• Derek Carr the top realistic free-agent option? Carr has been a solid starter but ranked 25th in PFF passing grade (65.4) in 2022 and may not be anybody’s first choice as a solution.
• Will size concerns drop Bryce Young down draft boards? Young is the top player on PFF’s big board and the owner of by far the best college tape of the class, but his size is going to be virtually unprecedented in the NFL.
• Justin Fields up for grabs? Chicago stumbling into the No. 1 overall pick puts the prospect of trading away Justin Fields on the table. Already halfway through his cheap rookie contract, the Bears still don’t know exactly what they have other than one of the most electrifying athletes in the game.
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
All 32 NFL teams are firmly into the team-building process, and for many, that starts with analyzing the quarterback market and identifying their next starter. After all, Quarterback is everything in today’s NFL, and it’s only getting more important as a position.
Teams can address the position in three key areas — free agency, the 2023 NFL Draft or by trading for a player — so here we will look at how each market looks as we head into what promises to be another fascinating offseason.
Best Free Agents (rank among PFF’s Top 100 free agents)
- Lamar Jackson (1)
- Geno Smith (2)
- Derek Carr (10)
- Daniel Jones (14)
- Jimmy Garoppolo (27)
- Jacoby Brissett (33)
- Andy Dalton (N/A)
- Baker Mayfield (N/A)
- Teddy Bridgewater (N/A)
- Mike White (N/A)
Several of these players have no chance of actually hitting unrestricted free agency, as their teams are either planning to sign them to a new long-term contract or a shorter-term franchise tag or even to tag-and-trade them if the right offer comes along.
If you remove Jackson, Smith and Jones as real options — though that’s speculation, particularly when it comes to Smith — the cupboard starts to look significantly barer.
Carr becomes the obvious class of the freely available passers and one of maybe two (Garoppolo being the other) who have a real case to start next season. Carr has been a solid starter but ranked 25th in PFF passing grade (65.4) in 2022 and may not be anybody’s first choice as a solution.
Best QBs in the 2023 NFL Draft (PFF Big Board rank)
- Byrce Young, Alabama (1)
- Will Levis, Kentucky (4)
- C.J. Stroud, Ohio State (5)
- Anthony Richardson, Florida (11)
- Tanner McKee, Stanford (29)
- Hendon Hooker, Tennessee (94)
- Aidan O’Connell, Purdue (132)
- Jake Haener, Fresno State (144)
- Stetson Bennett, Georgia (162)
- Clayton Tune, Houston (181)
Four quarterbacks are in the running to be drafted in the top 10, but after that, this class quickly starts to get thin.
Among those top four players will be some huge diversity of evaluation. Young is the top player on PFF’s big board and the owner of by far the best college tape of the group, but his size is going to be virtually unprecedented in the NFL — he is listed at 6-foot, 194 pounds, and judging by photographs of him standing next to other people, he could realistically be closer to 5-foot-10, 180.
How much do teams care that he will be playing at a size the game hasn’t seen since the days when offensive linemen weighed 230 pounds?
If teams do care about size, Kentucky's Will Levis is an obvious anthesis. Levis is 6-foot-3, 232 pounds with a big frame and excellent physical tools. His play is notably worse than Young’s, but so was his supporting cast, especially in 2022. C.J. Stroud from Ohio State also stands 6-foot-3 but is much slighter at around 215 pounds.
Florida's Anthony Richardson presents the real x-factor in this draft. He owns the best physical tools, he is the best rushing threat and he has the biggest arm, but he is also the furthest away from being a conventional passing quarterback and represents arguably the biggest project. He is a great case study for how emboldened the NFL is by the recent success of quarterbacks with exceptional tools becoming very good NFL players.
Best QBs Available via Trade
- Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
- Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
- Justin Fields, Chicago Bears
- Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers
- Zach Wilson, New York Jets
Jackson is technically headed for unrestricted free agency, but there is virtually no chance the Ravens allow that to happen. And if he is going to be playing for another team in 2023, it’s because the Ravens slapped the franchise tag on him before trading him.
Jackson and the Ravens haven’t been able to get close on a new contract, and given that he's missed significant game time in back-to-back seasons and that he has a unique playstyle within a unique offense that will likely now change with Baltimore's new offensive coordinator, it’s easy to see why the Ravens would have reservations.
Rodgers is once again the obvious trade prize this offseason and likely represents Plan A for a lot of NFL teams.
After Rodgers, several young quarterbacks could tempt teams. Chicago stumbling into the No. 1 overall pick puts the prospect of trading away Justin Fields on the table. Already halfway through his cheap rookie contract, the Bears still don’t know exactly what they have other than one of the most electrifying athletes in the game.
Brock Purdy‘s success for San Francisco this past season likely puts Trey Lance on the trading block, even with Purdy’s elbow injury. Lance still has immense tools, but he will be a big gamble for any team looking to install him as a starter.
Wilson’s days as a starter are likely over, but he could be an intriguing reclamation project for a team willing to offer him a fresh start.