Though we have a ways to go before the 2022 NFL offseason, it’s never too early to consider the future. Given the worth of a franchise QB in this league, teams should always watch for an opportunity to take one off the market and sinch them onto their roster. As we are nearing closer to the playoffs, we’ve seen every team play. By now, we should have a base understanding of what each group has and what they don’t. Now comes the question of what they all do next in reaction to their respective issues.
Last offseason saw a handful of quarterbacks shake up the market by either changing teams or demanding trades. That trend may continue next round, as several QBs look dissatisfied with their current situation. Meanwhile, some groups appear to have slowly fallen out with their starters under center. Whatever the reason in each organization, this has the makings of a most memorable offseason.
This article will scour across the NFL landscape and detail the ongoing narratives of each QB situation that may be subject to change this offseason. I’ll also discuss the likely changes to come in each scenario, mapping out the quarterback market in 2022
Should the Browns move on from Baker Mayfield?
The Browns’ selection of Baker Mayfield with the first pick in the 2018 draft took many by surprise. Though he proved himself a top prospect during his collegiate career, few thought he would be the first QB off the board. Despite the doubters and the tumultuous setting he was getting into, he thrived in his rookie campaign. His performance gave hope to a Browns fanbase that had been deprived of a franchise QB for as long as they could remember.
Unfortunately, Mayfield never really grew much better under center from there. He’s taken a step back from last year and received much criticism for it. You could attribute his struggles to the slew of injuries he’s dealt with this season. However, the team’s offensive identity doesn’t orbit around him at all.
Though the team has enjoyed its greatest success with him at the helm, we all know what happens to a team with less than excellent quarterback play on average. That being the case, along with his inconsistent performance per season, it bears asking whether Cleveland should entertain other options.
Has Tua given himself new life in Miami?
The Miami Dolphins had lofty expectations placed upon them this season. They slowly progressed their rebuild in 2019 and propped themselves up to ten wins in 2020. From there, the obvious next step involved a playoff berth in 2021. Sadly, that may not be in the cards. One big question mark regarding the team pertained to their 2020 first-round drafted quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
Though he looked like a star in Alabama, he did struggle with injuries. That carried itself over in the NFL, along with the exposure of his physical limitations. As the Dolphins have struggled this year, it only raised more questions about whether Tua could fill the void at quarterback for the team.
The organization appeared to think not since they were closely connected to Deshaun Watson trade rumors at the deadline weeks ago. However, the Dolphins have been on a roll as of late with Tua under center. His numbers have risen along the way, and he could revive the franchise’s faith in him if he keeps pace. Otherwise, he may be on the move soon.
Has Jalen Hurts proven himself to the Eagles?
Since taking the reigns from Carson Wentz, Jalen Hurts has struggled to take advantage of his opportunity. He has had some big moments, but the inconsistencies have become a hallmark in his game. The latest example came in late November. Off of an impressive two-game stretch against the Broncos and Saints, Hurts and company dropped the ball against the woeful New York Giants.
Some believe that he’ll need a little more time to develop his passing. Others will say that he is who he is, and the Eagles should enter the market searching for a legitimate starter. I merely stand in between those sides. They say that it doesn’t take long to see if you have someone special at the QB spot. But elite quarterbacks don’t just fall out of the sky.
I’d suggest waiting to see how Philadelphia closes out the year before making a judgment call on Hurts. Even then, It might be too soon. Besides, of all the other quarterbacks that could become available, almost none have been linked to the Eagles anyway. That being the case, is there any problem sticking who you have right now if that doesn’t change?
Why Matt Ryan and the Falcons should part ways
To be blunt, the Atlanta Falcons are not a good team. They have quality pieces inside their roster, but ultimately, they lack any championship pedigree. This can change in short order with successful free agency signings, and home run hits in the draft. However, in all likelihood, Atlanta will stand as a middleman for the foreseeable future, barring any significant changes.
This brings me to Matt Ryan. Undoubtedly the greatest quarterback in franchise history, Ryan has earned his stripes while dawning the red and black. Unfortunately, it would be within the team and his best interest to part ways so that the Falcons may commit to a rebuild, and he may compete on a team viable for championship contention. A team like the Broncos or Browns comes to mind in that regard.
Addressing the 49ers QB room
According to reports, the San Fransisco 49ers will move forward with Trey Lance as their starter next season. This means that Jimmy Garoppolo’s days with the team are numbered. That being said, I wouldn’t consider this situation resolved as of yet. Time can change a lot of things inside an organization. Especially considering how close the 49ers were to championship glory in 2020, why wouldn’t they take their shot at an established star QB in the offseason?
They went as far as having contacted the Packers last offseason to acquire Aaron Rodgers potentially. They could approach him again as he makes his way to free agency.
Big Changes coming in the Big Apple?
The New York Giants have been trying to re-establish themselves for about a decade now. Despite the talent that they’ve boasted, the G-Men have failed to recapture the success that made them two-time champions. They could change very soon if they go about themselves correctly this offseason.
The quarterback position has been the most glaring hole in their roster over the past decade. Eli Manning could only have played so well for so long, and Daniel Jones has left most dissatisfied. That said, with one of Deshaun Watson or Russell Wilson on the table and some favorable draft capital at the Giants’ disposal, they could potentially make something happen here.
Fixing the offensive line remains imperative for them, but hopefully, a new regime in the front office (impending) could address that. David Gettleman’s tenure at the helm hasn’t yielded any success. All signs point to a change on that front barring anything drastic in the remaining games.
Aaron Rodgers’ free agency
It’s hard to picture Aaron Rodgers in any uniform other than Green Bay’s Green and Yellow. But the last offseason saw the superstar QB demand a trade away from the only NFL team he had suited up for. Rodgers appears to have felt slighted by the organization despite the talent on the roster and the success they’ve attained. Much of that likely concerns the Packers drafting Jordan Love in the 2020 NFL draft.
Though that development may have caused some confusion and disappointment, it seems to have cooled down. After seeing Love under center weeks ago against the Chiefs, most came away thinking he needed more time. Considering that, on top of Green Bay’s sustained contender status, some have started to campaign for Rodgers to stick around.
The choice, ultimately, lies with Mr. Rodgers himself. Set to enter free agency this offseason, he’ll have his pick of the litter for where he will take the next phase of his career. Potential suitors include the 49ers, Broncos, Giants, Steelers, and obviously, the Packers. His decision will have heavy implications for the rest of the league moving forward.
How can the Panthers change course?
The Carolina Panthers have yet to find their next franchise quarterback. They boast some promise of a competitive team but require that essential piece to bring it all together. Having started the season at 3-0, we can say that they are not too far away.
Their latest venture went into an attempt to revitalize Sam Darnold after a tumultuous stint in New York. Unfortunately, he could not sustain his impressive start, and an injury has left him sidelined for the past few weeks. All signs point to a parting between the parties involved after the season. The same goes for Cam Newton, whose return to Carolina sparked nationwide excitement, but for only so long.
Looking at the team’s options for next season, the future remains uncertain. As they are not a prime free-agent destination, they will likely have to find their next franchise QB via trade or the draft. A Deshaun Watson trade could be on the table, as could a potential move to acquire Jimmy Garoppolo.
Why Derek Carr should leave the Raiders
Since joining the Raiders back in 2014, Derek Carr has had one winning season. Now you could place much of that on Carr himself, but the team did not do him any favors for most of his tenure. Oakland/Las Vegas has yet to build a sturdy defensive unit in his seven years with the team. They have also failed to develop a sustainable core on offense.
They tend to have some viable pieces around him, but the team at large could never measure up. Considering his relatively cheap contract, that falls squarely on the Raiders. I know Derek Carr does not rank among the elite quarterbacks, but he is good enough to take a team to the playoffs. You only need to put him in a position to succeed.
It’s not so different from Matthew Stafford’s case with Detroit. While some of the blame rests with him for their underachievement, most of it lies with the Lions. Like Stafford, I think it would be in Carr’s best interest (from a competitive standpoint at least) to seek out a new home this offseason.
Washington’s QB dilema
Taylor Heinicke has filled in well for the Washington Football Team at the QB spot. The 28-year-old journeyman has played the best football of his professional career in the nation’s capital. That said, a 19-12 touchdown to interception ratio doesn’t scream franchise quarterback.
In the first place, Heinicke was not supposed to start for the team this season. They decided on Ryan Fitzpatrick instead. And while Heinicke has proven himself a better option this year, that does not necessarily make him their best bet moving forward.
In what ought to be a wealthy quarterback market this offseason, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Washington place a bid on a new starter. They could even venture for a long-term solution through the draft.
Is Jameis Winston the future in New Orleans?
Since his season-ending injury sustained against the Buccaneers in week eight, Jameis Winston’s New Orleans Saints have a woeful 1-5 record. While you could attribute much of their collapse to the slew of injuries beyond just Jameis, it does not, but so much take away from what the Saints were when he was under center.
Winston had thrown 14 touchdowns to a mere three interceptions through seven games played. That trended toward the best TD-INT ratio of his career. Given all of that, one would assume that the Saints would bring him back next year as their starter.
However, this is Jameis Winston we’re talking about here. He became the first quarterback in league history to throw 30 touchdowns and interceptions in the same season. While New Orleans may have given him a new lease on his NFL life, that shouldn’t take away from our skepticism that he could keep the turnovers to a minimum. Especially, given the talent available this offseason, the Saints would be remiss not to at least consider their options.
Is Russell Wilson’s departure from Seattle a formality?
The Seattle Seahawks have had the same issues for a long time now. Their offensive line continuously fails to protect their franchise quarterback, and they have yet to rebuild their defensive core back to prominence. For years these problems either went unnoticed or were ignored by the organization because they still won games. Having a quarterback as good as Russell Wilson, wins will come whether deserved or not. But now, those benefits appear to have withered away.
Rumors of Russell Wilson wanting out of Seattle started to make headway last offseason. Given the team’s downswing this year, chances are that those rumors will gain momentum. Wilson’s agent already released a list of teams that his client would like to join if traded already. This time around, more suitors may emerge. After all, it’s Russell Wilson.
The only issue is that the Seahawks would not, nor should they intend to trade away their best player. At the end of the day, how Seattle proceeds will heavily depend on who they as an organization has more faith in: the players, the coaching staff, or themselves.
Will the Steelers find an immediate replacement for Big Ben?
Recent reports have alluded to this season being Ben Roethlisberger’s last in the NFL. With that, the timer has begun for the Pittsburgh Steelers to find a quick solution and land a new starting quarterback. They have been linked to Aaron Rodgers, but they’ll have to push for other options if that route doesn’t work.
They could always look towards the draft, but those young players are unknown commodities at the moment. With their talent, the Steelers should be contending for a championship. Believing that of themselves, Pittsburgh will seek out a legitimate replacement for their Hall-of-Fame quarterback.
Revisiting Deshaun Watson’s trade scenario
Deshaun Watson requested a trade from the Houston Texans last year. Having grown disgruntled with the team’s handling of the roster and their sharp decline in past seasons, he wanted out. The Texans instead chose to stand pat. With a quarterback as talented as Deshaun Watson, moving on from him shouldn’t come without a fight. That is, with regards to the athlete. However, the person behind the player, we have come to question.
Not too far removed from his trade request going public, several lawsuits were filed against the upstart QB for harassment and sexual assault. These claims put both his life and career at stake, and if he is, in fact, guilty, it should. But in the meantime, this leaves his situation in Houston on hold.
Today, things seem quiet on all fronts. Talks appeared to have intensified near the trade deadline, but they couldn’t find a deal. This impending trade will retake shape in the offseason. The only question concerns whether the legal troubles will subside before then, and if so, how will that impact the market at large.