These NFL teams have the most to gain from competent quarterback play

These NFL teams have the most to gain from competent quarterback play

There are more ideal landing spots for QBs than there are ideal QBs for landing spots — but that’s always the case

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New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh
New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh
Image: Getty Images

This is pretty self-explanatory, so I’ll make it quick because you have slides to scroll through, and I have better things to write than clickbait. It feels like a lot of NFL teams with a franchise guy under center have fewer blue chips players than most of the squads in search of a QB, which leads to trade rumors like the one that sent Russell Wilson to Denver, those currently engulfing Aaron Rodgers, or the ones that’ll inevitably surface about Tom Brady.

So without further yammering, here are the teams who have everything in place to be a contender except for a quarterback.

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San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco 49ers

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Kyle Shanahan’s (above) system is as close to a sure thing as you can get in the NFL. Toss in Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, and the rest of the skill players, and it’s easy to see why there’s always a dialog about who’s getting all those guys the ball.

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49ers (cont’d)

49ers (cont’d)

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The issue is what to do about Brock Purdy and Trey Lance. Jimmy Garoppolo is almost certainly gone, but judging by this season, the team should be carrying at least three options under center at all times, and maybe some yet-to-be-named journeyman gets a look this offseason.

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New York Jets

New York Jets

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The fact that the Jets are the leaders in the Aaron Rodgers sweepstakes tells you all you need to know about the level of talent on both sides of the ball in New York. They have the likely offensive and defensive rookies of the year — Garrett Wilson (pictured) and Sauce Gardner — and that’s even after their most explosive newcomer, running back Breece Hall, tore his ACL.

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Jets (cont’d)

Jets (cont’d)

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The Jets’ coffers are so laden with talent that people are willing to overlook the whole “They’re the God Damn Jets” aspect of all this.

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Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons

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While the Falcons probably have the most deficient defense of any team on this list, what they do have is the only coach to ever turn Cordarrelle Patterson (pictured) into a productive NFL player.

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Falcons (cont’d)

Falcons (cont’d)

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Due to the receiver-turned-utility player’s emergence, and rookie running back Tyler Allgeier’s season, the Dirty Birds were a top-three rushing team in 2022 with Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder under center.

When you factor in the other skill weapons on the team — Drake London and Kyle Pitts (pictured) — a capable quarterback could thrive in Atlanta.

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Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers

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The Panthers were among a trio of NFC South teams (all of which are on this list) that couldn’t catch Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who won the NFC South at 8-9. Running back D’Onta Foreman (pictured) came on strong in the second half of the season for Carolina, and the team seems to have a solid foundation to grow on.

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Panthers (cont’d)

Panthers (cont’d)

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They just hired Frank Reich (pictured), who by all accounts knows how to put together an offense. Unfortunately, he was stuck on the washed-up quarterback carousel in Indy for the past few years, and that’ll continue unless they trade up or bring in someone who’s not unequivocally washed.

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New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints

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I know Sean Payton is on his way to Denver, but the Saints are still only a couple of years removed from a 12-4 season. They hit on the Chris Olave (pictured) trade from last year’s draft, and the defense was a top-six unit in yards allowed in 2022. I know Alvin Kamara sunk a bunch of fantasy teams this season, yet he still amassed nearly 1,400 yards from scrimmage.

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Saints (cont’d)

Saints (cont’d)

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New Orleans flipped the culture under Payton (pictured), and the fact that they’re on this list a year after he left and two years after Drew Brees retired is a testament to what Denver’s new coach built there.

All they need is a QB —but of course, I know how much easier it is to say that than to fix it.

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Washington Commanders

Washington Commanders

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This is new territory for the Commanders. Usually, they’re down with the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets as the NFL’s resident laughingstocks. The team was able to finish .500, despite a 17-game schedule (8-8-1), and that’s with arguably their best defensive lineman, Chase Young, only seeing the field three Sundays due to injury.

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Commanders (cont’d)

Commanders (cont’d)

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Rookie running back Brian Robinson Jr. (pictured) was a welcome surprise, and Terry McLaurin tallied another 1,000-yard receiving season. If the Commanders kept the ship afloat with Taylor Heinicke and Carson Wentz, imagine what they could do with a real quarterback — or, for that matter, owner.

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Indianapolis Colts

Indianapolis Colts

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This is all dependent on the Colts hiring a coach not named Jeff Saturday (pictured). Indianapolis was more competitive in their first nine games than their final eight, which makes it hard to determine how stocked the cupboards actually are. Jonathan Taylor followed up his 1,800-yard season with an injury-altered 800-yard year, so take that however you want.

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Colts (cont’d)

Colts (cont’d)

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The largest X-factor, and the reason why Reich is now coaching Carolina, is the Colts started a combination of the corpse of Matt Ryan and Sam Ehlinger under center. The team stands to make significant strides with a competent signal caller. (Unless, again, they hire Jeff Saturday.)

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Tennessee Titans

Tennessee Titans

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Ryan Tannehill’s 2022 season was validation that the team made the right decision to draft a replacement. It’s just that Malik Willis isn’t anywhere near ready to take over the QB1 role. I’m not sure what the motivation was for firing GM Jon Robinson midseason, but the A.J. Brown contract negotiation/subsequent trade was rumored to be the main issue.

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Titans (cont’d)

Titans (cont’d)

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Debatable No. 1 wideout aside, Tennessee has multiple things going for them, including a great head coach in Mike Vrabel and the one-man running game of Derrick Henry (pictured). A solution at quarterback would go a long way toward building on the culture that’s been constructed over the past few years.

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