NFL 2024 free-agent rankings: Top 5 QBs Kirk Cousins, Russell Wilson find new teams

If you want a top-end starting quarterback in free agency, good luck.

Kirk Cousins was a weird outlier in 2018. The Washington Commanders couldn't sign him to a long-term deal, he played on some franchise tags and then hit unrestricted free agency at age 29. And now he's headed to the Atlanta Falcons after becoming a free agent again at age 35. Usually unless a quarterback is aging, injured or ineffective, they practically never hit free agency at a prime age.

There are some options, usually backup-level players trying to hang on or once-starters looking to resurrect their careers. The latter worked out for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when they signed Baker Mayfield last year.

Yahoo Sports is ranking the top five NFL free agents by position. (Mallory Bielecki/Yahoo Sports)
Yahoo Sports is ranking the top five NFL free agents by position. (Mallory Bielecki/Yahoo Sports)

Here are the top five quarterbacks in free agency:

1. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

(UPDATE: Agreed to 4-year deal with Falcons)

This is a much different free agency for Cousins. He'll be 36 next season and is coming off a torn Achilles. Cousins was good in six Vikings seasons, even if he couldn't take Minnesota on a deep playoff run. Will that change in Atlanta? There's risk involved for the Falcons signing an aging Cousins coming off a big injury, but he should have a couple good years left.

2. Baker Mayfield, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

(UPDATE: Signing 3-year deal with Bucs)

Signing a cheap one-year deal in hopes of resurrecting your career and earning a huge payday rarely works out, but it did for Mayfield. He signed a bargain one-year deal, threw for 4,044 yards and 28 touchdowns and looks again like a viable starter as he enters his age 29 season. He's returning to Tampa Bay, but would’ve got some interest if he hit the open market.

3. Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos

(UPDATE: Wilson is signing with the Steelers)

Wilson will be a free agent when the Broncos cut him at the start of the league year. He's an interesting case, a player who was on a Hall of Fame track with nine Pro Bowls in 10 Seattle Seahawks seasons, but then everything came apart in Denver. The Steelers are getting a veteran QB with a Super Bowl ring and do it for the league minimum salary because of the offset language in Wilson's Broncos contract.

4. Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans

Tannehill had a great start to his Titans career, but faded the last couple seasons and Tennessee chose to go with Will Levis last season. Tannehill will be 36 next season but can be a bridge quarterback for a team that drafts its quarterback of the future but doesn't want to throw him into the lineup. Tannehill isn't that far removed from being a pretty good starter.

5. Gardner Minshew, Indianapolis Colts

(UPDATE: Minshew signing two-year deal with Raiders)

Minshew seems like the player who spends his career as one of the best backups in the league, but you don't want as your preferred starter. He started 13 games last season with the Colts last season after rookie Anthony Richardson got hurt and he wasn't bad, but most teams didn't look at him as a starter. Perhaps the Raiders see him as a bridge QB or something more.