Minnesota, the Ringer staff feels for you right now. Losing Teddy Bridgewater puts your team, which previously looked like a solid contender, in a tough situation. Luckily, we can help you out. There are myriad great quarterbacks we can sell you on to help with your Super Bowl run. These guys are great — they’re just what you’re looking for! Any blemishes you may see are purely cosmetic, we promise. Trust us!
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
Attn: Rick Spielman
Subject: Strong-armed, veteran QB available
What if I told you that an established, 10-year veteran could be your quarterback this year? Sounds pretty good, right? And what if I told you this same guy was one of the more physically talented quarterbacks you’ve ever seen, with an arm that can solve every bit of your deep-passing woes from a year ago? Even better, right?
I’m tellin’ ya, Rick — Jay Cutler is your man. You know as well as I do that you’re going nowhere fast with Shaun Hill. I know Jay’s had his issues, but at the very least, he gives you a (very drunken) puncher’s chance. Not only does Jay give Norv Turner a chance to embrace his sling-it-downfield roots, but he’s also used to playing behind an offensive line not all that interested in blocking people. Last year, he even did pretty well behind one!
I know what you’re going to say — with Jay’s $17 million cap hit, the financial gymnastics might be tough to pull off. But anything is possible when you want it badly enough. Cutler may seem like a luxury, but with the roster you’ve put together, you deserve this. C’mon, Rick. Treat yo self.
Rubie Edmondson: Dear Minnesota Vikings,
The sad reality of this situation is that no matter who’s under center, you’re probably going to lose, and you’re probably going to lose a lot. So why not lose in the most efficient way possible, with a quarterback who’s intimately familiar with losing in the NFC North?
To achieve the goal of losing quickly, there’s no better QB choice than Jay Cutler. With a decade of experience, Jay is extraordinarily talented in losing to other NFC North teams. As the Bears’ starter he’s a combined 16–21 against divisional opponents, with a staggering 2–10 record vs. Green Bay alone. Come on, you were never going to win at Lambeau anyway. Why bother with a quarterback who would actually try? I promise you, no one will care less about your team than Cutler — and no one will set the bar lower for Teddy Bridgewater’s triumphant return next season. The truth is, Jay will probably get intercepted more from the pocket than Teddy would while hurling bombs downfield from the bench. You’ll grow numb to it after a few games.
In summary, Jay Cutler would be a perfect replacement quarterback for your team. I’m sure you can work with him on the whole “Minnesota Nice” thing.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets
Ryan O’Hanlon: Come here, buddy. Come on. Closer. Closer. What? Why are you pointing at my throat? Oh, that thing? That’s just a tattoo artist’s rendering of Raphael’s St. Michael Vanquishing Satan, but instead of the archangel stabbing the devil with a spear, it’s Geno Smith throwing a perfect game against the Dolphins in Week 17 of the the 2014 NFL season. Anyway, I’ve got a deal for you — don’t be scared. Listen up; you don’t want anyone else to hear.
I want to give you Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Yes, that Ryan Fitzpatrick. Did you know he went to Harvard? He went to Harvard. He went to Harvard and threw 31 NFL touchdowns last year. You know how many people have played for Harvard and have thrown 30 touchdown passes in an NFL season? I bet Ryan Fitzpatrick could tell you that, because he went to Harvard, where he got a degree in economics, which can be crudely — and frankly, unsatisfactorily — defined as “the study of the allocation of goods and services,” and even though I didn’t go to Harvard, which is where Ryan Fitzpatrick, who went to Harvard, went, I can tell you that you should “acquire” the “good” “service” of Ryan Fitzpatrick, who, OK, yes, definitely, definitely once lost to his 8-year-old son in a Rubik’s Cube contest, has had no more than one actually good season as a professional football player, is nearly the same age as the Duke of Cambridge, and frequently dives headfirst into oncoming defenders with the soulless abandon of an aluminum crash test dummy, but went to Harvard.
Geno Smith, New York Jets
Sam Schube: Geno Smith’s sins are legion: He slipped to the second round in the draft. He posted a dreadful rookie season. He got kicked off a plane. He reportedly refused to pay up a debt to a teammate, who then broke his jaw. He broke doctors’ orders by playing catch in his driveway mere days after surgery on that jaw. And then he lost his job to Ryan Fitzpatrick, with Smith’s 13-TD-13-INT presence on the roster giving Harvard Boy’s camp enough leverage to hold out for a deal and the starting job. In the anti-distraction NFL, it’s easy to chalk these up as Classic Diva Quarterback mistakes: aggressive self-esteem, insufficient generosity, a basic misunderstanding of how planes work.
I would like to argue the opposite: that Smith’s sins aren’t sins at all. Second-round slippage? Draftniks are dingbats. Bad rookie year? You try playing quarterback for Rex Ryan. The broken jaw? Again: second round — my guy doesn’t have rookie-scale cash to splash around. Swap in Russell Wilson and tell me he’s not lauded for maintaining his principles in the face of violence. And the longer we spend talking about what a train wreck his career has been, the longer we ignore this fact: The last time Geno Smith started a regular-season game, all the way back in 2014, he hung a 20/25–358 yards–3TD line on the Dolphins. Geno Smith has a code, and he’s going to live by it. And if that’s not enough: Smith’s jaw is made of metal now. Your next quarterback: motherfucking Tony Stark.
Christian Hackenberg, New York Jets
Sean Fennessey: Sure, take Geno. Take Fitzmagic. Take the other non-Jets jokers. But think of pedigree. Of unvarnished talent. A cannon arm. A sound and durable physique. A youthful yet steely countenance. A haircut like a loaf of crusty artisanal bread. A big block head. What more could you want in the QB1 of your future?
Completion percentage, you say? A reach in the second round, you say? Not on my goddamn life or the lives of my children, you say? Fine. But think again of Christian Hackenberg’s haircut and ask yourself: Do I want to go to the Super Bowl, or do I want to win the Super Bowl? Geno and Fitz may take you to the promised land. But Hack shows you how to get to the promised land behind the promised land. I promise.
(Please take him.)
Chase Daniel, Philadelphia Eagles
Chris Ryan: I know, I know! “I didn’t need another in the first place.” That’s what you’re thinking, right? Well, look, Sam Bradford, he always gets up and running fine, and he’s OK for short distances, like from your house to the pharmacy and back, but you never know when one of the wheels might fall off. And don’t even ask me about depending on a Bradford for road trips, because I wouldn’t even know. Shit, what can I say? We paid a lot of money for him, so it looks like we gotta keep him. We got rid of the 2016 Sanchez we had in the garage. Sold it to a guy in Denver with a nice ring, though I hear he’s having issues. I got my own issues. Poured all these draft picks into a brand-new Carson Wentz with a ton of horsepower and a huge engine, but — and you seem like a decent guy, so let me level with you — he ain’t exactly one of these Bluetooth Smart Cars. Let’s leave it at that. Thing is, I got a lot tied up in him. Gotta see where that takes me. Which makes my Chase Daniel totally expendable. Look, you might be thinking, “He’s been around the league a while; probably got a lot of mileage on him.” Brother, you could not be more dead wrong. This one’s been wearing a headset underneath a dust cover in the garage for years. Only 77 attempted passes in six seasons. Hardly got a grass stain on him! Runs like new! Hasn’t even really run before, to be honest. I got too many. Take one off my hands.
Sam Bradford, Philadelphia Eagles
Michael Baumann: Dearest Vikings of Minnesota,
Chase Daniel isn’t the Eagles quarterback you need — Sam Bradford is.
In a time of crisis, the most important thing is maintaining continuity. The Vikings’ season starts in 10 days — that’s not enough time to retool an offense built for Teddy Bridgewater around whoever the Millennial Jeff George is. You need a quarterback like Bridgewater, who faces questions about his arm strength and durability, and nobody illustrates the physical toll of NFL football quite like Sam Bradford, and nobody throws short of the sticks quite like Sam Bradford. He’s the Gaston of checkdowns.
Plus, with Phil Loadholt gone, who’s going to yell “Boomer Sooner” at Adrian Peterson? Bradford thrives with a fellow Sooner alongside him in the backfield — just look at what he accomplished with DeMarco Murray last year! (Don’t look at what he accomplished with DeMarco Murray last year.)
And sure, you might find his contract odious, but I can think of no more fitting tribute to your new $1 billion stadium (that looks like a Jawa Sandcrawler) than to anoint it with another hideous financial boondoggle.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, friends. Howie Roseman is waiting for your call.
Katie Baker: In this dark time of need, dear Minnesota Vikings, I’m sure some have been counseling you to bring back the likes of, say, Christian Ponder. But I implore you to instead ponder The Christian. Sure, Tim Tebow may have admitted the other day in an interview with the NFL Network that he’s closed the door on football. But that’s only because God hasn’t opened this window of opportunity yet. And true, the baseball scouts at his workout the other day may have pinpointed his “throwing” as his biggest weakness. But haven’t you ever seen Moneyball? You can’t trust anything those old dinosaurs say. I’m not sure if Tim Tebow believes in dinosaurs, but I do know that he believes in being unsettlingly, suspiciously nice: just like Minnesotans!
Even if this perfect personnel fit doesn’t sway you, there are definite football reasons to make this move. Earlier this summer, the Vikings defense was declared the “third most underrated unit” in the NFL. What better way to get those guys the playing time and attention they deserve than by throwing in a quarterback who could barely keep his offense on the field the last time he was a starter? That’s true selflessness, and that’s the Tebow way. Skol!
Landry Jones, Pittsburgh Steelers
Caitlin Blosser: Let’s face it, Minnesota, the 36-year-old Shaun Hill, with 49 TDs and 30 interceptions in 10 seasons, is not your answer at quarterback. You can try to rely on your burgeoning defense, but it’s not quite at the level of the Denver Broncos. This is where Landry Jones comes in. Aside from wearing awesome flannels, Jones has every attribute desired in a prototypical pocket passer. At 6-foot-4, 225, he has Ben Roethlisberger’s physique, has been learning under Roethlisberger for three seasons, and when he has played, he’s shined. When Michael Vick was struggling against a tough Cardinals defense last year, Jones came in and threw two touchdowns, leading the Steelers to a comeback victory. Yes, he did throw four interceptions in one half against the Eagles this preseason, but he came back and redeemed himself by completing 19 of 22 passes against the Saints.
To top it off, he’s an Aries, so this is really a no-brainer.
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
Jonathan Tjarks: He’s still an awesome QB, and he’s definitely not breaking down faster than a car with 200,000 miles on it. His injury history — a ruptured disk in 2013, two transverse process fractures to his back in 2014, two broken collarbones in 2015, a compression fracture last week — really isn’t that bad, because everyone knows back injuries never linger in your late 30s. It’s a good thing his playing style isn’t based on extending plays, dancing around pass rushers, and taking risks, because he definitely doesn’t look like an old man being thrown down a flight of stairs when he’s getting hit. The NFL is a gentleman’s league, so opposing players won’t try to injure him further, which would turn the massive sums of money he is owed over the next few years into a salary cap albatross.
Jimmy Garoppolo, New England Patriots
Justin Sayles: I’m not here to sell you a lemon, but rather a young, effortlessly handsome quarterback set to start for a Super Bowl contender. You’ll likely have to overpay, but the trade wouldn’t just help your title hopes, it would do the nation a solid by sparing us months of reckless debates. Yes, Minnesota, I’m proposing you trade for Jimmy Garoppolo now before the hot-takes economy self-immolates in a blaze of Tom Brady slander later.
Tom’s out for the first four games, and we know what happens when we’re Brady-less: After the GOAT got Bernard Pollard’d in the 2008 opener, Matt Cassel took control of a fighter jet that had gone 16–0 the previous season (stop laughing) and brought it in for an 11–5 landing. Afterward, a loud, dumb chorus of fans proposed keeping Cassel and trading Brady, the man who had already won three Lombardi Trophies for the longtime league doormat. When Bill Belichick traded Cassel instead, there was Serious Debate over whether the return on this guy was fair.
As of now, this is where we’re headed: Jimmy Dimples goes 3–1 while doing things Pats fans haven’t seen in decades (like completing 20-yard passes and not moving like the Mummy in the pocket). Then, having not played a meaningful snap since January, Brady looks rusty in his Week 5 return. “He’s lost a step,” Jim Nantz will say. “At 39 years old, Brady is almost 40,” Phil Simms will say. And the fans? Well …
Look, it’s not just about giving me (and Belichick) peace: You’d be getting a third-year signal-caller who has impressed scouts with his accuracy and ability to throw receivers open. Will he be good? Who knows! But even if he’s replacement-level, you’re going to sell out of jerseys once people see his face. And hey, the Pats don’t need him: They’re going at least .500 in September whether it’s the Italian Stallion (ugh), Jacoby Brissett, or Damon fucking Huard throwing the ball to these Goliaths. So come on, pony up a few picks. It’s not like Brady’s backups have failed to meet expectations before.