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Nearing The End of a Great Quarterback Era

A number of young Quarterbacks have recently been getting a lot of hype, but what about the remaining years of possible Hall of Famers? What do the great but aging QB’s have left?

Players like Eli Manning, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, and Drew Brees don’t have much longer before father time comes around. We are truly nearing the end of a great quarterback era.

You could very well see all five of those names inducted into the Hall of Fame one day. They’ve combined for 10 Super Bowl rings and 8 Super Bowl MVPs.

Now there’s a new age in the position. Guys such as Cam Newton, Dak Prescott, and Carson Wentz will soon take over as the league’s best.

So how much longer do their respective franchises have until they need pass the torch to a younger quarterback?

ELI MANNING

Giants general manager Jerry Reese said this offseason that “Eli has however much time that he has left, two or three years left in his contract or however long he plays.”

Reese also made a statement when he selected Davis Webb out of California in the 3rd round of the draft.

Not that Webb will 100% take Manning’s spot in the future, but it definitely means that there is a blueprint for replacing the 36-year old veteran. Eli still has three seasons remaining on the four-year, $84 million extension that went into effect last year and from a financial perspective, it wouldn’t make sense to cut ties with Eli before his contract is up.

Although Eli claims he could go another 4 years, that’s an aggressive statement. I’ll give him credit though, starting in 200 straight games is a lot harder than it sounds.

In reality, even if he bounces back this season with this young core of talent led by superstar Odell Beckham Jr, it’s very unlikely Reese extends a pushing 40-year old.

Giants fans have to face it, but once his contract expires in 2020, the Eli Manning era will be officially over.

 

PHILIP RIVERS

From San Diego to Los Angeles, Philip Rivers has been the face of the Chargers franchise since 2004.

He took over for Drew Brees in 2006 and hasn’t looked back since and just like Eli, Rivers also hasn’t missed one snap.

On the other end of the spectrum there’s no doubt he’s been on a slow but steady decline. While he’s still throwing well above 4,000 yards a season and throwing for over 25 touchdowns, his rating has dropped from 105.5 to 87.9 since 2013. Rivers will turn 36 on December 8th and Kellen Clemens, his backup, is just 3 years younger.

Head coach Anthony Lynn also said “it’s time for the Chargers to draft young QB.” The Chargers have selected just one quarterback in the draft under general manager Tom Telesco. His name was Brad Sorensen in the seventh round of the 2013 draft, who is currently suiting up for the Minnesota Vikings.

The Chargers aren’t exactly in a position to compete anytime soon. The Raiders and Chiefs could be potential Super Bowl contenders and the Broncos beat them 24-21 in week 1, so Los Angeles is clearly the weakest team in the division.

Rivers’ contract expires in 2019, it would be wise to select a young quarterback in the next draft, especially assuming they will have a high pick, then have him grow and develop under Rivers.

 

BEN ROETHLISBERGER

Another 35-year old, Big Ben has won 2 Super Bowls and has already clinched his way into the Hall of Fame.

But after a devastating loss to the Patriots in the AFC championship game last season, he would have to really consider how much he has left in the tank.

Roethlisberger has said in the past he’ll continue playing until his body tells him to shut it down. His contract extension runs through 2019 but I wouldn’t be surprised if he calls it quits one year before his contract expires.

While he’s still in position to contend for his 3rd ring, he’s taken some hard hits in his day. Physically he could probably play 4 more seasons, but it’s the mentally draining aspect of it to not stay on the field and force him out.

The Steelers must start to plan for a life without Roethlisberger starting after next season, even if it means trading valuable assets for a pick. His time window isn’t closed just yet, and he could very well get one more Lombardi trophy before retiring.

 

DREW BREES

Drew Brees and his Saints finished last season 7-9 and missing the postseason.

While Brees still orchestrated another 5,000-yard performance and finished as the NFL’s passing leader for the third-straight season, his ultimate goal of another ring isn’t anywhere close it appears.

He signed a five-year extension with the Saints in September 2016, a deal designed to help New Orleans with their salary cap. However, Brees has an opt-out option in his contract following the 2017-2018 season. He’s guaranteed no money beyond that point and can essentially walk if he desires.

Brees is 38 years old, and is as rare as a quarterback as they come. Over the course of his legendary career, he’s thrown for 66,402 yards and 466 touchdowns. Drew could very well still have a lot left in the tank, but it’s his teams built around him that have frustrated him year after year.

Since 2013, the Saints have appeared in the playoffs just once, losing in the division game to Seahawks 23-15.

Each season after that, they’ve gone 7-9 not making another playoff appearance. It also marks the fourth time in five seasons that Brees and the Saints have finished under .500.

Realistically and physically, he has a lot more yards and touchdowns within him, but a player like Brees can only take so many losing seasons with just one Super Bowl ring.

There’s a good chance he opts out after this season and retires with the team.

 

TOM BRADY

I decided to save the best for last. Tom Brady led the Patriots to the greatest Super Bowl comeback in the history of the sport. It was also his 5th ring and 4th MVP.

The 40 year old is still the best in the league at what he does, but even the greatest quarterback of all time can’t escape father time.

Although Brady can opt out after this season, we all know that won’t happen. His contract expires in 2019 into his age 42 season.

Brady’s scenario is the most interesting. He’s still healthy and arguably could play another 4-5 years if his body stays the way it is now.

The Patriots turned some heads this past offseason deciding to hold on to backup Jimmy Garoppolo rather than trade him for a number of draft picks.

It could mean they’re just preparing for life after Brady, or they just prefer having the best starting and backup QB duo in the NFL.

Brady has said multiple times “I’ll play as long as I can” but I believe 4-5 years is too unrealistic.

It’s really hard to tell how long he has left. The Patriots are in a position to win the Super Bowl year after year and you know Brady isn’t going to pass on the opportunity for another ring, even if he already has enough for each finger on one hand.

The only dilemma I face with Brady is that if there is a quarterback to play until their mid-40s and break record books like no one else, it’s going to be him.

But either way, don’t be surprised with what path he takes after 2019. He could decide it’s time to start a new chapter of his life, or extend his career 2-3 more years under Bill Belichick’s system and win more rings.

About Robbie Callaghan

Yankees, Knicks, NY Giants, NY Rangers.

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