The Kansas City Chiefs find themselves in tough and interesting spot following the Week 7 injury to Patrick Mahomes. After watching their star quarterback go down with a knee injury early on Thursday Night Football against the Denver Broncos, the worst was immediately feared.
Mahomes is undergoing an MRI on Friday to find out the severity of his knee injury, which ESPN’s Stefania Bell initially revealed as a right patellar (kneecap) dislocation. Although the exact timeline for the quarterback’s return won’t be known until after the MRI, a minimum amount of time missed has been revealed.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Mahomes will be sidelined for at least three weeks, but there’s “optimism” he could return after that.
Considering the situation – that the Chiefs are 5-2 and are one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl – it wouldn’t be surprising to see them add a quarterback. Whether that player is brought in via free agency or trade is the big question, but it could depend on how much time Mahomes misses.
We’re going to take a look at five options for the Chiefs to sign/trade for, with analysis on the scenario for how each move could realistically happen.
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Sign: Colin Kaepernick
Scenario: If Mahomes misses the entire year
There’s no need to bury the lede here. Colin Kaepernick has been and will remain one of the most hot-button topics in the NFL. He’s also by far the most intriguing free-agent quarterback on the market.
Kaepernick would come to Kansas City with a chip on his shoulder after no other team opted to give him a chance. He’s made it known that he’s still game-ready, and as ESPN’s Adam Schefter revealed, his agent, Jeff Nalley and PR director, Jasmine Windham issued a strong press release about the quarterback.
Kaepernick is a big name, but as former player and NFL analyst Keyshawn Johnson revealed after the game, he’d also be a fit with the Chiefs and specifically head coach Andy Reid. Michael Vick received a second chance on his career with Reid, who played a vital role in helping him produce at an exceptionally high level after being two years removed from the NFL.
Trade: Marcus Mariota
Scenario: If Mahomes misses the entire year.
The Tennessee Titans opted to bench former No. 2 pick Marcus Mariota in favor of Ryan Tannehill moving forward. It’s a big move and one which likely ends Mariota’s tenure as the starter in Tennessee.
While the addition of the former Oregon Ducks star would be enticing for Chiefs fans, it’s unknown what the cost would be. Mariota has struggled this season, completing just 59.1 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns in six games. He has a 2-4 record in 2019 and a career 29-32 record.
If the price is right, the Chiefs would be wise to consider this move, especially when you factor in that 2019 is the final year of his contract, and he’s slated to hit free agency this offseason.
Trade: Blake Bortles
Scenario: If Mahomes misses three-plus weeks.
I’m not at all sold that the Los Angeles Rams, who signed Blake Bortles as a free agent this offseason would opt to trade him currently. With that said, anything is possible if the price is right. Bortles struggled on and off during his tenure with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he’d be a fine spot starter (who backs up Matt Moore for a week) assuming the Chiefs didn’t have to break the bank.
Over the span of his career, Bortles has posted a 24-49 record while completing 59.3 percent of his passes. In that 73-game span, he threw 103 touchdowns and 75 interceptions.
The big issue here would be how this deal makes sense for all parties. The Rams surely wouldn’t feel comfortable with their backup quarterback situation, unless they’re open to moving John Wolford off the practice squad or have another option in mind.
Trade: Eli Manning
Scenario: Mahomes misses six-plus weeks
One of the first names who came to mind for many after Mahomes suffered his injury was Eli Manning. The long-time New York Giants signal-caller was replaced by rookie Daniel Jones and there’s virtually no chance Manning will get his job back.
Manning, 38, isn’t the quarterback he used to be and threw for 556 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions during the Giants’ 0-2 start to the 2019 season. While his upside is limited, the positive outlook here is that the Chiefs may not need to fork over much in order to acquire him.
The Super Bowl-winning quarterback is in the final year of his contract, so it’s a low-risk move for Kansas City. It’s not ideal for the Giants to be left with no clear-cut backup behind Jones, but if they can get a mid-to-late round draft pick for Manning, that’d be tough to pass up.
Sign: Brock Osweiler
Scenario: Mahomes misses three-plus weeks.
Brock Osweiler hasn’t been great throughout his pro career and even revealed earlier this week that he had retired from the NFL. But retirement is a funny thing when it comes to a 28-year-old quarterback.
It likely wouldn’t take much to get Osweiler out of retirement, but the level of interest from the Chiefs is the real question mark here. If they do, he could be brought in as a short-term backup option for Moore, or even someone who could push Moore for the starting job if Mahomes is forced to miss an extended period.