Carolina Panthers: Five free-agent quarterbacks the team could target

Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /
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Ryan Tannehill
Ryan Tannehill of the Tennesse Titans (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

Ryan Tannehill

Perhaps the biggest surprise at quarterback this season has been the career resurgence of Ryan Tannehill in Tennessee. Originally signed this past offseason as a backup, the Titans elected to bench former first-round pick Marcus Mariota in Week Six in favor of Tannehill. In 10 regular-season starts, he led the Titans to a 7-3 record and into the playoffs. Once in the playoffs, he beat Tom Brady and the Patriots for the fifth time in his career, while also handing New England its first home loss in the postseason since the 2013 AFC Championship Game.

After injuries derailed his career in Miami, Tannehill came into Tennessee as a one-year “insurance policy” for Mariota. No one expected him to take off the way he did in the second half of the season, as he passed for 22 touchdowns with just six interceptions over the Titans’ final 10 games of the regular season. Perhaps his most impressive stat of the year is the fact that he averaged 9.6 yards per attempt, while also throwing for touchdowns on nearly 8% of his passes. Tannehill was so solid for Tennessee this season that no quarterback had a better passer rating than the 31-year-old.

As far as how he fits in with the Panthers, he has proven in 2019 that he is most successful playing smash-mouth football. In other words, Tannehill has fed off of the Titans’ ability to run the ball. Doing so also helped open up the passing game for AJ Brown, who was one of the best in the league at picking up yards after the catch. To mimic Tannehill’s success with Tennessee, the Panthers have McCaffrey, who is one of the league’s best running backs, and receivers Moore and Curtis Samuel who can both pick up yards after the catch.