Over the next several months, the rosters of all 32 teams will begin to take shape for the 2020 season. In this series, NFL.com writers and analysts look at the best players available via free agency or the NFL draft at the following positions: quarterback, running back, wide receiver, defensive back and pass rusher. Today, David Carr looks at the top 10 quarterbacks worth pursuing.
Drew Brees' announcement Tuesday morning, which ultimately conveyed that he would be returning to play the 2020 season with the New Orleans Saints, put a wrench in my rankings. I know he technically hasn't signed an extension yet, but he's not playing anywhere but NOLA. He's still able to do everything Sean Payton needs him to from a decision-making standpoint, and while his physical traits aren't what they were five or six years ago, he hasn't dropped off like others have at the end of their careers (see: Peyton Manning).
I'm looking forward to watching Brees make another run at his second Lombardi Trophy. Until then, let's look at my top 10 QBs worth pursuing this offseason.
1) Tua Tagovailoa, draft prospect
IF Tua continues to stay on track with his health -- like his most recent CT scan on his fractured hip revealed -- I have no doubt that he's the best quarterback of this group right now. He's a solid pocket passer and an elite scrambler. I've seen him extend plays with his legs but also make them with his arm when scrambling, by keeping his eyes down the field. He plays a lot like Russell Wilson. Tua has an explosive lower body, near-perfect mechanics in his throwing motion and a super-quick release. He has the tools to make some dynamic plays and elevate any offense. The one question is his health.
2) Dak Prescott, free agent
For the record, I think the Dallas Cowboys should've extended Prescott a long time ago. He's not the problem. He's your solution. Dak just had the best season of his career in yards per attempt (8.2), total passing yards (4,902) and passing TDs (30), finishing in the top five in the NFL in several major categories. Prescott showed a lot of consistency throughout 2019 and proved he can be clutch when he needs to be.
3) Joe Burrow, draft prospect
I haven't always understood the hype surrounding Burrow. I mean, it's not like he's flashy like Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson. In fact, before the national championship game, I text scouting expert Daniel Jeremiah to see what the fuss was about. DJ replied, "He won't miss a throw all day." And he was right. Burrow might not be as dynamic as some other quarterbacks, but he's excellent at processing information, getting the ball out quickly and throwing an incredibly accurate ball. Per Pro Football Focus, the LSU product was the most effective passer among 79 qualifying FBS quarterbacks when under pressure (17 TDs, one INT and 66.4 completion percentage), and he threw the most touchdowns (16) on tight-window passes.
4) Teddy Bridgewater, free agent
Bridgewater showed me a lot when he stepped in for an injured Drew Brees last season. The five starts he made (Weeks 3-7) were his first real string of games since the knee injury that nearly ended his NFL career. People may not think playing for Sean Payton -- and on an uber-talented and established offense -- is pressure-packed, but it is. If the Saints end up dropping several of those games, those losses go on Teddy. Fortunately, Bridgewater didn't skip a beat and won all five games. During that span, in which he was top 10 in many QB metrics, he convinced me that he still has the goods to be an NFL starter and can be the reason a team wins.
5) Tom Brady, free agent
Brady is coming off one his worst statistical seasons in some time, but it's hard to knock the guy when you look at what he was working with. Turning 43 years old in August, Brady still has all the intangibles, from his leadership skills to his knowledge of defenses. I would bet that there isn't a defense Brady hasn't seen after two decades of NFL quarterbacking. As far as his physical abilities are concerned, he has limited mobility but is still a great pocket passer and gets the ball out extremely fast. With a solid supporting cast around him, Brady could make most teams automatic contenders. Organizations don't have to wonder if Brady has it. We know he does.
6) Jordan Love, draft prospect
I've been watching Jordan play football since he was about 10 years old, and he's always been naturally talented. I'd even say his skill set exceeds everyone on this list except for Tua. The 6-foot-4, 223-pound quarterback has a strong arm, good mechanics, a high football IQ and -- similar to Patrick Mahomes -- he doesn't have to be technically perfect because his raw ability is through the roof. His ceiling should be enticing for teams searching for a franchise QB.
7) Justin Herbert, draft prospect
Herbert (6-6, 227 pounds) is a big, strong and athletic QB who has a lot of upside. He's the type of player who could go in, learn the entire playbook and do anything physically. Herbert enjoyed a fine senior season -- also taking home MVP honors at the 2020 Senior Bowl in January -- and is gaining a lot of attention as we get further in the pre-draft process. The one concerning thing about Herbert is he's a little inaccurate, which is one thing that is hard to improve at the next level against better competition.
8) Marcus Mariota, free agent
It certainly wasn't an ideal year for Mariota, as he was benched for Ryan Tannehill after a 2-4 start. Consequently, I know you're wondering why Tannehill is below Mariota on this list. I've touched on this several times this year, and it's because I don't believe Mariota has been utilized in the correct way during his time in Nashville. Mariota was often used in the West Coast offense or a variation of it, but he's a spread quarterback who thrives when he's able to use his legs. Instead of setting him loose as a runner, the Titans made a concerted effort to prevent the injury-prone Mariota from taking big hits. If the former Heisman winner signs with a team that is dedicated to maximizing his skill set, Mariota has a real chance to turn things around.
9) Ryan Tannehill, free agent
On top of logging career highs in completion percentage (70.3), TD-to-INT ratio (22:6) and passer rating (117.5), Tannehill helped lead the Tennessee Titans to the AFC Championship Game after taking over for a benched Mariota midway through the season. The 2019 Comeback Player of the Year made some big plays under pressure and proved that he can still be a starter in this league. If you learned anything from watching Tannehill play in Tennessee last season, it should be that team fit really does matter for players. Tannehill was in a great situation for his skill set and thrived.
10) Philip Rivers, free agent
Rivers is as competitive as they come and I know he wants to keep playing, but there were some major red flags last season. His 23 passing TDs were his fewest since 2007, and his 20 interceptions were tied for second-most in a season in his career -- and that included nine in the fourth quarter alone. According to Next Gen Stats, Rivers went from finishing fifth in passer rating when not under pressure in 2018 to 17th in 2019 (87.9). At this point in his career, I'm not sure how much the 38-year-old pocket passer will elevate an offense.