The free agent frenzy came and went, and while we are still in the midst of free agency, we pretty much know for certain who the starting quarterbacks will be in the NFC North.
As far as the other three guys: Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in the NFL (let the debate begin), Matthew Stafford has established himself as a prolific passer, and Sam Bradford had one of the most efficient seasons in NFL history in 2016 (Godspeed Teddy Bridgewater).
It’s hard to even play devil’s advocate as to why Rodgers would not be number one, but where do the other three fall?
1. Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers (6-2, 223 pounds, 33 years old)
Is there any debate here? I mean, in my opinion, Rodgers is the best quarterback in the entire NFL.
Let’s just look at his numbers for starters. Six Pro Bowl selections, two-time All-Pro, and an all-important Super Bowl victory.
He has a career completion percentage of 65.1 and ranks 23rd all-time in passing yards (should easily finish in the top 10 once he retires).
Last season he finished 10-6 with a completion percentage of 65.7. Rodgers threw for 4,428 yards, 40 touchdowns, and only 7 interceptions.
Aside from the numbers, there is so much more to Rodgers game that elevates him as one of the best in the NFL.
His mobility, arm strength, and creativity are what truly separate him from the rest of the pack. With the addition of Martellus Bennett, a possible running back in free agency or the draft, and some defensive help, it will be exciting to watch Rodgers once again in 2017.
2. Matthew Stafford – Detroit Lions (6-2, 230 pounds, 29 years old)
Since being the number one overall pick out of the University of Georgia, Matthew Stafford has made a name for himself throwing the ball, and throwing it a lot. In his 8-year career, Stafford has made 4,285 passing attempts. To put that in perspective, Sam Bradford has attempted 2,844 passing attempts (missed all of the 2014 season due to injury).
Stafford has been to one Pro Bowl in his career (2014) and has played in every game since 2011, proving his durability.
In 2016, he finished 9-7 with a completion percentage of 65.3. He threw for 4,327 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. He has never thrown for less than 4,000 yards and is one of five quarterbacks in NFL history to throw for over 5,000 yards, achieving this feat in 2011.
Stafford has accomplished all of these prolific passing numbers while having a pretty porous running game throughout his career, meaning the defense has the advantage game planning every week. From 2011 through last season, the Lions ranked in rushing: 29th, 23rd, 17th, 28th, 32nd, and 30th. Aside from 2013, Detroit has finished in the bottom quarter every season. That puts a lot of pressure on a quarterback.
Reminds me of a great QB down in the Big Easy…
Throughout his career, many fans and media personnel have attributed much of Stafford’s success to having a great receiver such as Calvin Johnson. There is no denying that Johnson was one of the best during his time, and would make any quarterback better, but even after he retired in 2015, Stafford put up the same numbers that he always does with Golden Tate and Marvin Jones Jr. as his wideouts, and no rushing game to speak of.
Stafford is one of the underrated quarterbacks in the NFL and has supplanted himself as the number two QB in the NFC North.
3. Sam Bradford – Minnesota Vikings (6-4, 236 pounds, 29 years old)
Bradford was able to revitalize his career due to the unfortunate injury that happened to Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater before last season.
Bradford was slated as the starter in Philly, but with the selection of Carson Wentz in the 2016 Draft, it seemed that his time as an Eagle was running out, and even he motioned to be traded.
When Bridgewater went down, the Vikings made the call and sent a first-round pick for the former first overall player taken in the 2010 draft.
As far as the numbers are concerned, he has had a pretty mediocre career and one that has been plagued with injuries. He has never been to a Pro Bowl, and never had a winning season. He has never thrown for over 4,000 yards and never thrown for more than 21 touchdowns. He has only played a full 16 games twice.
However, last year’s campaign was one of his best. He finished with 3,877 yards, 20 touchdowns, and only 5 interceptions with an incredible completion percentage of 71.6. It was the most yards in his career, 2nd most touchdowns, and 2nd least amount of interceptions. It was also by far his highest completion percentage.
With all of this being said, with two-minutes left in the game, and my team down 3, I would take Matthew Stafford under center over Sam Bradford every day of the week, which is one of my reason’s for the 2-3 ranking.
Bradford’s contract is good through this season and then he is set to become an unrestricted free agent. If he can build upon his 2016 season, and Minnesota decides to hand the ball back over to a hopefully healthy Teddy Bridgewater, Bradford will surely find himself another home and probably one more big pay day.
4. Mike Glennon – Chicago Bears (6-6, 232 pounds, 27 years old)
Nothing against Mike Glennon, but this offseason signing almost makes even less sense than the Osweiler signing did last year. The Bears did learn a little bit from the Texans and only guaranteed him $18.5 million, so if the 2017 experiment goes poorly, they can cut bait with him without losing too much. The entire contract is 3-years worth $45 million, according to spotrac.com.
But still, to me, $18.5 million is a lot of money for a guy that has only started 18 games, never had a completion percentage over 59.4, and only attempted 11 passes last season. If this was a first round pick that had a few shaky seasons I understand giving him another shot in a new environment. But this a third-round pick, who has been a backup for two seasons and is now asked to play for a team in the third largest media market and hasn’t had a winning season since 2012 and haven’t won the NFC North since 2010.
At least Osweiler played in seven games the season before Houston drastically overpaid for him.
On the positive side, Glennon does have a 2:1 touchdown to interception ratio (30:15). And at 6-6 he’s got the size that all scouts and GM’s love.
Former Tampa Bay GM and current ESPN Analyst, Mark Dominik talks highly of the move and praises Glennon’s talent, he did draft him after all. He also drafted QB Josh Freeman in the first round and the Buccaneers went 28-52 during Dominik’s tenure.
Not trying to be overly critical, it’s just always surprising to me when you see these quarterbacks signing big contracts that really haven’t proved anything. Is Glennon really an upgrade from Jay Cutler? Hopefully, he can shake the rust off and prove me wrong, I hope he does.
But this almost has the feeling of a band-aid for the Bears until a loaded quarterback draft class next season.
Time will tell, but for now, Glennon sits at the bottom of the NFC North.