4. Ryan Tannehill
Shifting gears back to a Belichick type signing, Ryan Tannehill would serve a similar purpose to Kirk Cousins, but on a much smaller contract. Cousins will be highly sought after among teams that think they can contend, while Tannehill will probably fly under the radar a bit.
Tannehill hasn’t posted any particularly impressive numbers since 2019, but he’s also been playing in one of the NFL’s most run-heavy options while consistently being asked to play behind a shaky offensive line while throwing to a pretty uninspiring wide receiver corps. His play hasn't fallen off the way his numbers might suggest.
The veteran has been a top-12 quarterback by PFF's grades in two of the last four seasons, however, with ranks of 6th, 12th, 20th and 16th (2023) in that time.
He won't pick apart defenses the way Cousins is capable of, but he's not going to lose you games on his own, and he's absolutely capable of playoff contention on the right roster.
He'll be 36 years old next season as well, and you probably don't want Tannehill as your answer under center for as long as you'd want Cousins. But as a stop gap to play maybe a season and a half while your long-term answer gets up to speed at the NFL level?
Tannehill would be a viable, cost-effective option that wouldn't take the Pats out of the playoff hunt the way Mac Jones has.