The Best QB Battles to Watch in NFL Training Camp

By Akiva Wienerkur   June 28, 2021 

The Best QB Battles to Watch in NFL Training Camp

Every NFL team that brings in a new quarterback or two in the offseason enters training camp with hope for stability – or better – at the position. Several teams this offseason drafted, signed, or traded for new quarterbacks. A few of those moves – the Rams trading for Matthew Stafford, for instance – immediately solved who would be their starting quarterback.

But just because moves were made doesn’t necessarily guarantee the quarterbacking situation for these teams has stabilized yet. Here are five teams with interesting choices to make as the NFL odds situation begins to stabilize as the season approaches.

New Orleans Saints

Jan 3, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill (7) runs as Carolina Panthers outside linebacker Shaq Thompson (54) and defensive tackle Zach Kerr (92) and free safety Tre Boston (33) and defensive end Austin Larkin (96) defend in the fourth quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

No big deal here, someone is just going to have to replace a sure Hall of Famer and one of the best quarterbacks of all-time in the retired Drew Brees. Brees also brought a winning culture and credibility to a Saints franchise that had never had it in their history.

Both options for the Saints were on the roster last season. Jameis Winston, a former No. 1 overall pick, has had some exceptional moments in his career as a passer, mostly spent with Tampa Bay. He threw for 4,000 or more yards three times in his career, so he certainly has the arm strength to fit into the Saints’ pass-heavy offense. He only threw 11 passes last year backing up Brees, but he got a full season to learn the offensive system and he’s still just 27-years-old. The key for Winston is cutting down his turnovers, which were a constant issue for him in Tampa.

He won’t be without competition, though. Taysom Hill is certainly a non-traditional choice to be a full-time starter, but he’s been a fixture in special packages for the Saints due to his speed and athleticism. Hill is an unproven passer, though, so imagining him replicating Brees’ effectiveness throwing the ball is a longshot. Still though, expect him to continue to be a big part of the offense and see some time with Winston.

Denver Broncos

The Broncos may have their eye on a different option as they still may or may not be in the running to trade for Aaron Rodgers should Green Bay decide to move him.

But in the more likely event that doesn’t happen, the Broncos also acquired another quarterback via trade in the offseason in Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater is a respected veteran who started for Carolina last season. He completed 69 percent of his passes last season for more than 3,300 yards and 15 touchdowns on a Panthers team devoid of weapons. Bridgewater could see his numbers jump with a more talented Denver offense around him.

Bridgewater will be trying to win the job from incumbent starter Drew Lock. Lock has shown occasional flashes of competent play, but he’s completed less than 60 percent of his passes in his career and had 16 touchdowns with 15 interceptions last season.

Bridgewater represents an upgrade at the position, but Lock is still young enough where he could win the job if he improves.

New England Patriots

The Patriots brought back last year’s starter Cam Newton despite Newton struggling in his first season in New England. However, the Patriots significantly upgraded the offense and the offensive line around him, so expect Newton, if healthy, to bounce back nicely this season. At times last season, his ability to make plays with his legs brought a new dimension to New England’s offense.

But in the draft, the Patriots couldn’t pass up Alabama quarterback Mac Jones in the first round when he fell to them. Jones is unquestionably the quarterback of the future. What’s unclear is how fast he’ll be given the starting job on a team that was revamped in the offseason with an eye toward contending right now.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars are pretty clearly going to be quarterbacked by No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence, one of the most polished prospects to enter the league in years.

But they also have a young quarterback on their roster in incumbent starter Gardner Minshew who is pretty good. Minshew is unlikely to compete for the starting job in Jacksonville, especially with Urban Meyer and his new regime looking to put their imprint on the franchise.

Minshew has shown promise, though. He completed 66 percent of his passes for nearly 2,300 yards with 16 touchdowns and five interceptions last season. Any number of quarterback-needy teams could be interested in trading for him. So, although he might not win the job in Jacksonville, if he ends up on another roster this season, that could create another intriguing quarterback battle.

Chicago Bears

No team had more of a roller-coaster offseason than the Bears. After striking out on the high-profile quarterbacks available via trades and in free agency, Chicago brought in veteran Andy Dalton. Dalton struggled last season in Dallas and he didn’t exactly rally the fanbase.

But then things took a more positive turn when Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, who most expected to be off the board in the top four picks, fell to the Bears in the draft.

Dalton gives the team a veteran who has had some success in his career, but not one who should bea big obstacle for a prospect like Fields to beat out. That battle should be an intriguing one all season.

San Francisco 49ers

Jimmy Garoppolo is only 29 and recently started in a Super Bowl for the San Francisco 49ers. But an injury-plagued season last season for him and other key 49ers players combined with landing Trey Lance in the first round of the draft means Garoppolo’s days as a starting quarterback are numbered.

How numbered is really up to Lance. If Garoppolo and the rest of his teammates are healthy, San Francisco could once again have a Super Bowl-caliber defense. Would the team entrust that to Lance immediately? Or would they give Garoppolo one more season and try to rely on his experience to make another title run? If Lance is good off the bat, or if Garoppolo gets injured again, that decision might get made quicker than expected.

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