Let’s preface this fantasy trade machine game that none of these proposed swaps have been discussed, make any financial sense or even border on the fence of being considered. And of course, the trade deadline has come and gone.
But they’re a heck of a bunch of fun to toy around with, so let’s move on.
Quarterback is the most important position on the football field, and this year there are so many surprises and disappointments it just makes you wonder if another player could find solace wearing a uniform different from the one they’re wearing now.
Here are four hypothetical swaps we’ve come up with that get us psyched, at least for imaginary purposes:
In the absolute admission that both teams made a crucial mistake, here’s a chance for redemption.
The Bears financially are handcuffed by Cutler’s bloated contract, but there’s no way that he and Marc Trestman can co-exist in Chicago beyond 2014. Right? Cutler is a turnover machine, and over the past three games — all losses, not surprisingly — there’s no excuse that this talented of a Bears offense only mustered 51 points that span.
Whether it’s a Cutler problem or a Trestman problem, this wasn’t the situation a year ago when the journeyman, McCown, was manning this exact same offense. McCown put up career numbers under Trestman, which is how he wound up in Tampa Bay to begin with. If Trestman can salvage his job, then maybe the man we once proclaimed the quarterback whisperer (at least, maybe, I proclaimed him that) could make amends in 2015 with McCown.
For the Buccaneers, it’ll be a reunion for Lovie Smith and Cutler. The defensive-minded coach can work on resurrecting the Tampa defense while Cutler tries to re-write his career with the likes of Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins. I mean, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett are quite a trio of weapons, too, but in that system it doesn’t appear Cutler can have success.
2. Eli Manning to the Arizona Cardinals
Carson Palmer has been lost for the year with a torn ACL, another chapter in his very intriguing career. It’s a devastating blow to the 8-1 Cardinals, owners of the best record in the NFL, as they now turn back to Drew Stanton, who filled in for an injured Palmer earlier this year.
Stanton is no slouch, and filled in admirably for Arizona when his name was called. But there’s no confusing Palmer and Stanton, and the team’s ceiling is inevitably lower with the latter behind center.
Manning and the Giants need to divorce. The two-time Super Bowl champion is not a fit in first-year offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s system, and he at one time in his career excelled in Kevin Kilbride’s vertical passing scheme. The Giants can try and find out whether Ryan Nassib is their future under center, and if he can thrive with the likes of young receivers in Odell Beckham Jr., Rueben Randle and tight end Larry Donnell.
That’ll give Manning another shot at a Super Bowl ring, this time being a glorified game-manager with the talented Cardinals offense. In fact, Manning actually owns a better Total QBR through the first 10 weeks than Palmer did, so it could even be an upgrade for the team.
3. Johnny Manziel to the Cincinnati Bengals
So long that Brian Hoyer continues to pile up wins for the Browns, it’s harder and harder to conceive coach Mike Pettine making the switch to put in the rookie.
Hoyer, 29, may not be the future of the Browns organization, but he’s doing everything in his power to lead the team to victory week in and week out, and so far that has translated into sole possession of first place in the AFC North, the first time this team has been in first place of a division since 1995.
Hoyer may be on the verge of earning a long-term deal in Cleveland, so what does that spell for Johnny Manziel, who’s eager to jump out onto the scene for an NFL team. Why not pair him with a division rival in Cincinnati, adding some intrigue to the storyline when these two teams meet twice a year.
Andy Dalton is getting a grand paycheck from the Bengals after re-upping with the team this summer, so financially this is completely unheard of. But Dalton’s ceiling is vastly limited, and he’s no longer having the regular-season success that once lifted the Bengals into the postseason.
Dalton, at best, is a game-manager. In a Hue Jackson-led offense with the likes of Giovani Bernard, A.J. Green and Mohamed Sanu, why not give a former Heisman Trophy winner a chance at taking it to new heights?
4. Cam Newton to the New York Jets
The Jets have swung and missed on two quarterbacks selected in the draft by two different regimes. First, they traded up to nab Mark Sanchez fifth overall in the 2009 draft, only to see his career slowly devolve until he was nearly run out of town.
Obviously, finding quarterbacks in the draft has not worked out very well for Gang Green. Newton has yet to sign a new deal in Carolina, and so long that there’s a patchwork offensive line protecting him, two oft-injured running backs to lean on and essentially one capable wide receiver on the roster, the organization isn’t exactly in the best shape to lure him back.
Newton has always chased superstar status, and by leaving Carolina and heading up New York he has a chance to be an ever bigger superstar. Not only does he have an opportunity to resurrect the lowly Jets and bring that franchise into the spotlight, the endorsements and increased media attention will surely follow.