We may look back on the 2021 offseason as a pivotal moment for NFL roster construction — three highly paid quarterbacks switched teams, including now-Super Bowl champion Matthew Stafford with the Los Angeles Rams. Future Hall of Fame wide receiver Julio Jones also went to a new squad, among many other notable trades throughout the 2021 season. NFL clubs seem more willing to move players depending on their respective roster situations, and perhaps this trend continues into the 2022 offseason.
This year’s quarterback carousel should be just as exciting as the 2021 offseason, with the first big domino still yet to fall. To understand exactly what each quarterback brings to the table and where they may fit best, PFF’s 2022 QB Annual has you covered.
Click here for more PFF tools:
QBs who may have changed their value and/or landing spot:
Seattle Seahawks trade QB Russell Wilson to Philadelphia Eagles
- Terms: Eagles send 2022 1st, 2023 1st, 2022 3rd
- Seahawks dead money: $26M
- Eagles inherited contract: Two years, $51M
The Eagles try to follow the Los Angeles Rams’ precedent here with a similar value trade for Russell Wilson, who is the same age as Matthew Stafford and has a similar remaining contract as Stafford did last offseason. The issue with trying to reconcile the Stafford-for-Jared Goff trade value is: How was Goff valued in the deal?
There’s a possibility the blockbuster trade was truly:
- Stafford → Rams for a 1st and 3rd
- Goff and a 1st → Lions for salary relief
Mike Renner’s recent mock draft has Wilson headed to the Eagles, with the Seahawks hitting the reset button at quarterback. Philadelphia inherits a quarterback who earned over three wins above replacement on average from 2012 to 2020. When factoring in the first- and second-round picks the Eagles acquired from the Indianapolis Colts, they end up close to net even in a swap of Carson Wentz for Russell Wilson.
San Francisco 49ers trade QB Jimmy Garoppolo to Washington Commanders
- Terms: Commanders send 2023 2nd, 2022 4th
- 49ers dead money: $1.4M
- Commanders inherited contract: One year, $25.6 million
Garoppolo has become one of the more polarizing quarterbacks in the NFL, as he once again led the 49ers to multiple playoff victories — throwing an interception in each and a touchdown pass in neither. The most important question is, of course, whether Garoppolo can still lead his team to big wins without Kyle Shanahan scheming things up as well as any coach in the NFL, a stout offensive line and dynamic playmakers in the form of wide receiver Deebo Samuel and tight end George Kittle.
Garoppolo made just 10 big-time throws compared to 23 turnover-worthy plays in 2021, almost the inverse of his 20 touchdown passes to 12 interceptions. Samuel’s 83-yard touchdown against the Chicago Bears is a good example of why big-time throws and turnover-worthy plays can serve as a more informed TD/INT ratio:
DEEBO SAMUEL. 83 YARDS. #FTTB
— NFL (@NFL) October 31, 2021
All of that said, quarterback desperation in the NFL is real. Garoppolo would still serve as a sizable upgrade over Taylor Heinicke and Alex Smith. The question is whether that upgrade is worth $30M-plus more per year.
QBs more likely to stay with their current team but could still move:
Green Bay Packers trade QB Aaron Rodgers to Denver Broncos
- Terms: Broncos send 2022 1st, 2023 1st, 2022 2nd (Denver), 2022 3rd (Denver)
- Packers dead money: $26,847,138
- Broncos inherited contract: One year, $26,970,588
Rodgers has made it clear he won’t wait long to decide his NFL future, and he’s also continued to express gratitude toward general manager Brian Gutekunst for accommodating a lot of his requests from last offseason. Rodgers certainly backed up his off-field frustration with another elite regular season, bringing home his second consecutive MVP award.
Since 2020, Rodgers’ 85 touchdown passes are the most of any quarterback, while his nine interceptions rank tied for 37th. His 79.5% adjusted completion rate ranks third among quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts over the past two seasons, and he’s earned PFF’s top grade on play-action attempts (93.3) despite expressing some trepidation about turning his back to opposing defenses so often in head coach Matt LaFleur’s play-action heavy offense. Whatever you ask Rodgers to do, he can become the best in the league at it in short order.
Even at 38 years old and likely expecting a contract extension that surpasses Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ $45 million per year average, Rodgers will have zero discount on the trade market. You don’t acquire a back-to-back MVP for anything less than a monster trade package. The Denver Broncos added extra second- and third-round picks from the Los Angeles Rams for edge defender Von Miller, hired former Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to be their head coach and are perfectly positioned to pull the trigger on this offseason’s blockbuster move.
Las Vegas Raiders trade QB Derek Carr to Pittsburgh Steelers
- Terms: Steelers send 2022 1st, 2023 1st, 2022 3rd
- Raiders dead money: $0
- Steelers inherited contract: One year, $19,877,519
New Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels would probably be a perfect offensive play-caller for Carr. He puts an emphasis on a power run game that utilizes multiple tight ends and complements the rushing attack with a quick-out passing game that attacks the middle of the field.
Here is where receivers in McDaniels’ Patriots offenses tended to run their routes:
Here is where Carr tends to throw the ball:
Nevertheless, the last time McDaniels became a head coach with the Denver Broncos, he promptly traded quarterback Jay Cutler to the Chicago Bears for a big haul.
Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert is set to step down after the 2022 NFL Draft, and with a group of quarterback prospects who all come with major question marks, a trade for a proven commodity in Carr could be the lasting impression he wants to leave on the franchise he managed so well for the past 20-plus years. Colbert is the first and only general manager in Steelers history, and this move sends him off with a bang.
Related content for you:
Minnesota Vikings trade QB Kirk Cousins to Carolina Panthers
- Terms: Panthers send 2022 1st, 2023 2nd
- Vikings dead money: $10M
- Panthers inherited contract: One year, $35M fully guaranteed
The Panthers have made a lot of changes already this offseason, most notably the hiring of former New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo to serve as their next offensive coordinator. McAdoo is remembered for his struggles as a head coach, but when he served as the Giants' offensive coordinator in 2014-15, the team’s .077 expected points added per dropback figure ranked 11th in the NFL.
Eli Manning’s 2.165 wins above replacement in 2014 was his best season from 2013 through the end of his career, and frankly, McAdoo deserves some respect for recognizing Manning’s best years were behind him and attempting to move on in 2017. Instead, the Giants chased mediocrity, which ultimately got them to where they are today — one of the league’s worst teams of the past half-decade. McAdoo also got a lot out of Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew in 2020.
The hope is that he can cater the offense to his quarterback’s skill set. While his up-tempo, West Coast-style offense with the quarterback in shotgun has not been one that Kirk Cousins excels in — it may have led to former Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo’s firing — perhaps McAdoo can make some tweaks in a pivotal year for everyone in Carolina.
From Minnesota’s perspective, new general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and new head coach Kevin O’Connell start fresh, working through a down 2022 season while building around phenom wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Carolina gave up most of its 2022 draft capital for quarterback Sam Darnold, among other moves, but if any general manager wouldn’t fall for the fallacy that is placing a time value on draft picks, one would think it’s Adofo-Mensah.
Dallas Cowboys trade WR Amari Cooper to Jacksonville Jaguars
- Terms: Jaguars send 2022 2nd, 2022 5th
- Cowboys dead money: $6M
- Jaguars inherited contract: Three years, $60M, $20M total guaranteed
It’s no secret Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is unhappy with how the 2021 season unfolded, and that frustration certainly extends to No. 1 wide receiver Amari Cooper, whose 73.9 receiving grade, 68 receptions and 865 receiving yards are all his lowest marks since 2017.
Cooper’s five-year, $100 million extension signed with the Cowboys in 2020 was structured in a way that creates a clean exit opportunity this offseason, and perhaps Dallas gets out from the deal and focuses its efforts on retaining wide receiver Michael Gallup and tight end Dalton Schultz, with an eventual huge extension for wide receiver CeeDee Lamb also on the horizon.
The trade compensation is very similar to the move that sent Julio Jones to the Tennessee Titans, with Tennessee sending second- and fourth-round picks in exchange for Jones and a sixth-round pick. However, the Jaguars’ second-round pick in 2022 is No. 33 overall, whereas the Falcons received pick No. 58 in this year’s draft from Tennessee.
Furthermore, Jones’ contract that traveled to Tennessee was almost half of Cooper’s at just three years, $38.32 million. An acquiring team could ask the Cowboys to pay some of Cooper’s $20 million 2022 salary by converting it into a signing bonus prior to the trade, which would boost the compensation the Cowboys ultimately received. That doesn’t happen in our hypothetical deal, as Dallas looks to clear as much salary as possible, and this is why the trade package is similar even though Cooper will be four years younger than Jones was last offseason.
Finally, the Jones trade also occurred after June 1 for salary cap considerations that do not apply to Cooper, so it’s likely there were fewer teams with a sufficient cash budget remaining. Long story short, while the two trade packages are similar, they have many differences as well and arrive at a similar endpoint for unique reasons.
Jacksonville is in dire need of a true No. 1 wideout for quarterback Trevor Lawrence, and new Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson saw plenty of Cooper when the two battled in the NFC East during his time with the Eagles.
Other potential fits: New York Jets
Atlanta Falcons trade WR Calvin Ridley to New England Patriots
- Terms: Patriots send 2022 2nd
- Falcons dead money: $0
- Patriots inherited contract: One year, $11.116M fully guaranteed
The last time the Patriots traded a second-round pick to the Atlanta Falcons for a wide receiver, they were working to keep quarterback Tom Brady happy and push for a fourth straight Super Bowl appearance. Mohamed Sanu’s time with New England didn’t work out so well, and he was cut after just half a season. But the circumstances here are very different.
Here, Ridley and Patriots quarterback Mac Jones already have the Alabama connection, and New England in theory will be much more patient as it builds its way back to contender status. Ridley is set to play in 2022 on his fifth-year option, and it’s hard to imagine a team offering him a substantial multi-year extension before seeing him back on the field.
From 2018 to 2020, Ridley’s 82 explosive receptions ranked tied for sixth among wide receivers. He proved he can still put up big numbers as a No. 1 outside wide receiver even with Julio Jones not commanding a lot of defensive attention opposite him. New England’s group of pass-catchers certainly took a step forward in 2021, with wide receiver Kendrick Bourne excelling in an expanded role, tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith slowly coming along and undrafted slot receiver Jakobi Meyers continuing to improve. The addition of Ridley opens things up for everyone.
Houston Texans trade WR Brandin Cooks to Las Vegas Raiders
- Terms: Raiders send 2022 4th, 2023 2nd
- Texans dead money: $7.5M
- Raiders inherited contract: One year, $13,735,294
New Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler know Cooks well from his time spent with the New England Patriots in 2017. Cooks put up a career-best 16.6 yards per reception, going over 1,000 total yards on the season en route to a Super Bowl appearance. The following season, Cooks played against the Patriots in the Super Bowl as a member of the Los Angeles Rams.
All Cooks does is show up at his new club’s facility, work hard and put up 1,000 receiving yards. The Raiders would of course keep quarterback Derek Carr in this scenario and add an outside vertical threat that their offense needs. Cooks clearly showed with his time in Houston that he’s a great addition to any locker room, and the Raiders would benefit from his presence.
He was drafted in 2014 but is actually three months younger than Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp, who was drafted in 2017. While Cooks’ game is more reliant on speed, he is also a strong route runner and still has good football ahead of him. Despite the dysfunction at quarterback in Houston, Cooks earned receiving grades of 80.5 and 77.3 in 2020 and 2021, respectively, topping 1,000 yards both years and setting a career-high with 90 receptions in 2021.
Houston Texans trade OT Tytus Howard to Miami Dolphins
- Terms: Dolphins send 2022 4th (via Steelers)
- Texans dead money: $1,727,827
- Dolphins inherited contract: One year, $2,162,121
Howard’s situation is reminiscent of Chiefs tackle Orlando Brown Jr.‘s with the Baltimore Ravens before the 2021 season. Howard was drafted in the first round in 2019 as a left tackle prospect out of Alabama State, but the Texans already had one of the best left tackles in the NFL in Laremy Tunsil.
After Houston experimented with Howard at right tackle and even some left guard, he finally returned to left tackle for a stretch of the 2021 season and made the absolute most of the opportunity. Howard started at left tackle in Weeks 12-14 plus Week 18, and his 89.9 pass-blocking grade over those four games was the top mark among all tackles over the span. While not a huge sample, Howard logged 156 pass-blocking snaps and allowed just two quarterback pressures.
Miami adds much-needed help along its front five, and while Howard deserves the opportunity to prove himself at left tackle, the Dolphins can still find a place for him along their league-worst offensive line if it doesn't work out.
Minnesota Vikings trade C Garrett Bradbury to Los Angeles Rams
- Terms: Rams send edge defender Justin Hollins, 2022 7th (via Miami Dolphins)
- Vikings dead money: $1,847,340
- Rams inherited contract: One year, $2,251,755
Bradbury has had a rough start to his career after the Vikings drafted him in the first round in 2019, even though he stepped in as the starter under center from Day 1. Through three seasons, he has yet to earn a season-long pass-blocking grade of 45.0 or better, and he’s allowed at least 25 quarterback pressures each year.
Bradbury was drafted with the 18th overall pick at a non-premium position because he excelled as a zone run blocker — pretty much the opposite of how a team should approach using a top-20 pick. Halfway through the 2021 campaign, Bradbury was benched with a 35.9 pass-blocking grade that ranked dead last among centers with at least 50 such snaps through Week 8. To his credit, his pass-blocking grade following his return in Week 13 was over 20 points higher at 57.3.
This deal is akin to the Cincinnati Bengals trading former first-round center Billy Price to the New York Giants for interior defender B.J. Hill shortly before the 2021 season. New Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell is the former Rams offensive coordinator, and Rams center Brian Allen is slated to be a free agent this offseason. With a lot of Rams players in need of new contracts, staying cheap at center with a proven scheme fit in the run game could be a necessary gamble.
Washington Commanders trade DI Matt Ioannidis to Cleveland Browns
- Terms: Browns send 2022 5th
- Commanders dead money: $1.5M
- Browns inherited contract: One year, $6.9M
The Browns relied on one-year fliers and rookie contract players on the interior of their defensive line, but that approach gave way to a unit that ranked dead last in 2021 with a 40.6 overall grade. Edge defenders Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney looked like a pair of No. 1 overall picks on the outside, but physical teams like the Patriots were able to bully Cleveland up front at times.
Ioannidis has earned 70.0-plus pass-rush grades in five consecutive seasons and enters the final year of a three-year extension signed in 2019. The Commanders signed 2017 first-round interior defender Jonathan Allen to a four-year, $72 million ($18M per year) extension before the 2021 season, and 2018 first-round interior defender Daron Payne is set to play on his fifth-year option in 2022, barring an extension.
With how bad Washington’s defense performed in 2021, continuing to pour resources into the unit while the offense is in need of major improvements would not be wise. The move could be a win-win for all parties involved.
Minnesota Vikings trade EDGE Danielle Hunter to Buffalo Bills
- Terms: Bills send 2023 2nd, 2022 4th
- Vikings dead money: $11.48M
- Bills inherited contract: Two years, $25.5M
One of the more complicated contractual situations in the NFL will play out between the Vikings and star edge defender Danielle Hunter. Hunter was justifiably unhappy with his contract heading into the 2021 campaign but was also coming off a season-ending injury, so the two sides elected to punt the decision to 2022.
New Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah now has to navigate a tricky situation with a March deadline quickly approaching — when Hunter’s $18 million 2022 roster bonus is due. The roster bonus was added in the 2021 offseason to serve as a trigger date for Minnesota to either extend, trade or cut Hunter. Complicating matters is the fact he once again suffered a season-ending injury, but not before he compiled 31 quarterback pressures with an 80.8 overall grade through Week 8.
Hunter will still be just 27 years old in Week 1 of 2022 and is a force multiplier for any defense. The Bills used their first and second-round picks in 2021 on edge defenders Gregory Rousseau and Carlos Basham, but all three players can also kick inside and line up opposite guards. Hunter could be the final piece that puts the Bills' roster over the edge.
Last but not least, a reunion with former Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs could help ease the transition for Hunter to a new franchise. However, it could be too hard for Adofo-Mensah to “sell low” on an elite pass-rusher.
Other potential fits: Jacksonville Jaguars
Denver Broncos trade EDGE Bradley Chubb to New York Giants
- Terms: Giants send 2022 3rd (via Dolphins), 2022 4th (via Bears)
- Broncos dead money: $0
- Giants inherited contract: One year, $13.926M fully guaranteed
The Giants have extra first- and fourth-round picks acquired during the 2021 NFL Draft from the Bears and an extra third-round pick acquired from the Miami Dolphins. While new general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll may need to be patient as they overhaul one of the most expensive and least talented rosters in the NFL, it nevertheless may be tough to pass up good opportunities if they present themselves.
Here, the Broncos look to recoup some draft capital after giving up a massive haul for quarterback Aaron Rodgers in our earlier trade hypothetical. After moving on from edge defender Von Miller during the 2021 season, parting with Chubb may be too much for Denver to stomach, but perhaps they agree that this is the right decision for all parties if the two sides are far apart in extension negotiations. Much like with Hunter, this would also be a team selling low on a player who has shown flashes of elite play, which isn’t exactly a common occurrence in the NFL.
New Giants defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale loves to dial up pressure out of multiple fronts, and Chubb could be a perfect fit. The Broncos deployed him as an outside linebacker, a role in which he thrived when healthy, but he played defensive end in college before converting a bit at the NFL level. The Giants' defensive roster is currently constructed for a 3-4 base defense, and another outside linebacker opposite 2021 second-round pick edge defender Azeez Ojulari could lead to a major leap for the team's pass-rush unit.
Green Bay Packers trade EDGE Za’Darius Smith to Baltimore Ravens
- Terms: Ravens send 2022 4th (compensatory)
- Packers dead money: $12.38M
- Ravens inherited contract: One year, $15.75M
Smith signed a four-year, $66 million ($16.5M per year) contract with the Packers in the 2019 offseason following the expiration of his four-year rookie contract with the Ravens. Smith’s final season in Baltimore saw him break out with career highs across the board, including his 79.3 pass-rush grade, 60 quarterback pressures and 10 sacks.
His first two seasons in Green Bay were everything the Packers could have hoped for — 144 quarterback pressures and 29 sacks — but he missed almost the entirety of the 2021 campaign to injury. Smith was reportedly unhappy with how his contract was handled prior to the season, and it’s possible he would rather be outright released so he can choose his next team. However, the thinking here is he would be excited to return to the team that drafted him, and perhaps contract particulars can get sorted out at a later date.
The Ravens are projected to have five fourth-round picks, including multiple compensatory picks, and they’ve done a good job of flipping Day 3 selections for proven starters the past few years, such as when they acquired interior defender Calais Campbell from the Jaguars for a fifth-rounder in 2020. Campbell will be 36 years old in Week 1 of 2022, though he’s shown very few signs of slowing down. Smith slots right in as a pass-rusher who can win from anywhere along the defensive line.
Miami Dolphins trade CB Noah Igbinoghene to New York Jets
- Terms: Jets send 2022 6th
- Dolphins dead money: $2,872,436
- Jets inherited contract: Two years, $3,777,775
The Jets continue to turn over their roster, and thus far they’ve prioritized their trench units with early-round picks and free-agent dollars while looking for secondary help in later rounds and on cheaper contracts. While it’s not super common for teams to trade with division rivals, Jets head coach Robert Saleh worked with new Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel for years with the San Francisco 49ers, and here the two collaborate to get Igbinoghene a fresh start.
Igbinoghene has struggled to get on the field since he was selected with the No. 30 overall pick in 2020, logging just 78 snaps in 2021 while playing behind Dolphins star outside cornerbacks Xavien Howard and Byron Jones. The Jets take a low-risk flier on an extremely athletic and still very young Igbinoghene while still allowing themselves to dedicate more resources elsewhere.
This deal resembles several other recent trades for highly drafted cornerbacks, including Seattle Seahawks cornerback Sidney Jones, Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Mike Hughes and Dolphins defensive back Eric Rowe.