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Main Obstacle Facing Every NFL QB Entering Make-or-Break Season in 2024

Brad Gagnon

Nothing comes easy in the NFL, especially at quarterback.

And not much is long-term at that position, either.

With that in mind, let's look at 10 NFL signal-callers facing make-or-break 2024 seasons for various reasons, and the key obstacles they'll likely face this year.

(Spoiler: We aren't very nice.)

Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins

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Why 2024 is make-or-break for him: Tagovailoa is entering the option year on his rookie contract, which means he could easily cash in or see it all blow up if he can't stay healthy and deliver.

The obstacle: Staying healthy and delivering. Injuries (concussions in particular) were a problem for the 26-year-old prior to the 2023 season, where he remained on the field but went just 1-5 against playoff teams, with the offense significantly less productive than usual in those contests.

Prediction: As impressive as the numbers have been the last two years, it's hard to trust the Alabama product at this point. He's got less support now than he did in 2023, and I think it's possible he's peaked.

That said, knowing how this league often works, he still might get his bag before this campaign plays out.

Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns

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Why 2024 is make-or-break for him: While Watson's guaranteed long-term contract might keep him in place for a while longer, nothing's guaranteed when you continually fail to deliver in this league.

If he does that for a third consecutive season in Cleveland, the Browns might bite the financial bullet and bail.

The obstacle: A lack of offensive support. The receiving corps is OK, but Jedrick Wills Jr. is a potential liability at left tackle, and there's no way of knowing what to expect from star running back Nick Chubb as he continues to recover from a major knee injury.

Prediction: At this point, Watson needs a stacked offense to help him attempt to regain the magic he last possessed in Houston in 2020. That doesn't exist in Cleveland, which is why I think he'll fail again in his age-29 season and officially become an encumbrance soon after that.

Russell Wilson, Pittsburgh Steelers

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Why 2024 is make-or-break for him: At 35, he's trying to prove he's got something left after two abysmal seasons with the Denver Broncos. And he'll have to do so on a cheap one-year contract.

The obstacle: Fellow new Steelers quarterback Justin Fields.

Prediction: Motivated by Fields, his contract and his reputation in a fresh setting, one of the best quarterbacks of this generation gets back on track in a successful rebound season.

Justin Fields, Pittsburgh Steelers

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Why 2024 is make-or-break for him: At 25, Fields is trying to prove he's got franchise quarterback abilities after three rough seasons with the Chicago Bears. And he'll have to do so in the final year of his rookie deal.

The obstacle: Fellow new Steelers quarterback Russell Wilson.

Prediction: With so-so support and Wilson's shadow playing a role, an intriguing young QB with significant issues as a passer fails to make much of an impact before hitting free agency next offseason.

Will Levis, Tennessee Titans

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Why 2024 is make-or-break for him: The 2023 second-round pick made an early splash in relief of Ryan Tannehill as a rookie (posting 130-plus passer ratings in two of his first four games), but he struggled after that and likely doesn't have a leash that spans the length of the 2024 campaign.

The obstacle: A lack of consistency, especially when it comes to accuracy. Levis completed just 58.4 percent of his passes and had the league's lowest qualified on-target rate during a roller-coaster rookie season.

Prediction: These were issues that also plagued the Kentucky product in college. That's unlikely to suddenly change now, especially with limited support. I bet we'll see Mason Rudolph and maybe even Malik Willis at certain points this season.

Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

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Why 2024 is make-or-break for him: The reigning MVP runner-up has likely done enough to remain a starter somewhere beyond the walk year that looms in 2024. However, his future in Dallas and a whole bunch of money hinges on whether he can finally take the Cowboys deep into the playoffs this season.

The obstacle: Now approaching 31, Prescott has been part of just two playoff wins despite rarely lacking support. He's thrown four interceptions in playoff losses the last two years. Can he finally reverse that trend?

Prediction: After seven playoff starts in eight years and a mere 91.8 rating in those outings, he's not getting the benefit of the doubt here. I think Prescott takes some big hits in 2024.

Daniel Jones, New York Giants

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Why 2024 is make-or-break for him: Considering his career 85.2 passer rating, there's just no way the Giants will tolerate another letdown season from Jones and hand him another $41.6 million in 2025. It's now or never.

The obstacle: As with Watson in Cleveland, if there's any chance this will suddenly work, he'll need top-notch support. With Saquon Barkley gone, questions surrounding much of the offensive line and the jury still out on Malik Nabers, the Giants don't appear to be offering enough.

Prediction: Jones has 38 touchdown passes in the last four seasons combined. Prescott threw nearly as many in 2023 alone. The 26-year-old just doesn't have the playmaking ability with his arm to overcome the lack of talent that surrounds him. This will be his last season as an NFL starter.

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

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Why 2024 is make-or-break for him: Rodgers missed practically all of 2023, he stunk for much of 2022 and there's a decent chance he or his team gives up if things don't pick up in 2024.

The obstacle: Father Time. It's undefeated, and Rodgers is now 40.

Prediction: Only 15 quarterbacks in NFL history have started games in their 40s, and the majority posted losing records beyond their 40th birthday.

Rodgers is coming off a major injury, and before that he was coming off a season in which his numbers plummeted. He's done.

Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals

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Why 2024 is make-or-break for him: Murray is an incredible talent, but it's possible he peaked in 2021. He has limped through much of the last two seasons. There's plenty of time and money left on his contract, but if he can't come through again in 2024, the Cardinals could try to move on.

The obstacle: Staying healthy. When he last accomplished that to a degree, he was ascending in 2020 and 2021.

Prediction: The offense is becoming less of a problem, especially with Marvin Harrison Jr. on board, and Murray is fully healthy right now. I still believe in the 26-year-old former top pick, and it wouldn't be a surprise if he got back into the Pro Bowl mix in 2024.

Geno Smith, Seattle Seahawks

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Why 2024 is make-or-break for him: The 33-year-old was considered a bust before shocking the football world with a strong 2022 campaign, but that all fell apart in 2023.

Now, he's got Sam Howell breathing down his neck and there's no way the Seahawks keep him on the roster for $38.5 million if he doesn't rediscover that 2022 form this season.

The obstacle: The offensive line is plagued by concerns, which likely won't make it easy on a flawed veteran quarterback who has a career 86.6 rating.

Prediction: All signs point to 2022 being a fluke. I'm not rolling against that.


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