Published On: Mon, Apr 23rd, 2018

6 teams that need to start grooming a young QB

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The 2018 quarterback class is widely considered one of the best, deepest, and tightest in recent years.

A handful of teams will be vying to position themselves properly to select one of Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, or Baker Mayfield in the top 10, while teams picking in the middle or end of the first round will be happy to end up with Lamar Jackson or Mason Rudolph, who may need just a little longer to become the franchise quarterbacks teams desperately seek.

For six other teams with the benefit of already having a face-of-the-franchise player under center to start in 2018 and for the foreseeable future, the need is a little less dire. These six teams don’t need to expend the resources on this year’s top quarterback prospects, but they should be looking to address the position a little later on, and have those prospects learn from the current starter.

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers aren’t as desperate to find an heir to their prize from the 2004 draft as the New York Giants (who are believed to be eyeing a QB with the No. 2 overall selection), but Los Angeles shouldn’t be too far behind with Philip Rivers being just 11 months Eli Manning‘s junior.

Related: Rivers unfazed by Chargers potentially drafting QB: ‘It’s inevitable’

Rivers will carry cap hits of $22 million and $23 million in 2018 and 2019, respectively, in the final two years of his current deal. He’ll turn 37 years old prior to the end of the 2018 season, but he’s coming off his fifth consecutive season of more than 4,200 passing yards, and his 10th straight year with at least 26 touchdowns.

The Chargers hold the draft’s No. 17 pick as well as selections in each of the following six rounds. They may feel a need to prepare a younger face of the franchise in order to compete with the Los Angeles Rams‘ aggressive offseason of retooling in the battle for Los Angeles’ attention.

New Orleans Saints

Drew Brees re-upped for the 2018 season with a team option for 2019 following the Saints‘ surprising appearance in the divisional round of the 2017 playoffs. It’s unknown if a run to Super Bowl LIII and a storybook ending would tempt him to go out on top.

The Saints signed former Houston Texans Week 1 starter Tom Savage as a backup in free agency, but the fourth-round pick of the 2014 draft is already 27 years old and has shown little hope he can lead a team for a full 16 games (or more).

Giving their own first- or third-round quarterback choice (they don’t own a second-round selection) a likely two seasons to learn from Brees would help replace draft position with learning experience. Another veteran could be signed to serve as a placeholder in 2019 should Brees seize the potential chance to sail out into the sunset as a champion.

New England Patriots

The Patriots traded away two starting-quarterbacks-in-waiting last season in Jacoby Brissett and Jimmy Garoppolo. Tom Brady went on to win the MVP at age 40, showing the time had been right to cash-in on the two up-and-comers.

Thirty-two-year-old Brian Hoyer returns for the 2018 season as the only other quarterback on the roster. While he’s a capable backup in the event of a Brady injury, the Patriots would be better off having him help mentor Brady’s successor.

Equipped with two first- and two second-round draft picks, there has been plenty of talk of the Patriots potentially moving their way up the draft board to select whichever of the top QB prospects falls to the right spot. Should they stand pat, Rudolph could be there guy.

Cincinnati Bengals

The jury will be out on Andy Dalton over the next three seasons, as the 30-year-old can be cut after the 2018 campaign at no cost to the team in dead cap space. Dalton’s play has been trending down in recent years and the seven-year veteran is yet to win a playoff game, having made his last appearance in 2014.

AJ McCarron had been under tutelage as the backup, but he was granted free agency this offseason and took an opportunity to compete for the Buffalo Bills‘ starting job.

The Bengals already traded down in the first round and are currently in possession of the No. 21 pick, but they’d be wise to upgrade Matt Barkley as No. 2 on the depth chart should head coach Marvin Lewis finally determine that he needs to move on from Dalton.

Baltimore Ravens

Joe Flacco recently said he’s not worried about the Ravens drafting a quarterback, something they’ve done only twice since Flacco was taken with the 18th pick of the 2008 draft. Neither Tyrod Taylor nor Keith Wenning remain on the roster entering Flacco’s 11th season.

The Ravens brought Robert Griffin III back to the NFL after the oft-injured veteran took the 2017 season off. It remains to be seen if he’ll be able to make it through training camp at full health.

Flacco is 33 years old, and while declining production is more a result of the pieces around him than his own deterioration, the Ravens could add a younger QB in the middle rounds to grow with the team during these rebuilding years in Flacco’s post-prime.

Atlanta Falcons

Drafted in the same year as Flacco, Matt Ryan will turn 33 in mid-March. Just one year removed from an MVP season and a trip to Super Bowl LI, he clearly has several more top seasons left to provide the Falcons.

But Ryan is entering the final year of his contract in 2018. While he and the team continue to give every indication that a long-term pact will be agreed upon before he’s allowed to reach the free-agency rumor mill, having a high-upside alternative could provide the team with some leverage in its attempt for a friendly contract.

An upgrade on 36-year-old Matt Schaub as the backup is essential in the event of Ryan missing any amount of time.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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