By Bruce Penton
The old adage of not being able to tell the players without a program might be true for National Football League quarterbacks if and when the 2020 season gets going.
Never before has there been such a tumultuous shakeup at the QB position during an NFL off-season and with the coronavirus putting a huge question mark above the NFL logo, teams haven’t felt an urgent need to settle their roster at the most important position on the team.
Would you believe a quarterback who’s only 30 years old and was the NFL’s most valuable player in 2015 still hasn’t found a job? Would you believe a quarterback who led the NFL in passing yards last season is still on the unemployment line? Those two ‘would-you-believes’ are: 1. Cam Newton, released by the Carolina Panthers, who picked up Teddy Bridgewater from New Orleans and handed him the starting job; and 2. Jameis Winston, whose more than 5,000 passing yards for Tampa Bay Buccaneers were tops in the NFL last year. He also tossed 30 TD passes but had 30 interceptions. Some writer smarter than me said Bucs’ coach Bruce Arians wouldn’t commit to Winston for 2020 until he “looked behind Door No. 2” and when he did that he found No. 12 — legendary 42-year-old Tom Brady. See ya’ later, Jameis.
Newton and Winston will likely wind up on NFL rosters this summer, while a handful of other QBs will be introducing themselves to new team-mates. No. 1 draft pick Joe Burrow, the Heisman Trophy winner from LSU, will be the starting QB for Cincinnati Bengals, meaning veteran Andy Dalton will either serve as backup or change his zip code. Philip Rivers, forever a Charger in his 16-year NFL career, will now be guiding Indianapolis Colts, meaning Jacoby Brissett, who held down the starting job for Indy last year after Andrew Luck’s surprising retirement, will be relegated to No 2, or sent packing. Another star college quarterback, albeit with health question marks surrounding him, Tua Tagovailoa, is expected to be a high draft pick, possibly by Miami, which might send Ryan Fitzpatrick onto the ‘for sale’ heap.
Teams without a clear No.1 starting QB include the Chargers, who are moving on from Rivers, and the Patriots, who will give a couple of unproven youngsters a chance to be the new Brady. Jacksonville Jaguars are putting their complete faith in Gardner Minshew, who took over from the injured Nick Foles last year. Foles has since been traded to Chicago, where he will compete with Mitch Trubisky for the No. 1 job.
Quarterback in the NFL is a well-paying job, but as is clear from this off-season, there are few guarantees of steady, uninterrupted employment. Except if you’re 42, a legend, and married to a supermodel.
• Bob Molinaro of pilotonline.com (Hampton, Va.): “The Taiwan Chinese Professional Baseball League is beginning play without people in the seats. The Rakuten Monkeys, however, have dressed up 500 robot mannequins as fans and placed them around their stadium. I wonder, can they do the wave?”
• Headline at TheOnion.com: “Quarantined umpire cleans his entire home with tiny brush.”
• Texas pro Mancil Davis, who has 51 career holes-in-one but has gaps in other parts of his game, especially off the tee: “I hit my irons like Doug Sanders, and my driver like Colonel Sanders.”
• Bob Molinaro again: “I began social distancing years ago when somebody would approach and try to tell me about his fantasy football team.”
• Late-night funny guy Conan O’Brien, lamenting New York’s new mask policy: “Yeah, everyone has to wear a mask. The players on the New York Jets said, ‘That’s OK, we’re used to hiding our identity.’”
• Omaha comedian Brad Dickson: “There may not be football this fall but if you’d like to move to Florida WWE wrestling is considered essential.”
• Dickson again: “The Tour de France has been postponed. Apparently due to supply chain issues the riders have been unable to get their performance enhancing drugs.”
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