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2019 Detroit Lions free agency preview: Quarterbacks

We kick off our positional free agency breakdown with quarterbacks... or backup quarterbacks.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Miami Dolphins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

With free agency exactly a week away, it’s time to preview the Detroit Lions and what they may do over the next month. We’re going to break down each position on the roster, measure Detroit’s level of need based on their current assets and outline some of the most notable players expected to be available in free agency.

Today, we start with quarterback. Lately, there’s been a lot of talk about Matthew Stafford and his long-term status with the team, but there’s little chance Detroit moves on from him this offseason. However, the backup position is very much still in flux.

Currently under contract

Matthew Stafford

  • Signed through 2022
  • $29.5 million cap in 2019

Connor Cook

  • Signed through 2019
  • $685,000 cap hit

Pending free agents

Matt Cassel (unrestricted)

The addition of Connor Cook means the Lions’ backup quarterback battle will be different from years past. With Jake Rudock off to pursue better opportunities (currently with the Dolphins), the Lions will need to make a tough decision. Do they keep Matt Cassel, a quarterback head coach Matt Patricia knows and is comfortable with? Do they move on and find a more reliable free agent on the market? Or do they draft yet another young, developmental passer, hoping to finally strike gold in the mid-to-late rounds?

Level of need: 3/10

The Lions’ backup situation is not good by any means, but the Lions have been lucky enough to not really need one for the past few years. That’s a gamble that will eventually cost Detroit. However, it seems more likely the Lions fix this via the draft this year rather than free agency.

Top free agents available

Nick Foles - The Super Bowl-winning Eagles quarterback was too rich for Philly to keep, and he’s clearly seeking a starting job. It looks like the Jaguars may already have this deal waiting to be made, so he’s not a realistic option in Detroit.

Teddy Bridgewater - After serving as the Saints backup on a cheap one-year, $6 million contract, Bridgewater could be on the move. His talent is a relative unknown, as he’s only thrown 25 passes since his brutal leg injury in 2016, but the ceiling is high for the former first-round pick.

Tyrod Taylor - After his unceremonious departure from Buffalo, Taylor saw himself again get quickly replaced. Entering 2018 as the starter for the Browns, he was quickly benched in favor of rookie Baker Mayfield and never came close to reclaiming his throne. Taylor has a good amount of experience and isn’t as old as some other options (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown), but his play has been more bad than good recently.

Best fit

Matt Cassel - Fans aren’t going to like hearing this, but sometimes your best option is the most familiar. Detroit could go and grab a veteran in free agency, but there just isn’t a lot of talent out there. Detroit’s best bet is to keep things familiar in the quarterback room and either hope that Cook or a mid-round draft pick helps push competition at the position.

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