NFL Analysis


8 min read

2024 NFL Free Agency: Ranking Top 9 QBs On This Year's Market

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) signals his team against the San Francisco 49ers in the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in several years, the free-agent quarterback market is expected to be robust. And there rarely is a time when a franchise quarterback is available. But that is the case as we enter the 2024 offseason.

Here are the top nine quarterbacks that are expected to test free agency in March:

Ranking Top Free Agent QBs

1. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

The crown jewel of the 2024 class is Kirk Cousins. Cousins is as consistent as it comes, posting a passer rating of 101.2 since 2018. While he might not be as dynamic as the NFL's elite quarterbacks, Cousins is highly efficient, and his game has only improved as he’s aged.

You can make a case Cousins was having the best year of his career in 2023 before he got hurt. The Minnesota Vikings were on a decent winning streak, and Cousins beat quality teams despite not having his No. 1 receiver, Justin Jefferson.

His best performance came against the 49ers when he threw for 378 yards and three touchdowns in a 22-17 win. He remains one of the league's most accurate quarterbacks and has done an even better job of beating the blitz in recent years.

The two biggest knocks on Cousins are his age (he will be 36 before the 2024 season) and his health. Cousins suffered a torn Achilles in the middle of the 2023 season, and it's fair to wonder if he'll be ready for Week 1.

That won't stop teams from shelling out a ton of money for Cousins and, frankly, it's deserved. Top 12 quarterbacks rarely hit the open market, but that will be the case with him in a few months.

Expect several teams to be interested in signing Cousins to a short-term deal and for him to be one of the NFL's highest-paid quarterbacks.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield prepares to throw a pass.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield passed for 206 yards against the Detroit Lions in Week 6 at Raymond James Stadium. (Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports)

2. Baker Mayfield, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

One of the best stories in the NFL this season is Baker Mayfield's career resurrection. Last season, he was outright cut by the Carolina Panthers and spent the remainder of the season with the Rams.

Mayfield signed a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to compete with Kyle Trask for the starting job, and now he is two wins away from the Super Bowl.

Mayfield has always been a talented player, but he’s needed the right coach and situation to thrive. His numbers are better than ever, throwing for 28 touchdowns with only 10 interceptions. But what is more impressive is how his teammates have responded to him.

It's clear that they love him and believe they can make a run with Mayfield behind center. In many ways, that is the most important part of the gig. 

With all the success Mayfield is having in Tampa Bay, it would be a major upset if he didn’t land back with the Buccaneers in 2024. But don’t be surprised if several other teams come knocking at his door, offering him big money. He’s only 28 and is finally starting to hit his groove as a franchise quarterback.

3. Gardner Minshew, Indianapolis Colts

Figuring out the market for Gardner Minshew is incredibly difficult. Undoubtedly, he is one of the NFL's top 32 quarterbacks. He proved that again this season, going 7-6 as the starter in Indianapolis.

He has a career passer rating of 90.2, and his overall efficiency is pretty average compared to the rest of the league's starting quarterbacks.

The issue is Minshew’s limited tools and upside keep him from being a franchise quarterback. He's somewhere between the No. 20 and No. 25 quarterback in the NFL, and that's just not good enough for most teams to invest a ton of money in.

The best outcome for Minshew would be returning to the Indianapolis Colts on a contract extension to backup Anthony Richardson again. Richardson is coming off shoulder surgery, and there is no guarantee how he will play when he gets back.

The Colts know they can compete with Minshew, and he runs Shane Steichen's offense well. Expect him to return to Indianapolis on a short deal. 

Sam Darnold breaks a tackle vs. Los Angeles Rams
Jan 7, 2024; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) fumbles while being tackled by Los Angeles Rams defensive end Desjuan Johnson (bottom) during the fourth quarter at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

4. Sam Darnold, San Francisco 49ers

After a couple of rough seasons in Carolina, Sam Darnold spent the 2023 season under Kyle Shanahan and behind Brock Purdy. He did get the opportunity to start one game (Week 18) and played well, considering Christian McCaffrey, Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel and George Kittle were all out of the lineup.

After a year in San Francisco, will any team be open to bringing in Darnold to compete for a starting job? The answer is probably no despite being only 26 and having 56 starts.

There is an outside chance that Darnold could be the next Mayfield or Jared Goff on the right team, but it's more likely he returns to San Francisco to be the backup again. 

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill
Tennessee Titans running back Tyjae Spears (32) celebrates his touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars with quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) during the second quarter at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn.

5. Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans

Things have gone south for Ryan Tannehill during the last few seasons. In the previous two years, Tannehill has dealt with multiple lower body injuries, limiting him to just 20 starts. The good news is when Tannehill is healthy, he can still be a decent quarterback on the right team.

Tannehill will turn 36 this offseason, and his days as a franchise quarterback are over. However, he could still be a quality backup on the right team and a plus starter for a few games. Expect teams like Cleveland, Indianapolis and Philadelphia to be in the market for Tannehill's services this offseason. 

Sep 10, 2023; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Commanders quarterback Jacoby Brissett (12) stands with assistant head coach/offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy during the first half Arizona Cardinals at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

6. Jacoby Brissett, Washington Commanders

After starting 11 games during the 2022 season, Jacoby Brissett was locked in as a backup in 2023. Brissett threw just 23 passes as Sam Howell's backup. The good news is the offense for the Washington Commanders got better whenever he played. That could be more of an indictment on Howell, but Brissett can still be an effective quarterback in spurts.

Brissett is only 31 and does have 48 career starts with multiple teams. And while he certainly isn’t a high-end starter or a future option, Brissett would be a considerable upgrade for at least a half-dozen teams. Expect him to be a backup again in 2024, but to be in a situation where he might have a better chance of getting on the field again. 

Jameis Winston throws a pass vs. Green Bay Packers
Sep 24, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston (2) throws a pass during the third quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

7. Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints

The career arc of Jameis Winston remains one of the wildest things you will see. From 2015-2019, Winston threw 2,548 passes and averaged an impressive 7.7 yards per attempt. The interceptions were always an issue, but Winston was never afraid to throw the ball downfield and was a pretty effective quarterback for the most part.

But since 2020, Winston has thrown just 334 passes as he’s been the primary backup in New Orleans. He has started just 10 games during the past four seasons but has looked good whenever he’s been on the field. 

The most likely outcome is Winston will remain the backup quarterback in New Orleans on a new deal, but it wouldn’t be a total shock if another team or two were interested in bringing him in. Winston is just 30 and is in the best shape of his life. 

With the recent success of Goff and Mayfield, it might be worth giving this former No. 1 overall pick another shot in a different situation. 

Tyler Huntley running against Tennessee
Aug 11, 2022; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley (2) runs during the second quarter of a preseason game against the Tennessee Titans at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jessica Rapfogel-USA TODAY Sports

8. Tyler Huntley, Baltimore Ravens

Tyler Huntley is one of the more fascinating names on this list. A Pro Bowler during the 2022 season, Huntley has just nine career starts in four seasons, and his overall numbers are pretty pedestrian. He has a career passer rating of 79.0 and averages only 5.7 yards per attempt.

However, he is only 25 and can be a really effective runner, at times. It wouldn't be a shock if he carved out a Tyrod Taylor-like career, who just so happened to start his career in Baltimore, too.

But don't expect Huntley to get anything more than a backup job in free agency. It would be a big shock if another team stole him from the Ravens.

New York Giants quarterback Tyrod Taylor
New York Giants quarterback Tyrod Taylor (2) looks for an open teammate in the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, January 7, 2024.

9. Tyrod Taylor, New York Giants

Even at age 34, you can make a strong case that Tyrod Taylor was the best quarterback for the New York Giants this season. The team went 2-3 in his five starts, and one of those games (against the Buffalo Bills) could have easily gone in New York's favor if not for a controversial no-call.

While the sample size is small, Taylor proved to be an effective quarterback when he was on the field. He had a passer rating of 89.1 while completing more than 64 percent of his passes. He is still a threat as a runner, and his accuracy has improved in the last few years.

Taylor isn't a long-term option for any team nor should he be a starting quarterback. However, he is one of the NFL's best backup quarterbacks and would be an asset for franchises that need a solid veteran presence in their quarterback room.

Look for teams with young quarterbacks on rookie deals to bring in Taylor as a backup.