Option 2: Grab a veteran quarterback in free agency
All are pushing the age of 40 or passed it already, three have won the Super Bowl, and three have been starters in their current city for 15+ years. While they may have some mileage left (some more than others), it would be an absolute shock to see any of them wearing silver and blue in 2020.
Then there are the higher end younger guys, all with experience and some degree of success as starters. Teddy Bridgewater, Marcus Mariota, and Jameis Winston all fall into this category. Dak Prescott has an expiring contract too, though Dallas seems committed to him, and for good reason.
The ‘lower end young guys’ category includes Blake Bortles, Trevor Siemian, and Kyle Allen, among plenty of others. The journeyman category has Chase Daniel, Case Keenum, I’m sure at least one of the McCowns, and on and on and on.
Why they could: There are literally dozens of well-known QBs available, from the G.O.A.T. to the all time passing leader to Tampa Bay’s 30-30 man, and all the way down. The one thing all of these guys have in common is that they’d be significant upgrades over the Lions’ backups in 2019.
Drawbacks: The legends aren’t coming here, plain and simple. The other more established guys will obviously carry a higher price tag and be less willing to walk into a situation where they’re not the starter.
Likelihood of this option: Moderate to high. As I said, the legends aren’t coming here, and I doubt Mariota, Bridgewater or Winston will be talked into the role of unquestioned backup. I think it will be a tossup between getting one of the lower end young guys (not necessarily the few that I listed) or Option #3, possibly a combination of both.
A guy like Trevor Siemian is probably the most realistic possibility in this category. Siemian is probably looking at a journeyman type of career later on, not quite a franchise type of player, but solid enough to hang around the league for a long time.
At 28, Siemian’s still young but with significant NFL experience (four years, 13-12 record as a starter). For a comparison point, his signing would feel a lot like the team has Shaun Hill backing up Stafford again. No cause for a big celebration, but the Lions wouldn’t be going 0-8 with him on the field either.
Other teams had plenty of success when using backups in 2019, and there are plenty of competent guys who should be available for a decent price. The challenge is getting them to Detroit.