NFL media got an opportunity to talk with coaches and GMs on Tuesday at the combine which means there were plenty of inquiries into quarterback situations. We heard thoughts on Cam Newton, Jameis Winston, Derek Carr, Mitchell Trubisky and others. Before free agency and the draft, we can’t believe everything we hear from coaches and general managers, but we can also infer a few things from what might be shades of truth.
First off, Cam Newton looks like he will remain a Panther. Ian Rapoport reports that the team plans on holding onto him and one reason might be that his trade value is just too low, as his injured foot likely won’t be game-ready until May or June and teams will want to have their starting quarterback locked up at that point. Newton just isn’t coveted, even when healthy, at this point in his career.
New head coach Matt Rhule, later in the day, praised Newton and says he wants him on the team, but wouldn’t commit to him as the starter, but noted that he’d probably say the same about any player.
The Panthers are in rebuilding mode, but also have talent enough to win games. That’s a tough position to be in. Newton is most-likely their best option, but do they want their best option? If they could get a first-round pick for him, they’d do it in a heartbeat, but that isn’t going to happen. Newton will probably end up playing for Carolina at least one more season and if he can stay healthy and gain some trade stock, they will likely get what they can for him before 2021.
Trying to decipher Bruce Arians’ commitment or lack thereof to Jameis Winston is a tough ask at this point. He continues to pointedly criticize Winston to the media but says they can win with him. Then he says that Winston is an “unknown quantity to me, still.” Arians also said that the team won’t commit to anything until they see who is available in free agency. Then, Arians went on NFL Network and told Andrew Siciliano that they know exactly what they are doing at the quarterback position, but that Winston does not know their plan. Okay?
In the end, it looks like the Buccaneers will probably keep Winston, but don’t seem to have any qualms with moving in another direction if the right opportunity pops up.
Mike Mayock spoke to reporters on Tuesday and gave Derek Carr a lot of support, saying he is pleased with his play, but wouldn’t commit to him completely, reiterating that he will always evaluate and try to improve at every position. Depending on your feelings about Carr, you can take exactly what you want from his remarks.
The Raiders probably aren’t going to ever go deep in the playoffs with Carr behind center, but with every choice, teams must weigh the positives and negatives. Carr is good enough to keep the Raiders in the hunt and Patrick Mahomes isn’t sitting outside their facilities wanting to sign a deal.
Another quarterback who hasn’t shown enough to want to keep around long term is Mitch Trubisky. Bears GM Ryan Pace was asked about Trubisky’s status with the team and he said, “To be clear, yes…we believe in Mitch. Mitch knows he needs to be better. We need to also be better around him, and that’s our goal.” He added that he wants Trubisky to feel like he’s competing for his job, but wants every player to feel that way.
In the end, the Bears don’t have a good replacement for Trubisky, but will likely bring somebody in either through the draft or free agency to at least give him a little heat. At this point in the offseason, I wouldn’t expect Pace to tip his hand if he was looking to replace Trubisky via trade or free agency, so his commitment to his quarterback likely goes as far as his ability to get someone better that fits under the cap.