• Texans, Colts, Panthers among those in dire need: The quarterback market will be active this offseason, whether it be in the draft or free agency.
• Ravens, Lamar Jackson in a tier of their own: It's a tricky situation in Baltimore, to say the least. The Ravens could agree to a long-term deal with Jackson, franchise-tag him or even pull off a tag-and-trade move.
• 49ers also in a unique situation: Rookie Brock Purdy has exceeded all expectations, and now San Francisco may have a decision to make regarding former first-round pick Trey Lance.
Estimated Reading Time: 13 mins
The most fun conversations and important questions to answer each year about the NFL landscape surround the quarterback position: Who has their guy and who doesn’t?
Here, we rank all 32 NFL teams’ need for a quarterback in the 2023 offseason, from dire to dream scenarios.
NOTHING ELSE MATTERS
Among the Texans' many roster woes, quarterback is at the top. Second-year signal-caller Davis Mills did show improvement this season, but it was very marginal, increasing his season passing grade from 58.5 to 61.9. With the 2023 NFL Draft's No. 2 overall pick in hand, expect the Texans to target that position.
The Colts’ quarterback carousel has been a nightmare since Andrew Luck retired. From Philip Rivers to Carson Wentz to Matt Ryan, Indianapolis has taken numerous swings on veteran quarterbacks, and each has failed to live up to expectations. They have the 11th-most effective cap space heading into the 2023 offseason, so a move for another veteran could happen. But, with the No. 4 overall pick, it feels a big draft splash is more likely.
The Panthers are another team that has been bargain bin shopping at the veteran quarterback market for years. They’ve brought in gently used models, like Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield, and even kicked the tires on Cam Newton for a second stint at one point. But now they sit in desperate need of a young franchise signal-caller to lead them into their next winning window.
It is hard to believe this team is here just two years after drafting Zach Wilson at No. 2 overall. Wilson’s play has hardly been reliable over the past two seasons. He finished his rookie campaign with a 54.8 passing grade, 10 big-time throws and 18 turnover-worthy plays. He was even worse in 2022 with a 45.1 passing grade, eight big-time throws and 17 turnover-worthy plays. Not to mention, he lost his job to end the season.
This is a playoff-worthy roster with one big hole to fill.
For almost a decade now, Derek Carr has been the Raiders' unquestioned quarterback. But that is no more. After a season in which Carr earned a 65.4 passing grade (the lowest since his rookie year) with 21 big-time throws and 19 turnover-worthy plays, the Raiders decided it was time to move on. They could still bring back Jarrett Stidham, but they’ll search for a big-time upgrade in free agency or the draft.
We saw only one game of rookie Sam Howell this past season, so it's unclear if the Commanders like what they have and will move forward with him and likely another quarterback in a training camp battle. But due to Howell being just a fifth-round pick, there isn’t a ton of understood confidence there for the position being his in 2023.
COULD USE AN UPGRADE
Veteran Andy Dalton actually played well versus expectation this season, garnering an 82.4 passing grade with 16 big-time throws, 10 turnover-worthy plays and a 76.8% adjusted completion percentage. But he was doing it all on a one-year deal, and with the Saints' “win now” window set to close as a rebuild commences, they’ll likely look elsewhere. They still have Jameis Winston under contract for another year and could ride with him in 2023, though not playing Winston at all down the stretch this past season puts that in doubt.
The Falcons went into the season with Marcus Mariota and third-round pick Desmond Ridder as their quarterback option. Mariota was the unquestioned starter to begin the season, but after he earned a 61.2 passing grade with just seven big-time throws and 16 turnover-worthy plays in 13 games, the team decided to make a change.
Ridder played well versus expectations in his four starts, with a 62.4 passing grade, three big-time throws and two turnover-worthy plays. The Falcons will likely keep their eyes open for an upgrade but could be comfortable with Ridder heading into 2023.
Ryan Tannehill was not as effective as he has been in the past with the Titans, but injury has a lot to do with that. He will likely be their quarterback for 2023, but it will be the last year of his deal, and he will be 35 years old. Will third-round pick Malik Willis be ready to take over after that? That’s the big question for the Titans, who, after finishing the season on a seven-game losing streak, seem a lot closer to a rebuild than a playoff push.
YOUNG QB UNDER EVALUATION
The Patriots are obviously still in a spot where they could roll with one of their young quarterbacks, Mac Jones or Bailey Zappe, but neither is inspiring too much confidence right now. The incumbent Jones finished the season with a 71.6 passing grade, but the Patriots' offense still just did not look like it was heading in the right direction. Perhaps that was the fault of their coordinator, Matt Patricia, whom they have since moved on from. We’ll get an answer to that question after seeing how aggressive New England gets in the quarterback market this offseason.
11. Chicago Bears
Justin Fields more positively impacted the Bears' offense this season, jumping from a 72.5 rushing grade last year to a 91.5 rushing grade in 2022. But his passing game still needs work after he earned a 60.8 passing grade in 2021 and a 54.4 passing grade in 2022. He’s likely Chicago's guy for next season, but them having the No. 1 pick does invite some interesting conversations.
12. Miami Dolphins
When healthy, Tua Tagovailoa put up some great numbers. He earned an 85.2 passing grade with a 74.2% adjusted completion percentage. But he did have 18 big-time throws and 17 turnover-worthy plays. His health is also a factor after he suffered multiple concussions this season. Most signs point to Tagovailoa being the guy in Miami for 2023, but there is some wiggle room for a big upgrade if the team sees one.
Tom Brady broke the record for most completions and attempts this season, so you know the 45-year-old's arm still has some juice in it. But he’s a pending free agent, so even if he’s not returning, there’s no guarantee he’d be back with the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay does have Kyle Trask, a 2021 second-round pick, but he’s completely unproven.
14. Los Angeles Rams
The Rams do still have Matthew Stafford under contract, but the preseason concerns over his elbow and the back injuries that forced him to miss most of the second half of the season raise concerns. The Rams could also bring back Baker Mayfield in a pinch. Reasonable worries exist here, but there is likely not a ton of change on the horizon, barring a Stafford retirement.
Like the previous two teams, Aaron Rodgers has his squad in a bit of a holding pattern. Rodgers signed a massive contract extension the previous offseason but has been thinking about retirement now for a few years. If he retires, the Packers do have Jordan Love, which is why Green Bay is the lowest of the three veteran teams on this list.
LAMAR JACKSON TIER
16. Baltimore Ravens
This unique situation belongs in a tier of its own. The Ravens cannot compete at a high level without Lamar Jackson. But the two were already seemingly far apart on a long-term contract extension, and then Jackson suffered a knee injury that forced him to miss not only the final fourth of the regular season but ultimately their final game of the year in a wild-card loss to the Bengals. If you believe social media cues, Jackson doesn’t seem to be pounding his chest about being a Raven moving forward. Perhaps a tag-and-trade move is on the horizon.
THINGS TO LIKE
There were some concerns about first-round pick Kenny Pickett not being able to beat out Mitch Trubisky for the starting job to open the season, but after eventually becoming the full-time starter, Pickett played well, especially down the stretch. Since Week 12, he earned a 90.3 overall grade with an 88.5 passing grade. Though it was just a six-week span, it was impressive to see.
18. Detroit Lions
Jared Goff had the Lions' offense roaring (get it?) this season as one of the highest-scoring units in the league. Of course, offensive coordinator Ben Johnson had a lot to do with that, as was evident by Goff still making more turnover-worthy plays (22) than big-time throws (16). Still, it was a much better season from Goff overall, which means the Lions probably won’t force a quarterback upgrade. But with the No. 6 and No. 18 overall picks in the upcoming draft, they could take a chance on one.
19. New York Giants
Daniel Jones has silenced a lot of critics this year (myself included). I’m not about to put him in an elite tier or anything, but this was certainly his best year with maybe his worst supporting cast in the passing game. Jones finished the regular season with a 78.9 overall grade, a 73.1 passing grade and an 82.3 rushing grade — with the overall and rushing grades being team highs. Jones is up for a contract extension, so there is some uncertainty, but with the Giants still alive in the playoffs, it’s hard to imagine anyone else under center for them in 2023.
20. Seattle Seahawks
Geno Smith was one of the best stories of the 2022 NFL season. He ranked second in big-time throws (33) to Josh Allen and passed for more than 4,000 yards with a 77.8% adjusted completion percentage. The only potential doubt here about Smith staying in Seattle is the Seahawks holding the No. 5 overall pick. Could they be tempted by a quarterback?
DISAPPOINTED, BUT STUCK
21. Cleveland Browns
Deshaun Watson was not good this season after returning from his 11-game suspension. His 1.7% big-time throw percentage and 4.1% turnover-worthy play percentage were the worst ratios of his career. But the Browns signed him to a massive, fully guaranteed contract when they traded for him, so he’s not going anywhere.
22. Denver Broncos
The Broncos are indeed stuck with Russell Wilson. After the team spent a king’s ransom of both draft capital and cap space to bring him to Denver, Wilson and the offense’s performance in 2022 was so bad that it got their first-year head coach fired. Wilson’s 64.5 passing grade was the worst mark of his career and his first grade in the 60s for a full season. But the Broncos signed him to a five-year deal, so whoever is wearing the headset next in Denver will have to make it work.
Kirk Cousins had a good season in 2022. For the most part, he played better under pressure (the big narrative against him), and his team finished the regular season 13-3 en route to the No. 3 seed in the playoffs. But the way in which their playoff loss finished will leave a bad taste in people’s mouths. 2023 is the final year of Cousins’ deal, but he won’t be going anywhere — at least not until that deal is done, given the guarantees and the void years within it.
KYLE SHANAHAN TIER
Like the Ravens' situation (only much more hopeful), the Niners need a tier of their own. It feels like Kyle Shanahan has done the impossible: make an NFL offense quarterback-proof. Now, I don’t say that as an insult to Jimmy Garoppolo, Brock Purdy or even Trey Lance. But all three of those guys, with varying degrees of style and experience, have found success in Shanahan’s offense. Right now, it seems like Garappolo will be out. Is Purdy's impressive run enough to say this team won’t consider quarterback upgrades this offseason? Do they believe in Lance enough for that, as well? I still think if a major upgrade came along (Tom Brady), the 49ers would make a move.
HIGH CEILING, MODERATE FLOOR
25. Dallas Cowboys
Dak Prescott is a high-ceiling quarterback, but with the way he’s turning the ball over this season, it’s hard to put him much lower on this list. In 12 games, he’s made 18 turnover-worthy plays. That comes out to a 4.2% rate, the highest in his career. Does it take away from the other aspects of quarterbacking he does well? No, but it’s there.
Kyler Murray has played at MVP levels at times over the past two seasons. But the marriage between him and Kliff Kingsbury is now over, and he might be losing his No. 1 target in DeAndre Hopkins due to a rebuilding philosophy. He’s also going to miss most of, if not all of, next season while recovering from an ACL tear. The Cardinals aren’t going to be changing Murray at quarterback, but the future of how long he’ll be the guy is less certain, even after that big contract extension.
VERY GOOD, COULD BE ELITE
Jalen Hurts has truly taken his game to the next level this season — an MVP level, in fact. His 85.6 overall grade, 80.6 passing grade and 84.4 rushing grade are all career highs by a wide margin. His 77.8% adjusted completion rate ranked fourth highest in the league this year. He’s the guy in Philly.
Though it has still been an up-and-down season for Trevor Lawrence, the “ups” have the Jaguars still alive in the divisional round as AFC South champions. He and Doug Pederson are a perfect head coach-quarterback match, and many of the doubts that clouded Lawrence's rookie season are gone.
Justin Herbert continues to display one of the best arms in the NFL, although his average depth of target on the season (7.0 yards) could be higher. His 12 turnover-worthy plays and 1.2% turnover-worthy play rate show good care for the football. That’s on top of him trailing only Patrick Mahomes for total passing yards this season. He’s not going anywhere.
BUILDING THE FRANCHISE AROUND THEM
30. Buffalo Bills
Josh Allen continued to show how alien-like his arm talent is this year with 43 big-time throws to lead all quarterbacks. He did also lead the league in turnover-worthy plays (33), but sometimes that’s just what happens when allowing a player like Allen to play freely and impactfully in the passing game. The good far outweighs the bad. He’s the franchise in Buffalo.
Joe Burrow was PFF’s top-graded passer this season, boasting a 90.5 mark. He made 29 big-time throws to just 14 turnover-worthy plays, leading his team to an AFC North title. In big moments, he’s in that final tier of elite quarterbacks you want with the ball in their hands.
Even without Tyreek Hill, Patrick Mahomes reminded us all of how special a talent he is. After passing for more than 5,000 yards yet again, he’s likely going to capture his second MVP trophy. He led his team to tie for the best record in the NFL at 14-3 and claimed the No. 1 seed in the AFC. There are not enough good things to say about Mahomes. He is everything you could ever want in a quarterback.