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Our predictions for where 5 NFL quarterbacks in limbo will land

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Cam Newton, Jameis Winston, and Andy Dalton are among the available quarterbacks. What’s next for them?

Artwork of QBs Cam Newton and Jameis Winston shaking hands, superimposed on a black and white background with a white border
Cam Newton and Jameis Winston will both be playing for new teams in 2020.

During the 2020 NFL free agency period, we’ve seen a number of quarterbacks who will continue their careers elsewhere. Tom Brady left New England for Tampa Bay, Philip Rivers is heading to Indianapolis, and Marcus Mariota landed with the Raiders.

Although most of the big-name guys have found a landing spot, there are still a few quarterbacks who haven’t been picked up just yet. Let’s take a look at five of them — whether they’re free agents or not — and predict where each one might end up next.

Cam Newton

Newton’s time with the Panthers ended on a sour note. First, he called Carolina out on Instagram after the team announced it was granting him a trade, insisting he didn’t want to be traded. He was released by the Panthers less than a week later.

Newton passed a physical before his release, and if he’s healthy, he is still a starting quarterback in this league. He’s just 30 years old and is one of the best dual-threat QBs the NFL has ever seen. He holds the record for rushing TDs by a QB, with 58 so far in his career.

Prediction: New England Patriots

After losing Brady in free agency, New England’s quarterback room consists of Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer, and Cody Kessler. The Patriots could also draft a quarterback in the first round, like Utah State’s Jordan Love.

Newton would be a big upgrade over any of them. He has playoff experience, leading the Panthers to four postseason appearances and one Super Bowl. He could give the Pats some extra playmaking ability with his legs, which they didn’t have with Brady. OC Josh McDaniels could find some new creative ways to add Newton’s skills to their playbook.

Trading for Newton would have been too expensive, so New England might have been waiting for him to become a free agent (and until the team doctors can examine Newton themselves). The Patriots don’t have much cap space, but restructuring some contracts would free up some money.

Jameis Winston

Winston was the No. 1 overall pick in 2015, but his career didn’t quite pan out for him in Tampa. During his five seasons with the Bucs, he threw 88 interceptions and fumbled 50 times, while compiling a 28-42 record as a starter.

He also led the NFL in passing yards last season and has shown flashes of being a successful quarterback, making him the most risk-reward player left in this free agency. He’s best at throwing long passes in tight windows.

Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars traded away Nick Foles to Chicago, leaving Gardner Minshew as the starter and Joshua Dobbs as the backup. Winston, despite his turnover issues, is a better and more experienced quarterback than both.

Jacksonville will likely want to see what it has in Minshew, though. As a rookie, he started off hot early when he came in for an injured Foles in Week 1. In the first five weeks of the season, Minshew threw nine touchdowns and just one interceptions, and had an average passer rating of 105.6. He started to regress in the middle of the season, however, and he was benched when Foles returned. Minshew eventually replaced Foles again and finished the season 6-6, with 21 touchdowns, six interceptions, and a 91.2 passer rating.

If Minshew doesn’t prove to be the Jags’ QB of the future, having a veteran like Winston to lean on would be a good backup plan. His strong arm would also complement Jags wideouts DJ Chark Jr., Chris Conley, and Dede Westbrook. Not to mention, this would mean Winston can stay in Florida, where he’s been since the start of his college career.

Andy Dalton

The Cincinnati Bengals will end up drafting quarterback Joe Burrow at No. 1 overall. So it’s no surprise the Bengals have already been willing to work with Dalton on a trade. Dalton is set to make $17.7 million in 2020, which is the last year of his Cincinnati contract. The Bengals can try to trade Dalton to a team willing to take on some of that remaining salary, keep him as an expensive backup, or release him.

Last season, Dalton was benched on his birthday after Cincy’s 0-8 start, but his career hasn’t been a complete failure. He had a winning record in his first five seasons with the Bengals and took them to the playoffs four times. He was even playing at an MVP level in 2015 until a thumb injury derailed his season.

Prediction: New York Jets

Right now, the Jets’ quarterback room is pretty young. Sam Darnold is entering his third year as the starter, and the only other quarterback on the roster is Mike White, another member of the 2018 draft class.

In his rookie year, Darnold sat out three games due to a foot injury. Longtime veteran Josh McCown, who helped serve as a mentor, filled in for Darnold. Last year, Darnold missed three games due to his mono diagnosis and subsequent enlarged spleen. In his stead, the Jets relied on Luke Falk and Trevor Siemian, both of whom are no longer on the team.

If Dalton ends up in New York, he could be a valuable resource for the 22-year-old Darnold like McCown was. Perhaps more importantly, he could be a proven starter off the bench if Darnold gets injured again.

Joe Flacco

Flacco was waived by the Broncos at the start of the new league year with a failed physical designation. Last season, he was placed on injured reserve due to a herniated disc in his neck. Flacco went 2-6 as Denver’s starter before his injury, and he threw for just six touchdowns and five interceptions. The Broncos are moving forward with Drew Lock, who went 4-1 over the last five weeks of his rookie season.

It’s been a tough couple of years for Flacco, to say the least. He dealt with a hip injury in 2018 and was usurped as Baltimore’s starter by future NFL MVP Lamar Jackson. The Ravens traded Flacco last offseason. and the Super Bowl MVP 47 was released roughly a year after he was signed.

Prediction: Unsigned

Due to the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, the NFL has decided to suspend physicals during free agency. The fact Flacco has already failed a physical and would have to wait to be examined by a new team makes it unlikely he’ll be signed anytime soon.

Flacco is 35 years old too, and there are plenty of younger quarterbacks available both in free agency and in this year’s draft class. Don’t be surprised if Flacco is unemployed at the start of 2020.

Josh Rosen

Rosen’s NFL career hasn’t exactly gone as planned. After getting drafted at No. 10 overall by the Arizona Cardinals, Rosen went 3-10 as their starter in 2018 and was traded to Miami during the 2019 draft. With the Dolphins, Rosen started three games over veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, but Fitzpatrick took the job back after Rosen’s two-pick, five-sack outing against Washington in Week 5.

The last time Rosen saw the field was in Week 10, when Fitzpatrick was briefly evaluated for a concussion. In six games in 2019, Rosen completed just 53.2 percent of his passes and threw one touchdown and five interceptions.

Prediction: Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins haven’t said much about Rosen recently. It’s no secret that Miami will draft a quarterback (Tua Tagovailoa, most likely), and Fitzpatrick has already turned down retirement to come back for the second year of his deal with the Dolphins.

So where does that leave Rosen? There just really isn’t a market right now for him. But he’s only due around $2.2 million in 2020, so keeping him wouldn’t cost Miami much. Plus, having Rosen as a backup regardless of who starts in 2020 isn’t a terrible option to have.