There was a very under-the-radar free-agent signing in the NFL on Wednesday, and that was the Jacksonville Jaguars adding former San Francisco 49ers quarterback CJ Beathard presumably as the team's 2021 backup to Trevor Lawrence, who is a lock to be the No. 1 overall pick in April's draft. The Beathard addition plus having 2020 sixth-round pick Jake Luton on the roster almost surely means former Jags starter Gardner Minshew will be traded before the draft, and SportsLine offers odds on his next team.
Earlier Wednesday, we wrote about how the 49ers and Chicago Bears were big losers with the Philadelphia Eagles signing Joe Flacco because the Niners were looking at Flacco as a backup to Jimmy Garoppolo and the Bears were hoping to trade their No. 2, Nick Foles, to Philadelphia.
After losing out on Flacco and Mitchell Trubisky and with guys like Tyrod Taylor, Jacoby Brissett and Ryan Fitzpatrick off the market, the Niners trading a mid-round pick for Minshew makes too much sense NOT to happen. GM John Lynch said one of his priorities this offseason was upgrading behind the injury-prone Garoppolo and the only other QBs on the roster are Josh Rosen (bust) and Josh Johnson (never good).
Minshew is an ugly 7-13 as a starter, but remember he was on a terrible team. The 2019 sixth-round pick out of Washington State has completed 62.9 percent of his passes career for 5,530 yards, 37 TDs, 11 picks and a rating of 93.1 that would have ranked 22nd in the league last year and ahead of Teddy Bridgewater, Jared Goff, Joe Burrow, Andy Dalton and Cam Newton, among others. The remaining two years of Minshew's rookie contract are worth less than $2 million in total money.
The Niners have a tie to Minshew as he played in the 2019 Senior Bowl for the South Team, which was coached by San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan. For a point of reference, Garoppolo had a 67.5 Pro Football Focus Grade last season. Minshew's grade was 67.8.
Jacksonville obviously will only accept the best offer, however. Could Seattle bring Minshew back to the Pacific Northwest? Russell Wilson's 2020 backup was Geno Smith, who is a free agent.
Staying in the NFC West, Arizona is all-in this season after adding the likes of AJ Green and JJ Watt, and Minshew would be a better No. 2 behind Kyler Murray than former CFL quarterback Chris Streveler. However, we have taken Arizona off this list as the Cards apparently will sign journeyman Colt McCoy.
The Vikings, meanwhile, had the forgettable Sean Mannion as Kirk Cousins' backup last season and Mannion is a free agent. Dallas certainly needs a better backup to Dak Prescott with Dalton now in Chicago.
Minshew had been linked to the Bears, but they can't possibly trade for him now after blowing the Foles deal with Jacksonville last offseason and just signing Dalton. I suppose the Super Bowl champion Bucs have to be listed as they don't have a No. 2 for Tom Brady currently.
In the AFC, Minshew would be a nice security blanket to the Chargers' Justin Herbert (currently Easton Stick) or could provide competition in Denver to Drew Lock (Brett Rypien).
Both Indianapolis (Jacob Eason) and Tennessee (Logan Woodside) have untested backups, but there's little chance the Jags would trade Minshew inside the AFC South Division.
Let's not rule out the Jets if New York trades Sam Darnold as Minshew could serve as a potential bridge QB to whomever Gang Green potentially takes with the No. 2 overall pick in the draft.
Via SportsLine oddsmakers: If traded, which team will Gardner Minshew be with Week 1?
- 49ers Even
- Broncos +300
- Seahawks +400
- Cowboys +500
- Vikings +600
- Chargers +700
- Bucs +1000
- Jets +1200
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