'Here are the best available free agent NFL quarterbacks' originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Cam Newton is back on an NFL roster, and it is a familiar one.
The 2015 NFL MVP reportedly met with Carolina Panthers brass, including head coach Matt Rhule, on Thursday, and shortly agreed to terms with his former team. Panthers starter Sam Darnold was placed on injured reserve this week, leaving the team with P.J. Walker and Matt Barkley at QB before Newton signed.
Newton was drafted No. 1 overall by the Panthers in the 2011 NFL Draft and played his first nine professional seasons in Carolina. He joined the New England Patriots in 2020 and started 15 games as the team missed the playoffs. The Patriots cut Newton following the 2021 preseason in favor of rookie QB Mac Jones.
Newton joining the Panthers is a significant reunion, and it also signals another veteran quarterback who is off the market. Should any team need to sign a QB, who can they turn to now?
Here are some veteran signal-callers who are still available:
Robert Griffin III
Robert Griffin III took the NFL by storm when he was drafted second overall by Washington in 2012. Injuries quickly derailed his career, but he hung around the league as a reserve. He last played for the Baltimore Ravens in 2020, making one start against the Pittsburgh Steelers as the Ravens dealt with COVID-19 absences.
Griffin has kept a football frame of mind despite not being on an NFL roster. He signed a deal with ESPN as a college football and NFL analyst in August.
Philip Rivers announced his retirement from the NFL in January, but it doesn’t sound like he’s closed the door on a possible return.
The former Chargers and Colts QB became a high school football coach in Alabama and his team’s season ended at the end of October. He told Sam Farmer of The Los Angeles Times that he would have been interested in a call from Sean Payton and the Saints following Jameis Winston’s season-ending injury in Week 9.
The Saints wound up sticking with a QB room of Trevor Siemian, Taysom Hill and Ian Book. Would Rivers pick up the phone if another team called?
Matt Moore’s last NFL action came with the Chiefs in 2019. He made a pair of starts in Patrick Mahomes’ absence, losing to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football and beating the Minnesota Vikings at home the following week.
Moore came back from a year-long absence to join the Chiefs that season, and he hasn’t formally announced his NFL retirement just yet.
Finley made four starts over the last two seasons as a backup with the Cincinnati Bengals. He was eventually replaced by another reserve, Brandon Allen, last November.
The Houston Texans traded a seventh-round draft pick to acquire Finley this past offseason, but they waived him in May.
“Duck” Hodges made six starts after Ben Roethlisberger and Mason Rudolph went down during the 2019 season. The Steelers went 3-3 in his starts, but he hasn’t stepped on an NFL field since.
Hodges spent the 2020 season on the Steelers’ practice squad and was released by the Los Angeles Rams in August.
DeShone Kizer’s NFL career got off to a disastrous start and never recovered.
The former Notre Dame QB was drafted by the Cleveland Browns and made 15 starts in 2017. The Browns went on to make dreaded history that season, finishing 0-16 and becoming the second team to go winless for an entire season.
Kizer was traded to the Packers following the 2017 season. He made it into three games in Green Bay in 2018 and has not gotten any regular season action over the last three seasons.
Kizer signed with the Tennessee Titans’ practice squad in November 2020 and was cut by the team a month before the 2021 season began.
Colin Kaepernick is still available, as well.
From 2011 to 2016, Kaepernick has 72 passing touchdowns, 30 interceptions and 13 rushing touchdowns across 69 games.