Which Free Agent Quarterback was the best value?

With free agency beginning to wind down and just a few key pieces looking to secure their destination for 2020 it is time to start looking at which players have proven to be the best values so far. The logical place to start is with the free agent quarterbacks which was a position where we saw relatively little action in the end. 

With Ryan Tannehill being signed re-signed prior to free agency beginning and Dak Prescott receiving the franchise tag, there was only three or four star quarterbacks available on the open market. In this article we will include both Tannehill and Prescott as we break down the value of the main five contracts handed out so far.

5. Teddy Bridgewater | 3-years $63 million

Now this contract has the chance to be the best value of the lot if Bridgewater shows up. However, committing $33 million at signing to a quarterback who has thrown just 221 passes in since the end of the 2015 is an incredible gamble. His performances last season were solid, but he was not asked to do a huge amount by the Saints.

If we see the potential that Bridgewater displayed in his first two seasons play out then this deal could look an incredible value. However, right now, this deal has to rank as the worst of the lot. 


4. Dak Prescott | 1-year $28.7 million

If Prescott has a disastrous season in 2020 then not signing Prescott long-term at the price he seemed to be asking for will seem very smart. However, we have seen quarterbacks secure themselves lucrative long-term deals on these one-year prove it deals. If Prescott has a monster 2020 then the Cowboys could end up paying him over $40 million a year for four or five years.

Over the course of his four year career, Prescott’s performance have been consistent and impressive for a mid-round pick. Last season he was the third-ranked quarterback according to Pro Football Reference’s approximate value, and sixth by Pro Football Networks Offensive Share Metric. Based on those numbers the price of this one year is extremely good value, but the downfall could come in later years.

3. Tom Brady | 2-years $50 million

If the Buccaneers win the Super Bowl in the next two years then this deal is worth every penny. However, we saw Brady struggle in 2019, ranking 16th in PFR’s approximate value rankings and 29th by OSM. Those numbers do not suggest a quarterback who can elevate a team to the Super Bowl.

However, what Brady does offer is mistake free football. The Buccaneers have a ton of talent on their roster and Brady just needs to be competent. The problem comes if 2019 was a sign of what is left in Brady’s career and we see his decline continue in 2020. If that happens then the Buccaneers are stuck paying Brady another $25 million in 2021 and who knows what they may get then?

2. Philip Rivers | 1-year $25 million

The value here comes in the one year deal that offers no risk. If Rivers finds his old form 2018 form then he gives the Colts every chance of making a significant playoff run. If that happens then this deal will have been a huge success and the Colts can then decide whether to re-invest in 2021. 

However, if 2019’s struggles were the beginning of the end for Rivers then this one year gamble by the Colts will be something they can move on from quickly and painlessly. Even if he repeats his 2019 performance, that was still good enough to rank eighth by OSM and 12th by approximate value. This deal has a ton of upside and very little downside.

1. Ryan Tannhill | 4-years $118 million

To call this the best value is a big call given that we have really only seen bits and pieces from him in his career. However, when you look back through his career he has been reasonably successful in multiple seasons. This Titans offense may be the perfect type of offense for Tannehill to operate, with a run-first approach that he can then operate off the play action with his arm.

The other benefit to this deal is that there is two possible outs. If the first season is a disaster the Titans can take a massive cap hit in the second season to escape. The second option is they can ride it out through the third season and move on then, saving $27 million off the end of the contract.

Could there be a better value out there?

There are two big free agent options still available. Cam Newton has recently been released by the Carolina Panthers and his value is hard to judge given that we have not seen him fully healthy for a few seasons. 

If you look at both OSM and PFR, then the biggest value could be former-number one overall pick Jameis Winston. Winston ranked fourth in OSM and fifth in approximate value last season. However, he threw 30 interceptions last season so there is a lot of risk that comes with signing Winston.

Ben Rolfe

Head of NFL Content



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