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Best free agent quarterbacks in 2024: Ranking the top 10, projected value, team fits

Best free agent quarterbacks in 2024: Ranking the top 10, projected value, team fits originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

It's time to start diving into free agency.

Every offseason, teams are jockeying to fill the most important position in football -- whether that be adding a veteran starter, rookie project or career backup. Quarterback is the spot that has to be secure for any team to win a Super Bowl.

With that in mind, there are several intriguing names who could reach free agency. From Pro Bowlers to former No. 1 picks, quarterbacks will be in high demand when negotiations begin.

Here's a breakdown of the top 10 quarterbacks who could be free agents this offseason and where they might go:

1. Kirk Cousins

What's his value? Coming off a torn Achilles, the 36-year-old Cousins is still clearly the top free agent quarterback available this offseason. He's been a stabilizing force for the Vikings over the past six seasons, with 171 touchdowns and 55 interceptions in 88 starts for Minnesota. Cousins will have a healthy market with plenty of QB-needy teams.

What team could sign him? If the Vikings opt to go in a different direction, the Falcons are lingering as an ideal fit for Cousins. Atlanta just hired new head coach Raheem Morris, who quickly brought over former Rams assistant Zac Robinson to be his offensive coordinator. Cousins has thrived in Minnesota under another Sean McVay disciple in Kevin O'Connell. So with the Falcons' loaded group of skill players and a weak NFC South, Cousins would be wise to consider Atlanta.

2. Baker Mayfield

What's his value? Few could have predicted this rise from Mayfield after where he was at 12 months ago. In 2022, the Browns gave away their former top pick for pennies, then the Panthers cut him in the middle of the season. Mayfield was forced to play on a one-year, $6.85 million deal with Tampa Bay last season -- and he made the absolute most of it. By leading the Bucs to a division title and postseason win, Mayfield is well-positioned to cash in this time around.

What team could sign him? All signs are pointing to a reunion between Mayfield and the Bucs. It makes sense for both sides, with Mayfield finally settling into a long-term home and the Bucs continuing to grow in the post-Tom Brady era. Next season will be another challenge with offensive coordinator Dave Canales heading to the division rival Panthers, but Mayfield has experience with new Bucs coordinator Liam Coen from their time with the Rams.

3. Gardner Minshew

What's his value? Minshew made the most of his opportunity with the Colts last year. After entering the season as Anthony Richardson's backup, Indianapolis called Minshew's name when its rookie suffered a season-ending injury. The journeyman led the Colts within one game of making the postseason, posting a career high 3,305 passing yards. Any team with a young quarterback could look to Minshew as a solid stopgap or high-end backup option.

What team could sign him? While re-signing with the Colts makes sense, Minshew might push for a starting job elsewhere with Richardson coming back healthy. The Commanders make sense given Minshew's skillset, and it would offer an opportunity similar to last season. Washington will likely take a rookie quarterback with the No. 2 pick, giving Minshew the chance to compete for a starting job in the short-term. Plus, Minshew is accustomed to offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury's air raid offense -- a system he ran under the late Mike Leach at Washington State.

4. Ryan Tannehill

What's his value? Even though Tannehill is the same age as Cousins, his value is significantly lower. He was benched last season as the Titans struggled with him under center, and then the offense was sparked by rookie Will Levis. Tannehill, at this point in his career, is likely looking at a backup role with potentially an opportunity to compete for a starting job against a young player.

What team could sign him? Since his best years came under offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, keep an eye on the Steelers. Pittsburgh shouldn't be sold on Kenny Pickett, and bringing in a proven veteran could be just what he needs. Tannehill is capable of running Smith's offense and would bring leadership for both Pickett and the entire young offense.

5. Jacoby Brissett

What's his value? Last season didn't tell us much about Brissett -- but we know what he is. Over three games for Washington, the journeyman completed 18 of 23 passes for three touchdowns while serving as a mentor for Sam Howell. Brissett's best football came the year prior in Cleveland, where he proved himself in 11 starts for the Browns.

What team could sign him? A homecoming in New England could be on the horizon. The Patriots drafted Brissett way back in 2016. While there's a totally different leadership structure in place now, there are still plenty of connections to that era. Plus, Brissett played for new Patriots offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt in Cleveland. The team could either draft a rookie quarterback at No. 3 or sign a stopgap veteran like Brissett while building up the rest of the roster.

6. Joshua Dobbs

What's his value? The pendulum swung back and forth on Dobbs in 2023. He was traded by the Browns to the Cardinals in the preseason, and he got off to a hot start (4 touchdowns, 0 interceptions through Week 4). But he stumbled over his next four games (4 touchdowns, 5 interceptions) before another trade to the Vikings. It was the same story in Minnesota, with a flashy beginning and eventual flameout. Dobbs has earned a spot as an NFL backup, but it's hard to see any team trusting him as a starter going into the season.

What team could sign him? Dobbs has been with seven organizations since being drafted in 2017. The eighth could be in Sin City with the Raiders. Las Vegas doesn't have an established starting QB entering the offseason. Rookie Aidan O'Connell was serviceable in 10 starts last season, but he's far from a sure thing. Dobbs, and potentially another new rookie, could make sense as the Raiders look to make noise under new coach Antonio Pierce next season.

7. Joe Flacco

What's his value? If you asked this question in October, the answer was simple. It took Flacco until late November to find a job, but he thrived after claiming it. Flacco and the Cleveland Browns were a perfect match. The team went 4-1 with him as a starter, as Flacco turned back the clock and won Comeback Player of the Year. At 39 years old, the former Super Bowl MVP has likely earned another NFL opportunity.

What team could sign him? A return to Cleveland is in Flacco's best interest. He seemed to be on the brink of retirement in his late career stops with the Eagles and Jets. But Kevin Stefanski's offense unlocked something within Flacco. So, even with Deshaun Watson returning as the starter next season, Flacco would be the ideal backup who can step up when needed.

8. Jameis Winston

What's his value? After five seasons starting for the Bucs, Winston has served as the Saints' backup for the last four. Entering year 10, Winston likely wants another chance to start. This past season ended on a strange note, when Winston and the players seemingly went against their head coach's call to kneel it out and instead scored.

What team could sign him? Winston signed four contracts in four years with the Saints. But after the way last season ended, a fifth pact feels unlikely. Instead, Winston could join his old coach, Sean Payton, in Denver. The Broncos are expected to move on from Russell Wilson, leaving Jarrett Stidham as the only quarterback on the roster. They'll surely sign a veteran and could add a rookie, too.

9. Mason Rudolph

What's his value? Like Flacco, Rudolph's value rose from the ashes at the end of last season. He stepped in for the Steelers and went 3-0 to lead them back to the postseason. The 28-year-old veteran has just 13 career starts in six years, but his value will be at an all-time high this offseason.

What team could sign him? Early signs are pointing to a reunion in Pittsburgh, and it's hard to picture him anywhere else. Kenny Pickett is far from a lock to start next season, which will give Rudolph a real opportunity to start games this fall.

10. Drew Lock

What's his value? How much does one game matter? That's what Lock is going to learn when he becomes a free agent. He started two games for the Seahawks last season after spending 2022 on the sideline. In his second start, Lock went 22 of 33 for 208 yards and a touchdown. His two-minute drill drive to seal the victory over the Eagles was flawless and ended with a 29-yard game-winning TD pass.

What team could sign him? The Seahawks changed their coaching staff, so Lock could be on the move. Offensive coordinator Shane Waldron took the same job in Chicago -- which could lead Lock to the Windy City. The Bears are expected to draft Caleb Williams with the No. 1 pick and trade Justin Fields, opening up a backup role. Lock, entering his sixth season, could be the veteran who knows the system that the Bears need.

Other free agent QBs: Tyrod Taylor, Mitch Trubisky, Sam Darnold, Marcus Mariota, Easton Stick, Carson Wentz, Trevor Siemian