6 backup QBs the Rams could sign with Baker Mayfield gone
The Los Angeles Rams suffered their second notable loss of free agency on Wednesday when Baker Mayfield agreed to terms with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a one-year deal. The Rams would’ve liked to bring Mayfield back as the No. 2 behind Matthew Stafford, but he’s no longer an option.
So where do the Rams turn in their search for a backup quarterback? There are still some viable options available in free agency, but they could also draft a rookie to sit behind Stafford and learn for a couple of seasons.
Here are six free agents the Rams could consider signing with Mayfield off the market.
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Mariota got his first chance to be a starter last season after two years as a backup, and he threw 15 touchdown passes with nine interceptions in 13 starts. His best asset is his mobility, rushing for 438 yards and four touchdowns last season, which is something Sean McVay seems to like in a backup quarterback.
With Mariota unlikely to land another starting gig in 2023, the Rams should be able to get him for a reasonable price – certainly less than the $8.5 million Mayfield got. As an experienced veteran with good athleticism, he might be the ideal fit for McVay and the Rams behind Stafford.
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Bridgewater filled in for Tua Tagovailoa twice last season, losing both of those starts. In total, he played five games and completed 49 of 79 passes for 683 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions. Bridgewater isn’t a quarterback with a big arm, but he’s capable of operating an offense like the Rams’, which is quarterback-friendly and often utilizes moving pockets and rollouts.
Bridgewater made $6.5 million on his last contract, which is about what he could expect again in 2023. That would be a very reasonable deal for the Rams to give him, especially if it’s incentive-based and not fully guaranteed.
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Minshew has past experience as a starter but not a ton of success in the last three years when he’s gone just 2-10 under center. In two starts with the Eagles last season, Minshew threw three touchdown passes and three interceptions, completing just 57.9% of his passes.
Minshew will be 27 this year and though he’s been a starter previously, he’s not likely to get another crack at it in 2023. The cost to sign Minshew will be minimal, but at least he’ll bring more experience than someone like John Wolford or Bryce Perkins.
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Brissett will probably be the most expensive option on this list because he showed last year that he deserves to be a starter somewhere. Though he went 4-7 in his 11 starts with the Browns in 2022, he threw 12 touchdown passes and six interceptions, also rushing for 243 yards and two touchdowns.
He would be an excellent backup to Stafford, proving over the years that he’s more than capable of being a starter, even if it’s just for a brief period of time. It’s just a matter of whether Brissett will hold out for an opportunity to start – or at least compete for a job – or if he’s content being a backup.
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Rush kept the Cowboys afloat last season when Dak Prescott went down, going 4-1 in his five starts. He threw five touchdown passes and three interceptions, taking care of the football with the exception of a 26-17 loss to the Eagles – a game in which he threw three picks.
He’s not going to light up the scoreboard or throw for 400 yards in a spot start, but he’s capable of getting the ball into his playmakers’ hands, which is all the Rams need their backup quarterback to do. He’d be a cheaper option behind Stafford, but also one with some experience as a starter for a brief time.
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Lock lost the quarterback battle to Geno Smith in Seattle last year and he’ll now be a free agent. Lock was previously the Broncos’ starting quarterback, going 8-13 in Denver with 25 touchdown passes and 20 interceptions – including a league-high 15 picks in 2020. He was a second-round pick in 2019, so there were high hopes for him coming out of Missouri.
Lock backed up Smith last season and it’s hard to see him getting another opportunity to start next season, which makes him a viable backup option for the Rams.