Last year’s NFL quarterback carousel turned out some wild moves, including the unexpected trade that sent Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams.
The 2022 offseason promises to have more drama. Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady have retired, which opens up two huge vacancies.
Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Seattle’s Russell Wilson are among the veteran quarterbacks who are subject to trade rumors. Will this be the year Rodgers and Wilson move on
Those are just a few of the storyline bound to develop over the next few weeks. It’s not just about the future Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft will dictate a few more switches.
Who lands where? Sporting News sizes up the quarterback situation for all 32 teams heading into 2022:
NFL MOCK DRAFT 2022:
Giants land new QB for Brian Daboll; Chiefs, Browns, Raiders get in on WR run
Who started last year? Kyler Murray started in 14 games. He finished with 3,787 passing yards, 423 yards and 25 total TDs. Colt McCoy started in three games while Murray dealt with an ankle injury.
Who starts in 2022? Murray will start and it is the final year of his rookie contract. Given the NFC wild card flop against the Rams, it’s a prove-it year for Murray and coach Kliff Kingsbury to see if they can take the next step together.
Who started last year? Matt Ryan passed for 3,968 yards, 20 TDs and 12 interceptions in a 7-10 season. Josh Rosen and Feleipe Franks were the backups, but neither one of those QBs is a serious starting option. Ryan has a potential opt out in his contract for 2022, and Pittsburgh has been a speculative destination.
Who starts in 2022? Ryan will come back for at least one more season. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that Falcons coach Arthur Smith has made it clear he wants Ryan back as the starter in 2022. Atlanta could draft a quarterback for the future, however.
Who started this year? Lamar Jackson passed for 2,882 yards, 16 TDs and 13 interceptions and rushed for 767 yards and two TDs. Jackson did see a drop in production, and he missed five games. Baltimore also missed the playoffs.
Who starts in 2022? The Ravens picked up the fifth-year option on Jackson, and the offseason talk will concern whether there is an extension before the season starts. Jackson will return, but 2023 could be interesting if the Ravens struggle to make the postseason and an extension has not been reached.
Who started this year? Josh Allen passed for 4,407 yards, 36 TDs and 15 interceptions and led the Bills to the AFC divisional playoffs, where they lost a 42-36 thriller to Kansas City in overtime.
Who starts in 2022? Allen is locked up with a long-term contract in Buffalo that runs through 2028, and now the key for the Bills is to continue building a team around him that can win a Super Bowl.
Who started this year? Sam Darnold started in 11 games and went 4-7, Cam Newton returned and was 0-5 as a starter, and journeyman backup P.J. Walker won his lone start under center. The Panthers finished 5-12, and the heat is on third-year coach Matt Rhule.
Who starts in 2022? It’s going to be Darnold unless the Panthers can find a willing trade partner. That won’t be easy either. Darnold is due $18.8 million in 2022, and that is a huge cap hit. SN’s latest 2022 NFL Mock Draft has the team taking Liberty’s Malik Willis in the first round. Pitt’s Kenny Pickett also is an option.
Who started this year? Rookie Justin Fields started in 10 games, and he had 1,870 passing yards, seven TDs and 10 interceptions. Veteran Andy Dalton started in six games, and Nick Foles made one start. The Bears finished 6-11 and fired Matt Nagy.
Who starts in 2022? Fields is going to be the starter, and new coach Matt Eberflus needs to be creative in maximizing that talent. Foles is under contract for one more year. Dalton is a free agent.
Who started this year? Joe Burrow, the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, passed for 4,611 yards, 34 TDs and 14 interceptions and led the Bengals to Super Bowl 56. It’s an amazing back from a rookie season in which he suffered a torn ACL and MCL.
Who starts in 2022? Burrow proved he is a franchise quarterback, and the Bengals have the most cap space among playoff teams. Burrow has two years left on his rookie contract and a fifth-year option, so it’s about maintaining what could be a Super Bowl contender for years to come.
Who started this year? One year after leading the Browns to a playoff victory, Baker Mayfield passed for 3,010 yards, 17 TDs and 13 interceptions. Mayfield played through a torn labrum and has already had offseason surgery. Case Keenum made two starts as the primary backup.
Who starts in 2022? Mayfield’s fifth-year option is locked in for $18.6 million, so he is going to be the starter. Given Cleveland was expected to be a Super Bowl contender this year, the pressure is on Mayfield and third-year coach Kevin Stefanski to get back to what made the team successful in 2020. Unless the Browns entertain trading Mayfield, and Deshaun Watson makes the most sense, this will be the plan.
Who started this year? Dak Prescott returned from a gruesome leg injury. He passed for 4,449 yards, 37 TDs and 10 interceptions in 16 starts. Cooper Rush started in one game this season.
Who starts in 2022? Prescott signed an extension that runs through 2026. More pressure will be on third-year coach Mike McCarthy in 2022. Prescott is now 1-3 in postseason starts.
Who started this year? Teddy Bridgewater made 14 starts and finished with 3,052 yards, 18 TDs and seven interceptions. Bridgewater missed three games because of a concussion, and Drew Lock made three starts.
Who starts in 2022? The Broncos hired Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, and the next step is easy to take. If Aaron Rodgers leaves Green Bay, then this is where he will be traded. If it’s not Rodgers, then Denver can try to get Russell Wilson. While those are the popular takes, we’re betting drafts Ole Miss’ Matt Corral or Nevada’s Carson Strong in the first round, whichever one Hackett likes best. Lock starts the season at quarterback while those two get ready.
Who started this year? Jared Goff made 13 starts after being traded from Los Angeles. He finished with 3,245 yards, 19 TDs and eight interceptions. Tim Boyle started in three games while Goff had a shoulder injury.
Who starts in 2022? SN’s latest mock draft has the Lions taking Sam Howell with the No. 31 pick, which was acquired in that trade with the Rams. Goff’s contract runs through 2024, however, and it’s a massive cap hit. He will be the starter for second-year coach Dan Campbell.
Green Bay Packers
Who started this year? After a drama-filled offseason where he was uncertain whether Aaron Rodgers would come back, he is on track to win his third MVP award after passing for 4,115 yards, 37 TDs and four interceptions. The Packers, however, lost 13-10 to San Francisco in the NFC divisional playoff round.
Who starts in 2022? The Packers are in salary cap hell, so it comes down to this. Either Rodgers retires (unlikely) or he’s traded to Denver. If those two scenarios don’t happen, then Green Bay finds a way to keep Davante Adams (at least for one more year) and Rodgers stays for one more shot with the Packers. Rodgers waited three years to start. So will Jordan Love. We’ll say it’s Rodgers under center.
Who started this year? Deshaun Watson did not play this season, which left first-year coach David Culley scrambling at quarterback. Davis Mills played reasonably well in 11 starts with 2,664 yards, 16 TDs and 10 interceptions. Tyrod Taylor made six starts. The Texans are in the process of hiring a new coach.
Who starts in 2022? We’d like to see who the Texans hire first, but keep in mind Watson has five years left on his contract. A trade seems likely, and Miami and Cleveland are two places to watch. That means either Tua Tagovailoa or Baker Mayfield could be center next season. Of those two, Tagovailoa seems more likely.
Who started this year? Carson Wentz reunited with Frank Reich in Indianapolis after a trade with Philadelphia. Wentz passed for 3,563 yards, 27 TDs and seven interceptions.
Who starts in 2022? The Colts have Wentz under contract for the next three seasons. Indianapolis just missed the playoffs in 2021. That’s the next step for Wentz.
Who started this year? The Jaguars drafted Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 pick, but the Urban Meyer era was a predictable disaster. Lawrence finished with 3,641 yards, 12 TDs and 17 interceptions.
Who starts in 2022? The Jaguars are still looking for a new coach. Lawrence has three years left on his rookie deal. Lawrence has franchise-QB talent. The right coach needs to cultivate that.
Kansas City Chiefs
Who started this year? Patrick Mahomes II passed for 4,839 yards, 37 TDs and 13 interceptions and led the Chiefs to another deep playoff run. Mahomes is 42-10, including playoffs, the last three seasons.
Who starts in 2022? Mahomes’ contract runs through 2031. How much of that will be paired with Andy Reid? The rest of the NFL can’t like the answer.
Las Vegas Raiders
Who started this year? Derek Carr passed for 4,804 yards, 23 TDs and 14 interceptions. He led the Raiders to an improbable berth in a season full of off-the-field distractions. The Raiders will have a new coach in 2022, and Carr is always the subject of trade rumors.
Who starts in 2022? This is a case where Raiders owner Mark Davis is going to stay loyal to the quarterback who got Las Vegas to the playoffs. Carr has one year remaining on his contract.
Los Angeles Chargers
Who started this year? Justin Herbert started in 17 games and built on a tremendous rookie season with 5,014 yards, 38 TDs and 15 interceptions in Year 2. He will continue to develop with second-year coach Brandon Staley in 2022.
Who starts in 2022? Herbert will start, and the pressure to make the playoffs is there after the Week 18 miss against the Raiders. Herbert is 15-17 as a starter.
Los Angeles Rams
Who started this year? The Rams made the bold trade last season for Matthew Stafford, and it paid off. Stafford passed for 4,886 yards, 41 TDs and 17 interceptions and led Los Angeles to Super Bowl 56.
Who starts in 2022? Stafford, entering his 14th season, has one year left on his contract but he is a candidate for an extension. He will be the Rams’ starter in 2022.
Who started this year? Second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa made 12 starts and finished with 2,653 passing yards, 16 TDs and 10 interceptions. Second-year Brian Flores was fired, so Miami is starting over again. Does that mean the quarterback position will be up for grabs?
Who starts in 2022? In this breakdown last year we wondered whether Miami could get Deshaun Watson. The Dolphins will need a new coach first, but we still think if Watson is traded, then Miami is the destination. Otherwise, Miami will stick with Tagovailoa, who has two years left on his rookie contract.
Who started this year? Kirk Cousins is 33-29-1 in four years as the Vikings’ starter, and there is one year left on his monster contract. Cousins passed for 4,221 yards, 33 TDs and seven interceptions last season, but Minnesota missed the playoffs again.
Who starts in 2022? Mike Zimmer is out, so the Vikings will have a new coach in 2022. There won’t be a large market on Cousins via trade unless a franchise is desperate, so expect to see him in Week 1 for Minnesota.
New England Patriots
Who started this year? The Patriots surprised by taking Mac Jones in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, and Jones surprised by finishing 10-7 as a starter as a rookie. He had 3,801 passing yards, 22 TDs and 13 interceptions. New England lost to Buffalo in the AFC wild card round.
Who starts in 2022? Bill Belichick made the right call with Jones, who will be the starting quarterback in 2022.
New Orleans Saints
Who started this year? Life after Drew Brees wasn’t easy. Jameis Winston, Taysom Hill, Trevor Siemian and Ian Book all made starts for the Saints this season. They combined for 29 TDs and 13 interceptions, and New Orleans almost made the NFC playoffs despite the constant switching.
Who starts in 2022? Sean Payton dropped the first bombshell when he announced he will be taking a break from coaching. Winston is a free agent, and Hill is under contract for the next four seasons. Is Hill a true starting quarterback option for the next head coach? That is the first question that needs answered. New Orleans is a true wild card when it comes to trading for a veteran quarterback.
New York Giants
Who started this year? Daniel Jones passed for 2,428 yards, 10 TDs and seven interceptions in 11 games in 2021. Jones’ production dropped again, and the lack of offense led to the firing of second-year coach Joe Judge.
Who starts in 2022? New general manager Joe Schoen and co-owner John Mara have backed Jones, who enters the final year of his rookie contract with a new head coach. Jones will start barring an unforeseen blockbuster trade.
New York Jets
Who started this year? The Jets traded Sam Darnold and drafted Zach Wilson, and the rookie quarterback had growing pains in 13 starts. He finished with 2,334 yards, nine TDs and 11 interceptions in 13 games. New York finished 4-13 under first-year coach Robert Saleh.
Who starts in 2022? Wilson will be the Week 1 starter, but last season proved it does not hurt to have a seasoned veteran backup in place. Mike White and Joe Flacco combined for four starts in 2021.
Who started this year? The Eagles stuck with Jalen Hurts and dealt Carson Wentz to Indianapolis. First-year coach Nick Sirianni and Hurts led the Eagles to a NFC wild card appearance, but Hurts’ first postseason start was rough. Hurts finished with 3,144 passing yards, 16 TDs and nine interceptions. He added 784 rushing yards.
Who starts in 2022? Hurts will be the starter, and it would be wise to keep Gardner Minshew on as a reliable backup. Minshew played well in two starts while Hurts was dealing with an ankle injury.
Who started this year? Ben Roethlisberger passed for 3,740 yards, 22 TDs and 10 interceptions and led the Steelers to one last playoff run. Roethlisberger announced his retirement after 18 seasons.
Who starts in 2022? As it stands, Mason Rudolph or Dwayne Haskins would be the starter and the Steelers could draft a quarterback such as Sam Howell or Kenny Pickett for the future. Or, and the scenario that is bold and makes sense in the league’s toughest division, Pittsburgh makes the bold play and trades for Russell Wilson or Rodgers. In this case, we’ll say Pittsburgh goes out and gets Wilson to shake up the AFC North.
San Francisco 49ers
Who started this year? Didn’t we do this two years ago? Jimmy Garoppolo passed for 3,810 yards, 20 TDs and 12 interceptions and was an effective quarterback for Kyle Shanahan in leading another deep playoff run. But fans were wondering when 2021 first-round pick Trey Lance will take over. Garoppolo is not an elite quarterback, but he wins.
Who starts in 2022? The 49ers will gauge which teams are interested in Garoppolo, and Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh are interesting options. If the 49ers roll with Lance, then that is what will happen.
Who started this year? Russell Wilson passed for 3,113 yards, 25 TDs and six interceptions in 14 starts. Wilson suffered a hand injury and missed three starts. Geno Smith was 1-2 as a starter in his place. Wilson has been the subject of trade rumors for the last two seasons and the 33 year old has two years left on his contract.
Who starts in 2022? The Seahawks don’t have a first-round draft pick, so a trade would have to include that. If Wilson is traded, then Pittsburgh makes the most sense. Seattle could find its next quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft and sign a veteran off the market as the stopgap for a true rebuild.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Who started this year? Tom Brady passed for 5,316 yards, 43 TDs and 12 interceptions in the regular season. The Rams beat the Buccaneers 30-27 in the NFC divisional playoffs, but not before Brady led a remarkable comeback.
Who starts in 2022? Brady, who turns 45 in the offseason, finally retired. If he does, and that makes the Buccaneers the true wild card. Would Rodgers land here? The Packers would be more apt to trade Rodgers to aa AFC team. This could be the landing spot for Garoppolo.
Who started this year? Ryan Tannehill led the Titans to the playoffs for the third straight season, and he has 76 TDs and 27 interceptions in that stretch. The Titans earned the top seed in the AFC, but Tannehill threw three costly interceptions in the divisional playoff loss to Cincinnati.
Who starts in 2022? Would Tennessee be bold enough to trade for Wilson? If not, then Tannehill is going to be their starting quarterback in 2022. He has two years left on his contract. Perhaps Tennessee brings in a veteran backup for some competition just in case.
Washington Football Team
Who started this year? Ryan Fitzpatrick suffered a season-ending hip injury and made just one start. Taylor Heinicke finished with 3,419 yards, 20 TDs and 15 interceptions in 15 starts and could be part of the plan in 2022 if Ron Rivera opts for a rookie quarterback in the draft.
Who starts in 2022? SN’s latest mock has Washington taking Kenny Pickett, so that looks like the plan. Heinicke starts the season, and Pickett or another rookie is brought along as the starter. That makes more sense than Washington overpaying for Jimmy Garoppolo or Derek Carr in a trade. Carr would be the better option if that’s the route they go.