NFL Teams with QB Transition Plans after 2021

Jun 1, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Kyle Trask (2) during organized team activities at AdventHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Nearly every NFL team has a plan at quarterback for the long-term, or at the very least, a handful of years into the future.

The only “exception” to this tendency is the Washington Football Team. Ryan Fitzpatrick will lead the charge in 2021 — in front of a robust, revamped Washington defense — but behind him on the QB depth chart is Taylor Heinicke, Kyle Allen, and Steven Montez. Unless Fitzpatrick enacts some Rich Gannon-like magic, his tenure in the nation’s capital will be short-lived. Why? Because that’s what happens to him at every step and stop of his gridiron journey. He nestles in as a starter, jettisoned thereafter for the next best thing.

A handful of quarterbacks drafted in the 1st Round of the 2021 NFL Draft will transition into starting gigs in 2021, not 2022. Think Trey Lance, Justin Fields, and Mac Jones. Those men are not included in this analysis as the aforementioned plans likely pertain to 2021 instead of 2022. Utilizing 1st-Round quarterbacks in Year One is downright commonplace this day in age. Teams used to wait for full seasons before a glimpse — not anymore. 

These are the teams with switch-over plans already in order, specifically for 2022 and beyond.

Houston Texans

The Texans made the cut due to the uncertainty of the Deshaun Watson saga. Before any of his legal hubbub surfaced, he demanded a trade out of Houston — a request that is almost lost in the shuffle with the controversy surrounding the quarterback. He doesn’t want to play for the Texans — and depending on the outcome of investigation(s), the Texans may not want anything to do with him.

The next in line is a hodgepodge of dudes. From rookie Davis Mills, Tyrod Taylor, and Jeff Driskel, the options a giant “meh.” Mills will likely get a look during life-after-Watson while Taylor and Driskel are backup types.

Dec 19, 2020; Pasadena, California, USA; Stanford Cardinal quarterback Davis Mills (15) sets to throw a pass in the first half of the game against the UCLA Bruins at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Whatever spoils the Texans exact from an eventual Watson trade will entail the Texans starting QB of the future. This transitional plan is unclear, but it will probably involve Mills or a man to be named via the fruits of the climactic Watson deal.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

This week, Tom Brady finally hinted that he indeed will not play forever. Up until now, though, Father Time is defeated.

Whether he repeats with Tampa Bay for another Super Bowl crown or falls short like most teams questing for back-to-back Lombardi trophies, Brady’s days are self-admittedly numbered. And that’s why the team took a flyer on Kyle Trask in the 2021 NFL Draft. He’s from the University of Florida and will remain in his collegiate state for NFL employment.

May 14, 2021; Tampa Bay, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Kyle Trask (2) calls an audible as head coach Bruce Arians (second from left) looks on during rookie mini-camp at AdventHealth Training Center Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The Buccaneers were spoiled in the draft, seemingly stacked at every roster position. Resultingly, the franchise had the luxury of using the “best player available” philosophy throughout the entirety of the draft.

When Brady departs, Trask will have a built-in, watch-and-learn experience behind the greatest football player to ever grace the sport. The transition could occur at this time next year or the season after that. That part is up to Brady.

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings own an almighty contingency plan for Kirk Cousins. General Manager Rick Spielman found Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond in the 3rd Round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Because Minnesota skimped at the QB2 spot over the last two years with Sean Mannion, Mond is the presumed backup quarterback now — at least in the minds of fans.

Jun 15, 2021; in Eagen, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kellen Mond (11) throws the ball during drills at OTA at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

Now, Cousins could actionize a deep playoff run and render Mond’s presence on the roster as quasi-useless. But if the team fumbles its way to another 7-9 campaign like last year, the Vikings will begin a pivot away from Cousins. His contract is sizable and the frequent chatter of criticism. In that regard, Mond would be the anti-Cousins. Minnesota could hop on the “rookie deal” train for a few years, fortifying the roster around a young quarterback and the likes of Justin Jefferson, Danielle Hunter, and Dalvin Cook.

Pittsburgh Steelers

This one is the least clear of the bunch.

The Steelers spent a few weeks this offseason apparently vacillating between another year of Ben Roethlisberger and possibly venturing into a new, younger direction. Ultimately, Mike Tomlin and friends re-upped with Roethlisberger, an assured testament to 17 years of service with the organization.

Otherwise, the team might give Dwyane Haskins a peek. He’s an ex-1st Rounder from Ohio State that was beset by a pear-shaped first couple of years as a pro.

Jun 15, 2021; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Dwayne Haskins (3) participates in drills during minicamp held at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers loyalists might roll eyeballs as a reaction to this, but the man was an oft-celebrated prospect exiting the college ranks. It is not out of the realm of possibility that the 24-year-old could blossom in time with a spoonful of maturity.

Who better to whisk this to fruition than Tomlin and an accredited Steelers organization?