2023 Veteran QB Carousel Unlikely To Be The Great Ride Everyone Wants It To Be

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There will be at least eight NFL teams looking for a starting quarterback throughout the 2023 offseason. It could be more, because some teams have starting quarterbacks on their roster they’re not exactly thrilled about.

But that great demand is matched by a relatively meager and questionable supply of available good veterans.

So, here’s the biggest nugget about the looming 2023 veteran quarterback carousel: Multiple teams won’t get on the ride.

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson on the sidelines against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the final regular season home game at M&T Bank Stadium on Jan. 1, 2023, in Baltimore. (Jerry Jackson/The Baltimore Sun/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Ravens, Giants Likely Sticking With Their QBs

The Ravens will re-sign or use the franchise tag on looming free agent Lamar Jackson because he’s good and there are no better options, despite his durability issue.

The New York Giants will attempt to re-sign pending free agent Daniel Jones because surrounding him with more talent is a better idea than adding someone equally unproven.

And the Chicago Bears, who hold the No. 1 overall selection in the draft, will likely try to continue developing Justin Fields rather than starting over with a new rookie QB.

That’s what happens when Tom Brady, the best free agent veteran expected to be available, retires from the NFL as he did on Wednesday.

So what happens next?

The union of Zach Wilson and coach Robert Saleh may not be what the Jets rely on to get them to the postseason in 2023.

Jets Would Lead Charge For Aaron Rodgers

First, let’s address the teams that need a starting QB for 2023:

The New York Jets. Yeah, Zach Wilson is there. But the Jets are going to look for a major upgrade. In the third year of the Robert Saleh tenure, this team needs to make the playoffs. And betting on Wilson to get New York there comes with long odds.

The Washington Commanders. They have Carson Wentz under contract but if they cut him they save $26 million in cap space. That salary cap fact becomes attractive considering Washington benched Wentz at the end of the season when they needed to win to make the playoffs. Taylor Heinicke (also not the guy) is an unrestricted free agent.

The Colts are on the list, as they’ve been since Andrew Luck retired. Matt Ryan is signed. But he was benched twice, including at season’s end, signaling he’s not the future. The Colts might draft a QB and use Ryan as a very expensive bridge QB.

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 18: Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Tennessee Titans exits the field due to an injury during the first half of the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium on December 18, 2022 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Titans’ Ran Carthon Has Decision To Make

The Titans have Ryan Tannehill and Malik Willis, but new GM Ran Carthon inherits a QB room that so far hasn’t been good enough. He can hold fast, knowing this is not a championship hand, or try to make a move.

(That rumored attempt to sign Brady and reunite him with former teammate Mike Vrabel is now off the table.)

The Buccaneers obviously need a starting quarterback.

The Saints have Jameis Winston under contract. But if they don’t solve whatever issues kept Winston on the bench most of 2022, they need a starting quarterback because Andy Dalton is a free agent.

Atlanta rounds out the starterless NFC South with a partial answer to their issue in Desmond Ridder. OK.

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr releases goodbye letter. (Credit: Getty Images)
Derek Carr releases goodbye letter. (Credit: Getty Images)

Derek Carr About To Hit Trade Market

The Las Vegas Raiders are going to trade Derek Carr. And they’re going to replace him with, well, who knows. The problem here is the Raiders are a veteran team that may not have two or three years for a rookie QB to mature.

The Seahawks will need a starter if Geno Smith, who is an unrestricted free agent, doesn’t re-sign. Luckily for them, Smith has said he’d like to return to Seattle. The Seahawks, holding the No. 5 overall selection, could also draft a QB.

That’s a lot of teams with starting quarterback questions. And, obviously, that doesn’t include the Houston Texans and Carolina Panthers, both of which are expected to draft a quarterback to be their guy.

Aaron Rodgers
GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN – JANUARY 08: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers warms up before a game against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field on January 08, 2023 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

So who are the top veteran QBs teams might be chasing this spring?

Aaron Rodgers could be available in trade. This only applies if Rodgers decides to keep playing and the Green Bay Packers decide to trade him.

The truth is, the lack of big-time veteran QB talent might help convince the Packers to dangle Rodgers because they could get a hefty return — certainly more than just one first-round pick.

So the Jets and maybe the Raiders figure in a Rodgers sweepstakes. The Dolphins also cannot be eliminated because Rodgers would like to play in Miami, owner Steve Ross loves big-name talent, and Tua Tagovailoa has durability issues.

The next most accomplished available quarterback will be Carr. The Commanders, Colts, Saints and even the Buccaneers could consider this move. Most will opt not to do it, but the Raiders only need one team interested enough to get it done.

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 27: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers drops back to pass against the New Orleans Saints during the first quarter of an NFL football game at Levi’s Stadium on November 27, 2022 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Jimmy G (And His Durability Issues) Will Factor

Jimmy Garoppolo will get plenty of action in free agency because there’s no trade involved. The Raiders seem the most obvious destination because of his New England ties to McDaniels.

Maybe the Buccaneers try to replace Brady with his former backup and Garoppolo also makes some sense with the Saints because, quarterback aside, that is a playoff-caliber team. The Dolphins are an outside, outside choice, but cannot be eliminated until they say otherwise.

Garoppolo, we must remember, has major durability problems.

And then we have a notable step down in talent and resumes…

This group includes Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, maybe Ryan and Wentz if they’re cut. And Andy Dalton is in this mix somewhere.

Then we have the full-on backups available in Teddy Bridgewater, Marcus Mariota, Nick Foles (if he’s cut), and P.J. Walker. Mason Rudolph, Gardner Minshew and Jacoby Brissett will also be looking for jobs as free agents.

It’s not a treasure trove when the shiniest object that was supposed to hit free agency retired on Wednesday.

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

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