A more mobile Peyton Manning. The next great franchise quarterback. A true freshman. A national champion.
All of those things have been said about Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence, the presumptive No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, has caught the attention of scouts and fans across the country.
The New York Giants are in desperate need of a future franchise QB. What are their chances of landing Lawrence in 2021? To answer that question, I will analyze each team’s quarterback situation and will separate the teams into groups based on the likelihood of each team to draft Lawrence.
We will start with the eleven teams who almost certainly will not need Lawrence in two years. The Philadelphia Eagles (Carson Wentz), Chicago Bears (Mitchell Trubisky), Los Angeles Rams (Jared Goff), Houston Texans (Deshaun Watson), and Kansas City Chiefs (Patrick Mahomes) all have quarterbacks who are currently in their second or third seasons. All of those signal-callers have improved throughout their first few seasons, and those teams will not be looking to replace their young franchise quarterbacks anytime soon.
The Green Bay Packers (Aaron Rodgers), Minnesota Vikings (Kirk Cousins), Atlanta Falcons (Matt Ryan), Seattle Seahawks (Russell Wilson), San Francisco 49ers (Jimmy Garoppolo), and Indianapolis Colts (Andrew Luck) all have veteran quarterbacks who are in their primes. Two years from now, those six quarterbacks will still be in their primes, so these six franchises will have no reason to go after Lawrence in 2021.
These teams are unlikely to be in need of a quarterback in two years. The Arizona Cardinals (Josh Rosen), New York Jets (Sam Darnold), Buffalo Bills (Josh Allen), Cleveland Browns (Baker Mayfield), and Baltimore Ravens (Lamar Jackson) all drafted quarterbacks in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Those five signal-callers achieved varying degrees of success in their rookie seasons, but there is no reason to think that any of their teams would already be thinking about finding a replacement.
The Dallas Cowboys (Dak Prescott), Detroit Lions (Matthew Stafford), Carolina Panthers (Cam Newton), and Cincinnati Bengals (Andy Dalton) have quarterback situations that are slightly more complex. At the moment, it seems that the Cowboys will probably give Prescott an extension because he has had three winning seasons in Dallas. Stafford is coming off of a bad year and has never won a playoff game, but he has brought stability to a franchise that desperately needed it. Newton has suffered several injuries and, despite being just 29 years old, may be on the downside of his career. However, he is a former MVP who played well in the first half of the 2018 season. Dalton has not been able to get the Bengals over the hump, but he at least helped them become semi-relevant for a few years.
This next group of teams may have a chance to land Lawrence, but they are not the top contenders. The New Orleans Saints (Drew Brees), New England Patriots (Tom Brady), Pittsburgh Steelers (Ben Roethlisberger), and Los Angeles Chargers (Philip Rivers) all have aging QBs who can still get the job done. However, two years from now, these quarterbacks may retire or may no longer be able to play at a high level. None of these teams currently have a future franchise QB on their roster. The only thing blocking these teams from having a path to draft Lawrence is that none of these teams are likely to be bad enough to get a top-ten draft pick. It is possible that one of these teams could give up multiple first-, second-, and third-round picks in order to move up to the top spot, but it is more likely that there will be a team in the top spot that will want to hold onto the pick and draft Lawrence.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Jameis Winston) and Tennessee Titans (Marcus Mariota) will have difficult decisions to make within the next year. Winston and Mariota were the top two picks in the 2015 NFL Draft, but both QBs have underachieved. Winston has never led the Bucs to the playoffs, and Mariota has dealt with various injuries and was unable to finish three of his four NFL seasons. In 2019, these two signal-callers will get one final chance to prove themselves. If they do not show marked improvement, then the Bucs and Titans will be looking for a new quarterback in 2020 or 2021.
Finally, here are the main contenders who will be losing for Lawrence.
The Washington Redskins are in a tough spot when it comes to the quarterback position. Alex Smith is under contract for several more seasons. Smith led the team to a 6-3 start in 2018, but he suffered a broken tibia and broken fibula in a game in November. It is currently unknown whether Smith will ever play in another NFL game.
If Smith is unable to play, then Washington will immediately be in the market for a starting quarterback. Based on recent history, it is not likely that the Redskins will draft a quarterback this season. It is more likely that they will make a move to acquire a veteran QB.
In all likelihood, the Miami Dolphins will be looking to make a change at the quarterback position in 2019. Ryan Tannehill has been there for seven years, but he has never appeared in a playoff game in his time in Miami. The team will be hiring a new head coach to replace Adam Gase, so it would make sense for the team to look to make a change at the quarterback position. The Dolphins have not had stability at the quarterback position since Dan Marino retired almost two decades ago. There is a good chance that whichever quarterback the Dolphins go with will not impress, which means that the team will once again be looking to add a quarterback in two years.
The Jacksonville Jaguars benched Blake Bortles in the 2018 season, and they could be looking to make a quarterback change in 2019. However, they signed Bortles to a four-year extension at the conclusion of the 2017 season, and the team is in a difficult spot with regard to the salary cap. The team’s big decision-makers, including head coach Doug Marrone and executives David Caldwell and Tom Coughlin, will get a chance to turn it around in 2019. The team has a solid defense, and based on the team’s personnel, it would make sense to add a veteran quarterback who would give them a chance to win big in the next two years. With the cap situation, though, that will be difficult to do.
The Denver Broncos signed Case Keenum to a two-year contract last offseason. After one year, it is safe to say that Keenum is not going to be in Denver for the long haul. The Broncos could draft a quarterback in 2020 if they decide to let Keenum walk in free agency, but they could also decide to acquire a bridge quarterback and wait until 2021 to get their guy.
The Oakland Raiders just hired Mike Mayock as their general manager. There is no telling what Mayock, who worked for NFL Network from 2004 to 2018, will do. Current starting QB Derek Carr signed a five-year extension a few years ago, but Mayock could decide to trade Carr to a desperate team. Carr is young and still has value despite two consecutive subpar seasons.
The Raiders have three first-round picks in 2019 and two more in 2020. They have more control over who their franchise QB will be than any other team in the league because they have enough draft picks to be able to move up and get a quarterback in the next few years. On the other hand, they could trade back and stockpile future picks for 2021 if they do not like any of the QBs in the next two drafts.
And that finally brings us to the Giants. No one knows for sure whether Eli Manning will be back next year, but it would be a mild surprise if he was not at least on the roster in 2019.
It would only be a mild surprise because general manager Dave Gettleman has cut ties with superstar players in the past. When he was the Panthers general manager, he decided to release wide receiver Steve Smith and running back DeAngelo Williams when they were still playing at a high level. He also rescinded the franchise tag offer to All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman after a contentious negotiation period. Gettleman is not afraid to make unpopular decisions, which is both a blessing and a curse for the Giants.
Gettleman has a lot of experience working as an NFL executive, but he has never been tasked with drafting a franchise quarterback. When he was named the GM in Carolina, Newton was already there. Gettleman was in the Giants front office when they acquired Manning, but then-GM Ernie Accorsi was the one leading the charge. There is no telling what Gettleman will do. He could fall in love with Dwayne Haskins or Kyler Murray in the next few months. He could decide to pass on those quarterbacks and could decide to take Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert in 2020.
In any case, if the Giants do not select a quarterback in the next two years, they will be in great position to have the top pick in 2021. If they continue to go with Manning, they will continue to lose double-digit games each season. Anything can happen in two years in the NFL. As it stands right now, it appears that the Giants are a contender in the battle for Lawrence.
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