Predicting the arms race for 2024 season; who gets which signal-caller and why

Mac Jones trade could reshuffle the deck as quarterbacks might be taking a different route via the draft and free agency.

The trade between New England and Jacksonville on Sunday where Mac Jones returns to his native Duval County, Florida, could have upset the order that quarterbacks fall in the draft.
The trade between New England and Jacksonville on Sunday where Mac Jones returns to his native Duval County, Florida, could have upset the order that quarterbacks fall in the draft. / Rich Barnes/GettyImages

Two quarterback dominoes fell on Sunday as Mac Jones was traded by New England to Jacksonville for a late-round selection in next month's NFL Draft. Later in the day it was announced that Baker Mayfield agreed to terms with Tampa Bay on a three-year $100 million compact that could inflate to $115 million with incentives.

It is also widely speculated, that a third quarterback, Minnesota Vikings signal caller Kirk Cousins has emerged as the leading candidate to land in Atlanta and play for the Falcons and new coach Raheem Morris.

Finally, ESPN reported late Sunday night that the Steelers and Wilson are going to ink a one-year deal as early as this morning. Wilson also took to the social media platform formerly known as Twitter and announced that the deal has been struck.

The Steelers will pay Wilson $1.2 million and Denver will be on the hook for the remaining $38 million of his 2024 salary. This will be the most economical deal for a starting quarterback who has been to nine Pro Bowls and won a Super Bowl, in league history.

With those three moves, the chess board gets readjusted and the face cards at the top of the NFL Draft could be reshuffled.

By New England trading Jones to Jacksonville, they are in need of a starting quarterback as Bailey Zappe and Nathan Rourke will remain backups to a flashy starter. Most mock drafts, including that of NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah, the Patriots were in line to draft Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison, Jr, with the third selection in the first round.

Now that the Patriots have traded their former starting quarterback, the new-look Patriots might be looking to use that third pick on a quarterback and all signals point it to be reigning Heisman Trophy Award winner Jayden Daniels of LSU.

There has been some speculation that the Patriots might bring back Jacoby Brissett, who they originally drafted as a rookie, as a stop gap measure, but that would not prevent them from drafting their future quarterback in Daniels.

With Mayfield re-upping in Tampa Bay as expected, the Bucs are out of the quarterback market. However, with Cousins expected to get a long look and enter into negotiations with the Falcons today, that could kill any trade potential between the Falcons and the Bears for Chicago's incumbent starter Justin Fields.

Should Cousins leave Minnesota, they will be looking for a quarterback in the first round and could take J.J. McCarthy of Michigan, who had an awesome work out last week at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. They could also turn to Oregon's Bo Nix with the 11th pick of the first round. I would bet that the surviving quarterback between Nix and McCarthy, would fall to the Denver Broncos at the 12th selection.

The Broncos flirted with the idea on Sunday of entering the Cousins sweepstakes, but do not have the cap space and carry too much dead money from the Russell Wilson contract to entertain the type of contract that Cousins will command.

Denver will take either Nix or McCarthy at 12 and that will be Sean Payton's saving grace for the waste of money and draft capital spent on Wilson.

Chicago, with the top pick in the draft, is expected to draft Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams, but were also anticipating trading Fields for a bevy of picks and players. With Jones being traded for a sixth-round pick, that appears to dilute the trade waters for Fields. Chicago, if they cannot trade Fields for what Ryan Poles deems to be adequate value, the Bears could have both Fields and Williams on their roster.

Another possibility is that if the Bears do not trade Fields, they could add Harrison, Jr. to the already talented wide receiver room and stick with Fields for now. Fields is serviceable and is coming off of a productive season. There are worse signal-callers in the league and Chicago can win with Fields.

As I have said previously, Williams is not the best player in the draft and the Bears would be wise to stay away from the Diva, who did not want to test, either skills or medicals at the combine and seems to be getting bad advice from his father, Carl Williams. The Bears should stick with fields, or if they really want to use the first pick on a new franchise quarterback, they should draft Daniels, who I believe is the best quarterback in the draft.

The Washington Commanders are still in line to draft North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye with the second pick. Should Chicago trade the first pick, and Williams not go number one, the Commanders could steal Williams and reunite him with Commanders offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury who coached him at USC.

Where does that leave the New York Giants and their sixth selection? The G-Men were anticipating Daniels being around with the sixth pick as they look to replace Daniel Jones, who is entering the last year of a contract with guaranteed money. The Giants might be compelled now to seek to trade up and use their two second round picks as leverage to make a deal.

Should Daniels fall to New England as now predicted, the Giants could stand pat with the sixth selection and reach for Bo Nix or Michael Penix, Jr. who both excelled at the combine last week in Indianapolis and are moving up the draft boards. The sixth pick seems a little rich for Nix or Penix, Jr., but when a potential franchise quarterback falls in your lap, you must overspend to get him.

The Giants could roll the dice and trade down in the first round and acquire more draft capital and draft Nix or Penix, Jr. later in the first round, where they are projected to be selected. They could also wait until the second round and potentially draft Spencer Rattler, who is expected to be sitting there waiting to be drafted.

I would also look for the Giants to bring in a veteran with a cap-friendly contract in the event that they cannot secure the quarterback that they want in the draft. They could look at a Ryan Tannehill signing as the former Titans quarterback still has plenty of gas left in the tank.

Whew. Welcome to free agency and the NFL Draft.