With the decreased NFL salary cap in 2021, it's extremely important for teams to find not just talent but value when filling out their rosters. Getting the most bang for the buck -- especially at the game's most important position -- is something every decision-maker prioritizes.
We've already seen a plethora of quarterback moves this offseason. There were trades: Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff swapped teams in a blockbuster deal, while the Eagles shipped Carson Wentz to the Colts. There were free agent signings: Ryan Fitzpatrick (Washington), Tyrod Taylor (Houston) and Andy Dalton (Chicago) are all headed to new cities. There were also players who stayed put with new contracts: Dak Prescott landed a massive deal with the Cowboys, Jameis Winston re-signed with the Saints and Cam Newton re-joined the Patriots for a second season.
Looking at all of the transactions made thus far, which offseason quarterback move will provide the most bang for the buck?
Charley Casserly: I'm torn here. Two years ago, Jameis Winston threw 33 touchdown passes. Unfortunately, he also threw 30 interceptions. But New Orleans is convinced it can cure that. Winston's had a lot of good coaches who haven't been able to limit the turnovers. But for a base salary of $5.5 million in 2021, he is a bargain as a starting quarterback with his ability, especially when you consider the players around him and the Saints' coaching staff.
However, I have my eye on another former No. 1 overall pick. Matthew Stafford is the best quarterback on this list, and though the Rams are paying him $20 million-plus per year over the next two years, Stafford's experience and talent should take this offense to the next level. Simply put, the Rams will get the most bang for their buck.
DeAngelo Hall: Cam Newton. Hands down. We're talking about a guy who's going to get to throw to a pair of stud tight ends (Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry), exploit mismatches with the Patriots' improved roster and ultimately play 11-on-11 football with designed runs. For backup money! The fact that the Patriots aren't paying Newton $20-30 million is the reason they can go out and WIN free agency.
Marc Ross: It's Jameis Winston. In his last season as a starter in Tampa Bay, what got lost in the negativity of his 30 INTs was that he eclipsed 5,000 yards and 30 touchdowns through the air. From the "QB moves" list this offseason, only Matthew Stafford and Ben Roethlisberger have accomplished this feat -- each has done it just once in their combined 29 years in the NFL. Having done something most others can't match, having received a year of tutelage under future Hall of Famer Drew Brees and Sean Payton, and having the support of a talented core from a 12-win Saints team, the 27-year-old passer can regain peak form as the starter. It's smart money to bet on Winston at just $5.5 million base salary.
Maurice Jones-Drew: When the Rams played the Packers in this past January's Divisional Round, Sean McVay saw what his system could be with a player like Aaron Rodgers. That's one of the big reasons why the trade for Matthew Stafford happened. As talented as Jared Goff is, he has limitations. Stafford has elite arm talent and the experience to put up points and go toe-to-toe with the top offenses in the league. Combine that with a dominant defense, and the Rams could once again become Super Bowl contenders.