As if the NFC South was not absolutely stacked already, the arrival of Tom Brady means that it is a murderers’ row now when it comes to quarterbacks.
Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Matt Ryan will all be fancying their chances. And in that 5-game span starting for the New Orleans Saints last year when the team went undefeated, Teddy Bridgewater showed enough to be considered a force himself.
Drew Brees taking on Tom Brady twice is a mouth-watering prospect for any football fan. But it’s not just about the two future Hall of Famers. It is undeniable that both of them are in the twilight of their careers. At 35 years of age, Matt Ryan is no spring chicken himself, and Teddy Bridgewater has his own history with injuries.
As a result, the backup quarterbacks could end up playing important roles through the course of the season as well. So with that in mind, let’s rank the entire quarterback room of the four NFC South teams.
After a 5-win season, the franchise has undergone a complete revamp in a quest to transform their fortunes.
After an impressive season playing as Drew Brees’ backup, Teddy Bridgewater signed a three-year contract with the Panthers. Now he will get another shot as the starting quarterback of a NFL team.
It is interesting how he will deal with the pressure though considering it was four seasons since he was last trusted with the role of leading a franchise.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, there is not much depth at quarterback. They have two unproven commodities in the form of Will Grier and P.J. Walker.
Grier is yet to throw a touchdown pass in his career. On the other hand, P.J. Walker last appeared for the Houston Roughnecks in the XFL. And while he led the XFL in passing yards and touchdowns, it will be very interesting to see if he manages to carry that form into the NFL.
As a result, it is safe to say that as things stand, Carolina Panthers are the weakest team in the NFC South when it comes to their quarterbacks.
#3. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons would have been comfortably sitting in the second spot if not for the Buccaneers’ blockbuster acquisition of Tom Brady.
Don’t get me wrong, Matt Ryan is great. In fact, he led the NFL with 408 completions last season. And while he has never managed to match his 2016 MVP season standards, he has never been that far off either.
Ryan also has very capable backup in the form of Matt Schaub. The 38-year-old is entering his 17th season in the NFL and his 8th for the Falcons. And while it has been years since he was the starting quarterback for a franchise, his incredible performance against the Seattle Seahawks last season showed that he is more than capable of turning back the clock when required.
The Falcons also managed to hold onto both Kurt Benkert and Danny Etling.
#2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Both the Buccaneers and the Falcons are coming off of 7-win seasons. But having replaced Jameis Winston with a 6-time Super Bowl winner in the form of Tom Brady, the Buccaneers are the better team right now - at least when it comes to quarterbacks.
For the first time in his career, Brady will be without the mastermind that is Bill Belichick. It will be very interesting to see how he does in Bruce Arians’ system, but it is safe to say that the future Hall of Famer will have enough weapons around him to make his stint at Tampa Bay a success.
Overall, the franchise should be in a better position with Brady as their starting quarterback than they were with Jameis Winston, who will be playing backup to Brees in New Orleans.
Brady, on the other hand, will have Blaine Gabbert as his number 2. The veteran is entering his tenth season in the league, and by this point is quite used to his role as backup.
Beyond that, the Buccaneers have former-Saint Ryan Griffin who has been with them since 2015. The franchise also picked up undrafted free agent Reid Sinnett, giving them a deep roster of quarterback talent.
#1 New Orleans Saints
Was there ever any doubt?
While all the buzz has surrounded Tom Brady, he is not the only future Hall of Fame quarterback in the NFC South.
Drew Brees will be entering what is possibly his last season, with the path to a future in broadcasting clear having already signed a deal with NBC. If this is indeed his last dance, Brees will surely be extra motivated to make a last run at the Super Bowl.
Despite being 41-years old, Brees rarely makes a mistake. And the edge that he enjoys over Brady is that the Saints team is clearly built around him with an offense designed to maximize his strengths and hide his weakening arm strength.
Playing backup to Brees will be former Buccaneer Jameis Winston. Winston led the league in interceptions last season, but there is no questioning the fact that he is a high-upside talent who the Saints managed to sign for next to nothing.
The Saints will be hoping that being around Sean Payton and Drew Brees will help Winston improve his decision-making. If he does get his chance, he will know that the stakes are high - he can just look at Teddy Bridgewater, who signed a three-year, $63-million contract on the back of the a series of spot-starts for an injured Brees.
And let’s not forget Taysom Hill. “The Human Swiss Army knife” might be still have his long-term future at quarterback, at least if you ask Sean Payton. And if one Taysom wasn’t enough, the Saints have also added rookie former Penn State QB/WR/RB Tommy Stevens, who they drafted in the seventh round of the 2020 NFL Draft.