SALT LAKE CITY — Now that the NFL season is over and the annual coaching carousel seems to have settled, the quarterback situations for several teams take center stage.
Deshaun Watson tops the list, with the Houston Texans star demanding a trade. The individual respective status of Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Carson Wentz also deserve attention followed by which college quarterbacks will get drafted in the first round in the spring.
Interestingly, three quarterbacks with strong Utah connections figure prominently into the various storylines. The futures of Taysom Hill, Jordan Love and Zach Wilson could change dramatically over the next few months.
Let's start with Hill, the former BYU quarterback who is much beloved among the Cougar faithful. Brees' impending decision to retire, which is expected in time, creates an opening at quarterback for the New Orleans Saints.
Known as the ultimate utility player with the Saints, Hill went 3-1 as the starter in place of the injured Brees last season. The two-year contract worth upwards of $21 million he signed last April would indicate Saints management takes Hill as a starting quarterback seriously.
In a wide-ranging interview on The Zone Sports Network, Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young believes the NFL has changed to tailor Hill's skills. Recognized as a great athlete with incredible running ability, Hill completed more than 73% of his passes in three of the four starts.
But Hill might have to hold off Jameis Winston, who signed a one-year deal with New Orleans last offseason. There's also the issue of replacing a legend, which Young can speak to after supplanting Joe Montana with the San Francisco 49ers.
"There's no reason why the Saints can't turn to Taysom and say, 'Let's give you a crack at it,'" Young said. "It's going to be tough to replace Drew Brees because everybody will remember everything great that Drew did and they'll never remember what he didn't do. They'll think that he never threw an incompletion, he never threw an interception and he never lost a game. It's always tough. I went through it, so that's an extra challenge. But Taysom, to me, is ready for it."
Staying with BYU, most projections have Wilson going high as the second quarterback drafted in the upcoming draft behind Clemson's Trevor Lawrence. Young was impressed that Wilson got better the more the coaches opened up the playbook during his junior year.
But he noted the dilemma for quarterbacks selected high in the first round are they often go to horrible teams, thus making it difficult for the perceived franchise player to enjoy early success.
"For Zach, the challenge is just to get on a good team," Young said, "because every quarterback needs help. You can't go somewhere where you aren't going to get the help. That's always the struggle of being drafted high, is can you get to a team that's decent and can show your talents.
Unfortunately for Love, Young doesn't hold out much hope for the former Utah State star getting on the field any time soon for the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers was named the league's MVP last week, likely meaning the Packers won't be interested in trading him.
Even at age 37, Rodgers shows no signs of slowing down and giving way to Love, whom the Packers traded up to draft last spring. NFL rule changes over the years have helped quarterbacks maintain proficiencies well into their 30s and beyond, Young said, pointing to Tom Brady and Brees as the most recent examples.
"For great quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, you can play forever," Young said.
"If you're Jordan Love, you're just playing catch right now. There's nothing you can do about it and it's not a really good spot. The league is not built for you to be taking over for a quarterback that's getting old because getting old doesn't matter."