2018 free agency: Breaking down a relatively deep QB class

Posted Mar 7, 2018

Cleveland could be in the market for a veteran signal-caller

It’s the most important position on the field, and this year, more than ever, it will be drawing plenty of attention when free agency opens one week from today.

The quarterback crop of 2018 isn’t just deep in the NFL Draft. This year’s free agency class features a larger number (than usual) of signal-callers capable of landing with a new team and starting Week 1.

The Browns, of course, are in a position to add experience and, under the right circumstances, a potential season-opening starter from this group.

“If we decide to go that route,” Browns general manager John Dorsey said last week, “I think we will be aggressive.”

Over the next week, we’ll be breaking down each position group as we countdown the days until the start of the new league year. What better place to start than under center?

Who’s back?

DeShone Kizer - 15 starts, 53.6 comp. percentage, 2,894 yards, 11 TDs, 22 INTs

Kevin Hogan - 1 start, 61.3 comp. percentage, 517 yards, 4 TDs, 5 INTs

Cody Kessler - 47.8 comp. percentage, 126 yards, INT

Top QBs available (Rankings from’s Top 101 free agents)

1. Kirk Cousins, Redskins

With Washington’s reported trade for Alex Smith set to be official at the start of the league year, Cousins is set to be somewhere else in 2018, and he’s expected to be handsomely rewarded in the process. Cousins threw for more than 4,000 yards in each of the last three seasons, including a 2016 Pro Bowl campaign.

2. Drew Brees, Saints

The future Hall of Famer has maintained he plans to stay in New Orleans, and there’s no reason to believe he won’t make good on that pledge.

8. Case Keenum, Vikings

The veteran journeyman is set to hit the market after his best season by a long shot. Playing in relief of an injured Sam Bradford, Keenum threw for 3,547 yards, 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions while leading the Vikings to an NFC North crown and a trip to the NFC Championship.

11. Teddy Bridgewater, Vikings

Once believed to be Minnesota’s franchise quarterback, Bridgewater could be headed elsewhere after missing most of the past two seasons with a severe knee injury. Bridgewater made the Pro Bowl in 2015 when he threw for 3,231 yards and 14 touchdowns.

12. Sam Bradford, Vikings

Yes, there are three Minnesota quarterbacks set to be free agents. Bradford, the former No. 1 pick, missed most of 2017 because of lingering knee issues. In 2016, he set the NFL record for accuracy (71.6 completion percentage) while throwing for 3,877 yards, 20 touchdowns and just five interceptions.

31. AJ McCarron - Bengals

After winning a grievance hearing against the Bengals, McCarron is set to be an unrestricted free agent and is poised to land somewhere he has a chance to start. He made the most of an opportunity in 2015 when Andy Dalton went down with a season-ending injury, as he led the Bengals to two wins near the end of the regular season and had Cincinnati in position to beat the Steelers in the playoffs.

45. Josh McCown, Jets

The former Browns signal-caller is coming off one of the best seasons of a career that began way back in 2002. Before a season-ending injury, McCown threw for 2,926 yards, 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions while leading the Jets to an unexpected five wins.

78. Colin Kaepernick

He was out of football all last season but continues to look for a landing spot. Kaepernick led the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and put up solid numbers the following two seasons.

101. Jay Cutler, Dolphins

Once retired, Cutler was a late addition to the Dolphins after Ryan Tannehill’s season-ending injury and went on to throw for 2,666 yards, 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. It’s unclear if Cutler plans to pursue another season.

Honorable mention: Blaine Gabbert, Mike Glennon

What about the draft?

With the first and fourth pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Browns are poised to take the best player at the position, if they so choose. Dorsey has said “four or five” quarterbacks in this year’s class are worthy to be discussed as potential No. 1 picks. That group, in theory, includes USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Wyoming’s Josh Allen, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson. It’s certainly conceivable that Cleveland will address the quarterback position both in free agency and early in the draft.

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