The NFL Offseason in 2022 was headlined by a flurry of trades and free agent acquisitions of veteran quarterbacks that emerged starting for new teams. The retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, pseudo-retirement of Tom Brady, and blockbuster extensions of others also contributed to the unprecedented, eye-catching saga which will continue into next summer. Speculation has already begun to unfold. A spotlight has anxiously cast on passers whose future is currently unknown. Why not join in and prematurely indulge ourselves with the chaos before the postseason commences?
Any changes I’ll attempt to predict will be bolded. I’m also going to break down every team’s starting quarterback situation into four different categories. "Locked" will be the first section with few unnecessary descriptions of why they are placed here. This is meant for teams who have no plans of starting a new quarterback for next season. Many have legitimate franchise quarterbacks and some will have "franchise" quarterbacks who have no realistic chance of getting moved somewhere else for financial concerns.
In the second category, there will be teams without any urgency to change who they have under center. Perhaps, all of the starters on these teams return, but you can’t be totally certain. The odds are roughly 90% or higher that the status quo remains intact. The only exit route for teams with these quarterbacks is going to be through a trade. A big reason I made this tier is because of the Matthew Stafford and Russell Wilson deals made in the past two years. No one expects them to switch teams unless a great offer is made by another team. As such, they will be the "No one expects them to switch teams" tier because I couldn’t come up with a good name.
Next up will be the NFL teams who may or may not make changes. This ultimately will be a very broad selection for a variety of reasons. Factors such as retirement/age, competitiveness of the team, salary, and draft position will all be considered. Here is where the speculation starts to ramp up. They are "Questionable".
The final group is composed of NFL teams that will be actively looking to find a new starter. A franchise that finds itself here isn’t a guarantee that they will have a new quarterback, but it would be a surprise if they did not shift course. This will be the "Help Wanted" label. There will be a lot of changes in this section. Brace yourself.
Let’s start by eliminating the obvious.
Kansas City Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes.
Mahomes signed a massive 10 year, 500 million extension in 2020.
Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen
Allen signed a 6 year, 258 million contract that will begin next season.
Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow
Burrow is still on his rookie contract and will get offered a similar contract extension to what Josh Allen received in 2021 sometime next offseason; just as Allen did following his 3rd year in the league.
Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert
Herbert is in the same situation as Burrow. They were both drafted in 2020. He’ll command a large extension as well, but not to the same extent.
Cleveland Browns: Deshaun Watson
Watson signed a fully guaranteed, 5 year extension last offseason. He’s basically untradeable and they didn’t see enough of him during 2022 in order to change their minds regardless.
Denver Broncos: Russell Wilson
Wilson got a contract with 163 million guaranteed last offseason. Unlike Cleveland and Deshaun Watson, Denver saw a lot of Russell Wilson, unfortunately. The Broncos immediately need to find a head coach that can get Russell back on the right track or they will likely be biting the bullet on his destructive cap hits well beyond the five years the contract was signed for.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence
Lawrence’s career took a 180 turn under competent head coaching with former quarterback Doug Pederson. The Jaguars’ future looks bright after making the playoffs for the first time in five years.
Dallas Cowboys: Dak Prescott
There are always trade rumors surrounding Dak Prescott. He’s had a tough season, he’s been injured often the past three years, and the Cowboys’ backup quarterbacks have played pretty well. Reality check. Dallas would incur a whopping 58 million dead cap penalty by trading Prescott and that’s simply not something a competitive team is going to be willing to stomach. To further complicate, or rather simplify, matters, Dak has a no-trade clause.
Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray
Murray was paid a hefty extension last offseason that didn’t work out so well in 2022. Alas, both parties will have to run it back and try to win more football games together. Of note, Murray probably won’t be the starter when next season begins due to ACL surgery.
Los Angeles Rams: Matthew Stafford
Stafford recently announced he intends to play next season and start for the Rams. His cap hit if traded is 48 million, so he will get every opportunity to do that.
Philadelphia Eagles: Jalen Hurts
The Eagles had a breakthrough year with Hurts starting his (near) second complete season. Philadelphia will owe him a huge contract extension in the offseason.
New York Giants: Daniel Jones
This was a great season for New York to build on. As I write this, Jones and the Giants are reportedly close to signing a multi-year contract and he will return.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Kenny Pickett
Pickett certainly didn’t light the world on fire in his rookie debut. However, he’s a first round pick that will need some time to grow and has a great environment to do so. The Steelers went 7-5 in Pickett’s starts.
"No one expects them to switch teams" (4)
Minnesota Vikings: Kirk Cousins
It would be a surprise to see Cousins play for another team next season, but not completely out of the question. The Vikings don’t have much of an alternative and should continue trying to put the best team possible on the field following a 13-4 season. Detractors can point out Cousins will be 35 next year and would only incur a 18 million dead cap hit if traded. That’s quite a bit of money, but not unbearable if the right exchange rate came calling. What about the market for him? There’s never a shortage of teams looking for a quarterback and Kyle Shanahan is a long time fan of Kirk.
Chicago Bears: Justin Fields
I’m not convinced Justin Fields is the "QBOTF" for the Bears, but they seem to be leaning that way. I would shocked if they traded Fields and drafted a QB with the #1 pick; although, that could and should be an option they entertain if they love Bryce Young, C.J Stroud, or Will Levis.
Detroit Lions: Jared Goff
On his current contract, Goff is very tradeable. Detroit seems pleased enough with his performance that they aren’t going to do anything drastic at quarterback. Word of confidence from the Lions’ GM supports Goff as the signal caller for next year.
Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa
The rumors are out that Tom Brady is coming to Miami. It’s very possible Brady moves across the state, but are the Dolphins willing to trade their talented, 24 year old to chase a Super Bowl with him? I don’t think it makes enough sense for the Dolphins to do that considering how well Tua played for them in his third season. Is Brady at this point even really that much better than Tagovailoa? I’m predicting Miami stands pat.
Seattle Seahawks: Geno Smith
It wasn’t expected for Seattle to make the playoffs after trading Wilson to Denver. They fought their way in by winning their last two games and got some help from the Detroit Lions in the final week. Geno Smith surprisingly played very well and was a big reason that the Seahawks got as far as they did. However, Smith is way too old (32) to be the quarterback of the future. He could draw significant interest from a better team that thinks they could get the same production out of him and that they need a quarterback to make a playoff push. If Seattle chooses to re-sign Smith, they have a lot of cap space next offseason that they could use to build a better team around him. I suspect they’ll keep Smith and draft a quarterback to develop behind him for a season or two. This sort of arrangement would be mutually beneficial. Ultra-talented, but currently terrible player Anthony Richardson would only be so lucky to end up under Pete Carroll’s tutelage.
Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers
Rodgers’ options after signing a three year extension in the Summer of 2022 are pretty simple. Retire or play for Green Bay. #12 will turn 40 years old during the next season and hasn’t appeared happy playing football. The Packers went out on a high note and nearly salvaged a playoff berth. They have room to grow in 2023. That might be enough to sell Rodgers on returning. Oh, and $60 million dollars doesn’t hurt either.
Atlanta Falcons: Desmond Ridder
In the season finale, Ridder may have shown he has starting potential for the Falcons. It seems to me that they will give him a shot at running the show.
Tennessee Titans: Ryan Tannehill
Tannehill is in the last year of his contract and would be an attractive trade candidate if teams were bullish on his abilities. Right now, he may serve his term as a bridge quarterback unless he can get the Titans to be as successful as they were in the two seasons prior to 2022.
New England Patriots: Mac Jones
A sophomoric slump by their quarterback helped derail New England’s postseason plans. Despite his benching against Chicago, and Bailey Zappe’s admirable play, I’d expect Jones to be given the chance for a bounce back year.
Help Wanted (10)
Las Vegas Raiders: Tom Brady
Derek Carr is on his way out. The Raiders have an offense Brady could have immediate success with. Vegas has an excellent offensive line, Davante Adams+Darren Waller as targets, and a potent running game with Josh Jacobs. Let’s not forget Tom's connection to head coach Josh McDaniels. When Brady retired last season, I was somewhat surprised. When he "unretired", it was the least surprising thing ever. Now that his family matters aren’t holding him hostage, the ultimate competitor may again return. It’s not as if he wasn’t effective this season. Brady threw for 4600 yards, 25 TDs, and only 6 INTs. He’s still good enough to lead a team all the way and he knows it.
San Francisco 49ers: Trey Lance
Lance was drafted third overall by the 49ers in 2021. He hasn’t been able to stay healthy, unfortunately, but he’s clearly the frontrunner to be San Francisco’s starting quarterback. A deep postseason run by Brock Purdy, however, could really complicate things. There’s also the possibility that Kyle Shanahan decides neither is the best option and goes hunting for a trade if he thinks that will get them to the Super Bowl.
Washington Commanders: Jimmy Garoppolo
The Commanders have a very easy decision on their hands: Release Carson Wentz without any cap penalty or pay him 26 million for 2023. Washington has a good team and needs to act fast on getting a quarterback to compete now. Garoppolo is one of the best options. Jimmy is accustomed to playing in the run-first offense the Commanders have insisted on using and could potentially get them to the postseason. In the meantime, they would be wise to continue working with Howell or draft another developmental quarterback.
New York Jets: Lamar Jackson
The Jets are going to throw Jackson all the money he could ever want. That includes the money that the Ravens refused to budge on. The biggest question is where does Jackson want to go? He’ll have no shortage of suitors, but New York seems like the best match. They have a team ready to compete and he’ll like throwing to Garrett Wilson (and Tyler Conklin)!
Carolina Panthers: Will Levis
While I don’t think Levis will start immediately if drafted by Carolina, I think he would eventually in year one. Predicting what rubbish quarterback is chosen to throw out while he practices is too difficult an exercise and unfun to engage in. Darnold would probably be their preference if another team doesn’t sign him for familiarity. Carolina doesn’t have a single QB on the roster other than Matt Corral for 2023 and requires new additions.
Houston Texans: CJ Stroud
Someone is going to make the Bears an offer that they can’t refuse for the first pick in the draft. I suspect there are going to be multiple teams bidding for it. Two quarterbacks are worth taking with the top pick, so the Texans will end up with the other one. I believe Bryce Young will go with the first selection leaving Houston with CJ Stroud. As with all rookie quarterbacks, I don’t know that Stroud beats out incumbent Davis Mills before the first game.
Indianapolis Colts: Bryce Young
The Colts are in the best position to make a trade with Chicago for the 1st overall pick sitting 3 spots behind them at #4. The Bears would still be able to take one of the best non-QB prospects with the 4th pick in addition to obtaining a boatload of other picks. Indianapolis has been desperate for a quarterback for a long time now. This franchise is the right amount of gutsy and stupid to get a deal done with Chicago. They’re no stranger to taking big swings for better or for worse.
New Orleans Saints: Derek Carr
It makes a lot of sense for Carr to try his hand at the NFL’s weakest division. The Saints went 7-10 with an excellent defense. Landing someone like Carr can potentially help them to be good enough on the other side of the ball in order to make it back to the playoffs. New Orleans has too strong of a team to completely rebuild and they don’t have the draft picks necessary to do so regardless. This is as good a match as you’ll get for both Carr and the Saints.
Baltimore Ravens: Hendon Hooker
Things will get ugly for Baltimore if they can’t retain Lamar Jackson and have to start over. Again, Anthony Richardson is an attractive option if Seattle (or some other team) doesn’t take him first. Most don’t project him to last until Baltimore is up to draft. Perhaps, Baltimore likes the next in line of Louisville quarterbacks and sees what Malik Cunningham has to offer as another alternative option. Hooker should be NFL ready to step in and play for the Ravens immediately. I mean he is 25.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Taylor Heinecke
I’m running out of legitimate options and don’t know what to do at this point. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to come here if Tom Brady has struggled to win with this team. Heinecke is the best remaining free agent quarterback available, so I’ll stick him here with Tampa Bay drafting a quarterback like Max Duggan or Tanner McKee in the process. Matt Ryan could be another interim option since he has recently said he does not want to retire while "under contract" and the Colts probably don’t want him around.
Free Agents of Importance: