Ranking top 5 free agent NFL quarterbacks heading into 2024 season

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As NFL fans look ahead to the free agency period next month, where some of the top quarterback options land is always top of mind. 

This free agent class is not as star-studded as past years, but there are some interesting names that are likely to find homes as potential starters heading into the 2024 campaign. 

Let’s rank the top five options at quarterback in the free agency pool, as every NFL club gears up to improve their rosters for next season, starting at No. 5. 

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Cleveland Browns quarterback Jacoby Brissett meets with reporters following the team’s 23-17 overtime win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in an NFL football game in Cleveland on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/David Richard)

5. Jacoby Brissett

There are arguments for the likes of Sam Darnold, Mitch Trubisky or Tyrod Taylor to be number five on this list, which is not the best group to choose from. However, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to Jacoby Brissett’s career 18-30 record as a starter.  

Last season, he did not do much with the Washington Commanders, who worked with rookie Sam Howell all season despite collecting a 4-13 record. However, with the Cleveland Browns in 2022, Brissett went 4-7 while Deshaun Watson served his suspension, throwing for 2,608 yards in 16 games (11 starts) with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions. 

Brissett is an accurate passer (over 62% completion rate over the last three seasons) who has proven to do whatever is necessary to pick up first downs and give his team a chance to win. He does not have that X-factor other quarterbacks do, but he is someone the locker room respects for his work ethic and getting it done on the field. 

If he is a starter, it is mostly as a holdover looking to the future. However, Brissett will land with some team because of how good of a backup he can be if, like with the Browns, he needs to be called upon. 

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The 27-year-old gunslinger is not afraid of any moment, even if was taking over the starting role for the Indianapolis Colts when rookie Anthony Richardson went down for the year. 

Gardner Minshew almost helped get Indy into the playoffs, owning a 7-6 record as a starter with 3,305 yards,15 touchdowns, nine interceptions and a 62.2% completion rate. He is also sneaky, running in for three touchdowns and picking up seven first downs with his legs this past season. 

“Minshew Mania” has bounced around the NFL since coming in as a Jacksonville Jaguar in 2019, but his performance last season proves he has what it takes to get the job done on game day, and he could be the right someone to compete with, say, Kenny Pickett for the Pittsburgh Steelers job next season. 

Ryan Tannehill throws

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill throws during the second half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

3. Ryan Tannehill

Speaking of the Steelers, someone like Ryan Tannehill, a seasoned veteran who has years of playoff experience under his belt, could be the perfect fit for a team looking to either add a new starter, or compete with someone already on the roster. 

Tannehill will be entering his 12th NFL season, his first six coming with the Miami Dolphins before joining the Tennessee Titans. Former Titans head coach Mike Vrabel decided to give the reins to rookie Will Levis last season, a year that was lost and allowed Levis to get acclimated to the league. 

In turn, Tannehill hits the market looking for his third NFL team, and for him, one where he can earn the starting job with a good camp. He is 81-70 during the regular season as a starter and has shown the ability to use both his arm and legs to put points on the board. 

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Other than the Steelers, teams like the Atlanta Falcons, Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers all need veteran quarterbacks next season to work with their offensive weapons on the roster already, as well as those to come. Tannehill could be the man for one of those jobs. 

The Bucs were mentioned as a team looking for a veteran quarterback, but it was only because Baker Mayfield had a one-year, prove-it contract last season. And boy, did he prove it by getting Tampa Bay into the playoffs and beating the Philadelphia Eagles on his home turf, 32-9, in dominant fashion. 

Tom Brady’s retirement from football left the Bucs needing to answer many questions last offseason, and they decided to go with the 2018 first overall pick as their next quarterback. It was a one-year tryout for Mayfield, who should be in good standing with the front office now after posting a 9-8 record to win the NFC South. 

Mayfield threw for 4,044 yards with 28 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, showed tremendous aggressiveness with his legs when needed and surprised some who believed the Bucs to be one of the bottom-of-the-barrel teams in 2023. 

If he does not return to the Bucs next season, other teams should be calling his agent to see if he would suit up for them because of what he proved in 2023. 

Baker Mayfield looks on field

Baker Mayfield, #6 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, participates in warmups prior to the NFC Divisional Playoff game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Jan. 21, 2024 in Detroit. (Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

1. Kirk Cousins

This one goes without saying, but the four-time Pro Bowler is coming off a torn Achilles he suffered against the Green Bay Packers last season. 

The Vikings looked to be heading to the playoffs with Kirk Cousins dropping dimes all over the field, even with Justin Jefferson suffering a hamstring injury that kept him out for weeks. Through just eight games, Cousins threw for 2,331 yards with 18 touchdowns and five interceptions and had a completion percentage just under 70%. Minnesota went 4-4 during those games. 

Now, it would not shock anyone if Cousins returns to Minnesota next season to keep things going there as their franchise man. He has spent six seasons up north, where he has had a 50-37-1 regular-season record, though they have not done much in the playoffs. 

However, the return of Cousins to a team with Jefferson, Jordan Addison, T.J. Hockenson and others could compete against some of the best NFC teams in the league, including the San Francisco 49ers, who they took down in primetime last year with Cousins under center.

However, do not rule out the other quarterback-hungry teams that could be clamoring to see Cousins working with their weapons, like the Falcons, who have everything they need in place. They just need the right quarterback to lead the way under new head coach Raheem Morris. 

Kirk Cousins looks to pass

Kirk Cousins, #8 of the Minnesota Vikings, looks to pass during the second quarter of the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on Oct. 15, 2023 in Chicago. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

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The one caveat with Cousins is how his 35-year-old self will return from that Achilles injury. Teams will need to feel secure with their investment in him, and word of that should leak out with free agency just around the corner. 

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