The world is a scary and evolving place at the moment.
We all need to remain vigilant to keep ourselves, our families and our greater community safe from COVID-19.
But, we also need hope, joy and passion – and for me, the NFL delivers on some of that desire.
So, naturally, the opening of NFL Free Agency was like Christmas morning.
Much of the news centred around the quarterbacks. Mainly because that’s how it always goes in the NFL but this time it was far more intense and intriguing because some of the names being bandied around.
Here’s a look at the QB Carousel and which fit could bring about a Super Bowl ring.
TOM BRADY – TAMPA BAY
This was the big one. The 20-year New England Patriot departs the dominance of Foxborough to complete his GOAT career elsewhere.
Los Angeles was mooted, as was Indianapolis whilst many thought he’d remain in Massachusetts. Few considered Tampa a real option.
By going to the Buccaneers, Brady receives huge advantages on what he has had recently with the Pats.
Mike Evans is an All-Pro receiver regardless of who throws him the rock. He’s impossible to cover in the red zone thanks to his size and catch radius in traffic.
Chris Godwin developed into one of the premier deep threats in football last season and OJ Howard is a specimen of a tight end who is improving continually.
Ronald Jones’ game continued to develop as well at running back.
TB also gets great coaching on the offensive side of the ball. Bruce Arians has had success all across the NFL with quarterbacks. Big Ben, Peyton and Carson Palmer all shone under the guidance of Arians.
The weather could also favour the 43-year-old Brady. Sure, part of the challenge of facing the Pats in Foxborough was the cold but anyone in their right mind would prefer the sunny tropics of Florida.
Brady gets 2-years at $30m, which is pricy but everything else in place for the Bucs to make a run at a home Super Bowl – and that would be some story.
Coaching: 4/5 – Bruce Arians has worked closely with Big Ben, Peyton and Carson Palmer and is an offensive force. TB will thrive off that.
System / team mates: 4/5 – Two elite receivers, two excellent tight ends.
Intangibles (weather, stadiums, schedule, division): 4/5 – Warm weather, a handful of indoor road games and a division ripe for the taking.
DREW BREES – NEW ORLEANS
This was never really a story despite Brees saying he was considering retirement. Brees’ comments may have been fuelled by emotion after the Saints shock playoff exit after losing at home to Minnesota.
He returns to a loaded squad, led by an offensive guru – but now they have Tommy Terrific to deal with twice a season.
Coaching: 3 – Sean Peyton has a 60% winning strike rate and a ring in NOLA, but he needs to squeeze more juice out of his team to make the jump.
System / team mates: 4 – Kamara needs to return to his best but Mike Thomas gives Brees more than enough playmaking prowess, plus Sean Peyton remains.
Intangibles: 3 – Will the fire burn bright in New Orleans after at times looking like the best team in football only to bow out in the opening week of the playoffs ?
TEDDY BRIDGEWATER – CAROLINA
Teddy Bridgewater was a competent starter in Minnesota when his knee collapsed at practice and almost ended his career in the NFL.
Last season, he stood in for Drew Brees and led the Saints to a 5-0 record as the starting QB. Former Saints and LSU offensive wizard, Joe Brady, is now in Carolina and he and Bridgewater will renew acquaintances.
Giving Teddy $20m per season means Cam Newton will not be returning to the Panthers and it’s hard to see this as a move up at the position, dependant on Newton’s health.
Coaching: 3 – Matt Rhule takes over in Carolina so anytime a new coach is installed, uncertainty swirls. A big factor in the Bridgewater signing would be offensive coordinator Joe Brady’s acquisition who has history with Teddy in NO.
System / team mates: 2 – Bridgewater is not a superstar QB, he will need excellent offensive weapons and a great system to work within.
Intangibles: 2 – The Brady-Bridgewater combination could be excellent but as it stands, Carolina are arguably the No. 4 seed in its division.
MARCUS MARIOTA – LAS VEGAS
The former Oregon superstar fell away badly in Tennessee and was usurped by Ryan Tannehill, who led the Titans to a Conference championship.
Mariota was a No. 2 overall pick and many believe he is still a starting calibre QB.
He may get the chance to challenge Derek Carr for the lead role in Vegas with a relocated franchise in a shiny new stadium in a big, glitzy city… not quite the fit for the uber-shy kid from Hawaii.
Coaching: 3 – Jon Gruden loves Mariota, but he also loves Derek Carr. It’s an interesting situation worth following as to who actually wins the job – or if there is even a battle going on.
System / team mates: 12 months ago, Antonio Brown was expected to lead this offence but we all know how that played out. Mariota – or Carr – will need help to be successful.
Intangibles: The move to Vegas could reinvigorate the team and give them momentum, perhaps under a new QB.
RYAN TANNEHILL – TENNESSEE
Tannehill’s play demanded a big deal. His play was excellent in Tennessee but much of it was complimented by Derrick Henry and the defence. Or maybe Henry and the D was complimented by Tannehill.
Anyhow, the Titans went all in and gave the former Dolphin $30m per season in a deal that I think they’ll eventually regret.
A franchise tag seemed worthy here but I am not the GM in Nashville.
Coaching: 4 – Mike Vrabel led the Titans to almost the promised land last season and the team grew legs once Tannehill took the reins.
System / team mates: 3 – The Titans built something special and strong last season. A run first and second and sometimes third down offence with a few deep shots thrown in.
Intangibles: 4 – This team clearly plays hard for Tannehill and Vrabel. As long as there’s no ill-feeling from Henry and his franchise tagging, this team should be even better next season.
PHILIP RIVERS – INDIANAPOLIS
Rivers has had a remarkable career but is he a better performer than Jacoby Brissett? His 2019/20 campaign was littered with turnovers and bad plays saved for rookies so Rivers will need to rebound hard to lead a talented roster to the playoffs.
Coaching: 2 – Nothing really jumps out about the Colts coaching, or the franchise as a whole to be blunt but that’s how they’re built. Low key, hard working, gritty. Sounds just like their new quarterback.
System / team mates: 2 -We’ll see what else the Colts can put around Rivers, which is something they struggled to do with Andrew Luck at the helm.
Intangibles: 3 – Rivers inspires his team mates with his will and passion but that can only go so far when the losses pile up.
CAM NEWTON – TBC
Newton is an NFL MVP. He’s a transcendant talent but injuries may have caught up with his style of play. He is an enormous man but he crashes into even bigger men on the regular. Shoulder surgery is the main worry.
Should Newton return to full health, teams have to jump from trees to sign him.
Chicago, Denver, Miami, New England, Washington and the Los Angeles Chargers could all do worse than consider CN1.
JAMEIS WINSTON – TBC
Someone takes a chance on Winston. No doubt!
Miami could sign him and give him the starting job until Tua Tagovailoa is ready to start – presuming Miami are not insane and in fact draft him.
Chicago could bring him in to challenge Mitch Trubisky but that seems unlikely and it’s been widely reported the Chargers are not interested despite not having a starting QB.
Winston is an enigma. He scores the ball but he gives it away with scary regularity. Where he lands is now the major QB storyline alongside Cam Newton.
Others in the market for a new team;
Andy Dalton, Nick Foles.