than a game-manager.
For Mariota, 2019 brings with it his final season under contract with the Titans, as his rookie contract expires. He is playing for his future as the starter there, as well as his next contract. Like Dalton, he would have a long line of teams wanting him as a potential starter or backup QB. But failing to secure another deal with the Titans most likely means Mariota’s time as a franchise QB is over.
3. Derek Carr
After signing a contract extension coming off his strong 2016 season where Carr took the Oakland Raiders to a 12-4 record and into the postseason, he hasn’t been the same. There was discussion of him being on the trade block with the arrival of Jon Gruden after the 2017 season. Now, in his second year with Gruden, the stars align for the Raiders to move on from Carr if he doesn’t perform.
As the Raiders have assembled most of what Gruden wants in his squad, QB could the final piece missing. Throw in the fact that after the 2019 season Carr’s cap hit is negligible, and he’s right in the firing line. Top it all off with the impending move to Las Vegas, and the Raiders may wish to look for a new face of the franchise to re-brand themselves with.
4. Philip Rivers
While Rivers will most likely be given the chance to play out his career with the Los Angeles Chargers, the team’s patience could be at an end. There was speculation he could be traded when the team was relocating. With a roster currently built to contend for Super Bowls, the front office may wish to do whatever it takes to get there, putting loyalty aside.
Rivers’ play hasn’t declined, but it could be a matter of time. Making the Divisional round of the playoffs last season would have renewed confidence in him. But don’t be surprised to see the Chargers pull the trigger on acquiring someone else if they think it will increase their chances of a Super Bowl win.
5. Joe Flacco
Flacco is most likely a placeholder at this point in his career. After being benched for Lamar Jackson in Baltimore during the 2018 season, Flacco was acquired by the Denver Broncos to be a starter. But when the Broncos drafted Drew Lock, it seemed to suggest Flacco was never the long-term answer.
Troubled by injuries for the past few years, Flacco will aim to take control of the QB position in Denver. Yet he faces one of the toughest divisions in the league. A successful 2019 will give him a chance to prolong his career. Anything less will make it hard for him to survive much longer in the league, especially as a starter.
6. Eli Manning
The writing seems to be on the wall for Eli Manning. He was benched in the 2017 season, and rookie QB Daniel Jones appears to be ready to step in if needed. There has also been a bit of a decline in his passing. With a weak New York Giants receiver corps in 2019, this could be further problematic for an ageing Eli.
If not for a strong sense of loyalty to their two-time Super Bowl winning QB, there is a good chance that Manning would have been shown the door already. It also doesn’t help that the fan base has been largely on his side too. But another losing season would be the final nail in the coffin for Manning and his time with the Giants.
7. Jameis Winston
Similarly to Mariota, Jameis Winston is in the final year of his rookie deal and is yet to prove himself capable of being the franchise QB. Surrounded by talent, the excuses are running out. Now, with Bruce Arians as Head Coach, Winston could be released if he doesn’t start to put it all together.
With just one winning season in his time in Tampa, Winston needs to prove he can elevate those around him. While the roster is far from complete, unless he shows better decision making and consistent play, he has little chance to remain into 2020. And with one of the most competitive divisions in the league, Winston is up against it in 2019.
8. Jimmy Garoppolo
While it may be unfair to put Garoppolo on this list, the San Francisco 49ers can only afford to wait so long. He has spent more time injured than on the field since joining in 2017. Failing to stay healthy in 2019 could cost him his place moving forward.
His contract after this season becomes less of an issue for the team. They haven’t had a winning season since their NFC Championship Playoff after the 2013 season. Head Coach Kyle Shanahan will also face some questions with another down season. Garoppolo is likely to be the scapegoat.