Players acquired by new teams:
Brock Osweiler (traded to Cle from Hou) – Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Texans are trading Brock Osweiler and their 2018 2nd round pick to Cleveland.
Fantasy Analysis: Wow. Essentially, Cleveland is making a trade we usually see in the NBA. They’re absorbing Brock Osweiler’s massive cap number ($16M guaranteed in 2017) in exchange for Houston’s 2018 second round pick. Even with Osweiler’s horrible contract on their books, the Browns will barely feel a dent. Heading into free agency, the Browns had over $100M in space – by far the most among all NFL teams. This is a sharp move by both front offices. For Cleveland, they get rights to yet another high-end draft pick. The Browns now have 11 picks in each of the next two drafts. On the other side, Houston gets out of Osweiler’s contract and they now likely have enough cap room to likely pursue Tony Romo. This type of trade is unusual in the NFL, but it makes a ton of sense for both sides. Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Browns are even considering releasing Brock Osweiler once he arrives in Cleveland. Again, they simply made this deal for Houston’s 2nd round pick in 2018.
Mike Glennon (signed by Chi from TB) – Glennon gets his long-desired chance to start, signing with the Bears on a three-year deal worth about $15 million annually, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. It’s worth up to $19 million guaranteed, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. Ultimately, the deal can be escaped after one year, so it's essentially a well-paid tryout for Glennon.
Fantasy Analysis: After starting in the Bucs offense in 2013, Glennon took a permanent back seat to Jameis Winston over the last two years. He didn’t play at all in 2015 and saw minimal game action in relief for Winston in 2016. Still, Glennon boasts a 30:15 TD:INT ratio and there’s been interest around the league for the former NC State quarterback. Buc HC Dirk Koetter said this past year that he believes Glennon is a starter in the NFL, and now Glennon gets a shot to prove it. And though his track record isn’t long, he has more success to his name than, say, Brock Osweiler did when he signed with Houston last year (and Glennon had better numbers on a worse Buc team in 2013). Keep in mind Glennon failed to beat out both Josh Freeman and Josh McCown in 2013 and 2014, respectively, so there’s plenty of hesitation to go along with all this intrigue. But he’s a big guy with a good arm, and all reports indicate he’s a voracious student of the game. We still aren’t entirely sure what Glennon’s receiving corps will look like (Alshon Jeffery is gone), so we’ll have to reevaluate after free agency, because there are a lot of moving parts here. Ideally, as Glennon is a little deliberate and methodical in what he does, he’ll be an under-center QB in a balanced offense. Fortunately for him, that’s precisely what John Fox wants, and the Bears have a strong run game with Jordan Howard in place.
Brian Hoyer (signed by SF from Chi) – The 49ers are inking Hoyer to a two-year deal, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
Fantasy Analysis: Hoyer was a “hot commodity” on the market, but he lands with new coach Kyle Shanahan, with whom he had his most success during the 2014 season in Cleveland, when Hoyer went 7-6 as a starter and threw for 7.6 YPA. He actually played pretty well as the starter for Chicago in 2016, throwing for 6 TDs without an INT and going for more 300+ yards in all four of his starts in Weeks 3-6. He averaged 22.9 FPG in that stretch (10th at the position) and was a viable streamer of the waiver wire. Hoyer entered the lineup after Jay Cutler sprained his thumb in Week 2, and he left in Week 7 and missed the rest of the year with a fractured forearm. Hoyer completed 134/200 passes (67.0%) for 1445 yards (7.2 YPA), 6 TDs, and 0 INTs, averaging 16.3 FPG in six games. Hoyer did average a miserable .48 fantasy points per pass attempt – the league average was .53 – so a lot of his production was driven by volume, but he also had just one turnover on a lost fumble. If the 49ers don’t swing a deal for Kirk Cousins, we’d expect Hoyer to start some games for Shanahan’s boys in 2017.
Josh McCown (signed by NYJ from Cle) – The Jets are giving McCown a one-year deal with $6 million guaranteed, according to his agent Mike McCartney on Twitter.
Fantasy Analysis: In five games in 2016, McCown threw 6 TDs and 6 INTs while completing 54.5% of his passes, and he was often injured to boot. Nonetheless, he’s typically valued for his “coaching” ability of young QBs, which will help the Jets if they select one high in April’s NFL Draft. McCown is being paid like a bridge starter, but it’s hard to imagine him offering much more on field than Ryan Fitzpatrick did.
Matt Barkley (signed by SF from Chi) – Barkley follows Bear teammate Brian Hoyer to San Francisco, he announced on his personal Twitter account.
Fantasy Analysis: Barkley surprised many by looking competent in his first couple starts after both Jay Cutler (shoulder) and Brian Hoyer (forearm) were lost for the season. He turned out to be a better thrower in the intermediate and deep areas than we anticipated when he took over in Week 12, but he slowly began to unravel in his final three starts, throwing a whopping 10 INTs in that span and getting benched in the finale. He completed 129/216 passes (59.7%) for 1611 yards (7.5 YPA), 8 TDs, and 14 INTs, averaging 17.1 FPG in seven games. Out of Barkley's 216 passing attempts on the season, 41.2% of those tosses went for first downs. Only Matt Ryan - who threw for first downs on 44.6% of his passes - had a higher percentage among QBs who attempted 200+ passes. Considering that Barkley started the season on the practice squad, he came along way in 2016 despite his awful finish. While he’s never played for Kyle Shanahan directly, his OC in Chicago last year was Dowell Loggains, who was QB coach under Shanahan in Cleveland, so Barkley is clearly familiar with the 49ers’ terminology. He’ll be the backup at best (to Hoyer), and potentially even less than that if the Niners draft a QB or trade for one (Kirk Cousins?).
Nick Foles (signed by Phi from KC) – The Eagles are signing Foles to a two-year contract worth up to $11 million, with $7 million guaranteed, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.
Fantasy Analysis: Foles returns to the team that made him into a certified Pro Bowl MVP ®! In all seriousness, Foles is a solid backup for Philly, and signing him allows them to move on from Chase Daniel, saving some money against the cap in the process. Foles obviously knows Doug Pederson’s offense well from their time together under Andy Reid, so it’s a natural fit behind Carson Wentz. Daniel requested the team move on from him because he wants a chance to start, and he was not going to get that in Philly. Foles obviously had no such request.
Geno Smith (signed by NYG from NYJ) – The Giants are signing Geno to a two-year deal, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post.
Fantasy Analysis: Is there a player that needs a change of scenery more than Geno? And does going to the Giants actually count? Smith’s time with the Jets is mercifully over this off-season after his fourth NFL season ended with a torn ACL in Week 7. He attempted just 14 passes in two games, suffering his knee injury in the second quarter of his only start of the season in place of Ryan Fitzpatrick. Smith obviously never lived up to his #39 overall draft status from 2013, and he’ll look to salvage his career with the Giants, where he will back up Eli Manning.
Mark Sanchez (signed by Chi from Dal) – The Bears brought in Sanchez on a one-year deal, the team announced.
Fantasy Analysis: The Bears have “rebuilt” their QB room this off-season, but without much commitment. Sanchez actually signed a one-year deal, and new starter Mike Glennon signed what essentially amounts to a one-year tryout deal. We all know what Sanchez is at this point. He can occasionally make some plays, but he’s a walking turnover machine. Signed by the Cowboys to back up Dak Prescott after Tony Romo got injured, Sanchez didn’t play much in 2016. He threw 17 passes in a meaningless Week 17 game for Dallas, and 2 of them were picked off.
EJ Manuel (signed by Oak from Buf) – Manuel will be the Raiders’ new third-string QB on a one-year deal, reports Peter Schrager of FOX Sports.
Fantasy Analysis: The Bills once drafted Manuel at #16 overall back in 2013 to be their franchise QB. Instead, his time in Buffalo will go down as a major disappointment. The Bills gave Manuel one last start in Week 17, but his performance in the season finale showed once again that it was time for the Bills to move on from Manuel. He completed 9/20 passes for 86 yards with no TD and INTs before getting pulled for Cardale Jones. Nonetheless, the Raiders needed a third-string QB since Matt McGloin is gone, and the “hard-count specialist” Manuel will slot in behind Derek Carr and Connor Cook, as he competes for a roster spot.
Players re-signed by their 2016 teams:
Landry Jones (Pit) – The Steelers announced they have re-signed Jones to a two-year contract.
Fantasy Analysis: Jones may never be a quality starter in the NFL, but he showed competence as a backup QB in 2016, completing 53/86 passes (61.6%) for 558 yards with 4 TDs and 2 INT. Given Ben Roethlisberger’s injury history, this moves makes absolutely perfect sense, as the Steelers get to keep a QB with whom they’ve established some comfort.
Kellen Clemens (LAC) – Clemens is re-signing with the Chargers on a one-year deal, according to former Charger beat writer Michael Gehlken.
Fantasy Analysis: Clemens has one of the best jobs on earth – backing up Philip Rivers. He’s thrown just 10 passes over the last three seasons with the Chargers, as Rivers has never missed a start in his NFL career. While the Chargers have a new head coach in Anthony Lynn, they’re retaining OC Ken Whisenhunt, and Clemens is obviously familiar with the offense.
Ryan Mallett (Bal) – Mallett will stay in Baltimore to back up Joe Flacco, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
Fantasy Analysis: Mallett threw just 6 passes in 2016 as starter Joe Flacco stayed healthy coming off his 2015 ACL tear. It was always unlikely he would be able to find a better fit for his services than Baltimore, especially given his locker-room problems (most importantly his failure to be on time when he was in Houston). He still has a big arm, at least, and he fits in the offense behind Flacco.
Matt Schaub (Atl) – Schaub is staying with Atlanta on a two-year deal, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Fantasy Analysis: Schaub threw just 3 passes as the backup to NFL MVP Matt Ryan in 2016, and it’s been arguably four years since he played any semblance of effective football. There was some chatter Schaub could head along with new coach Kyle Shanahan to San Francisco, where he could serve as a “bridge” QB to help install Shanahan’s system, but that talk ended when the 49ers focused on Brian Hoyer. Still, Schaub’s brain is way more important than his pick-six-packed arm at this point.
Matt Cassel (Ten) – The Titans announced that they have re-signed Cassel for the 2017 season, when he will return to back up Marcus Mariota.
Fantasy Analysis: Cassel made one start in 2016, and played a significant part of another game, after Marcus Mariota broke his leg in Week 16. Cassel went 30/51 for 284 yards with 2 TDs and 2 INTs in all, including throwing a pick-six in Week 16 against Jacksonville. Cassel is a certified “veteran,” but his already limited skills are waning even more. However, he is a valued backup given his experience and knowledge of the game, and he can certainly be capable in a pinch.
Kellen Moore (Dal) – The Cowboys re-signed Moore to a one-year deal, the team announced.
Fantasy Analysis: The 2015 season was a miserable one for Dallas after Tony Romo went down early, and Moore was part of that eye sore, seeing his first NFL game action and completing less than 60% of his passes with 4 TDs and 6 INTs in just 3 games. A fractured fibula sidelined him for all of 2016; the injury was a big part of Dak Prescott’s ascension to starter status. Moore’s re-signing is for little money, so the Cowboys can absolutely choose to bring in another QB to back up Prescott.
Josh Johnson (NYG) – The Giants re-signed Johnson to a two-year deal, Johnson’s agent announced on Twitter.
Fantasy Analysis: The Giants re-signed Johnson and not Ryan Nassib, but also brought in Geno Smith, so it doesn't look like Johnson's roster spot is safe. The Giants are absolutely going to be in the market to draft a developmental QB in April. Johnson hasn’t played an NFL snap since 2013.
Connor Shaw (Chi) – Shaw signed an exclusive-rights tender with the Bears, he revealed on his Twitter account.
Fantasy Analysis: Shaw suffered a broken leg in the 2016 preseason but he expects to return in time for OTAs. The Bears’ quarterback situation was a complete mess and is being rebuilt with Mike Glennon at the forefront, but Shaw will be in the building to compete as a backup.
Kirk Cousins (Was) – According to Cousins’ agent Mike McCartney on Twitter, Cousins has officially signed exclusive franchise tag from Washington, which prevents him from negotiating an offer sheet from another team. Cousins’ franchise tag is worth about $24 million. But now that he's signed the deal, he can still be traded.
Fantasy Analysis: The Cousins saga still hasn’t ended, we reckon. But this gives Washington exclusive negotiating rights with him, and prevents another team from setting his market (Washington can still trade Cousins). Of course, the question is “can Washington do better?” Cousins has been propped up by Jay Gruden’s well-coached offense, though how much influence OC Sean McVay (now head coach of the Rams) has could be an issue. He was also propped up by a great offensive line and one of the NFL’s best supporting casts. Nonetheless, at 0.63 FP/PA, Cousins ranked 5th among QBs with 500 or more pass attempts. Watching Cousins turn the ball over and struggle under pressure in Week 17 was almost certainly tough for Washington fans, but it’s just unlikely the club can do better. We expect him to be back, and though the receiving corps has been totally decimated in free agency, we’ll once again like him as a low-end fantasy starting QB. Reportedly, Cousins is intrigued by playing for Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco, but he would now need to be traded there. The dysfunction in Washington's front office can't be too appealing to Cousins.