Every year trade, free agency, and draft rumors swirl around the NFL, most notably at the QB position. This offseason, there are questions about whether big-name quarterbacks may be moved due to disagreements with their front offices, among other things. Players like Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, DeShaun Watson, and even Kyler Murray are among those mentioned. The highest-caliber quarterback, Jameis Winston, is expected to be re-signed by the Saints.
The free agent QB class, outside of Winston, is, frankly, terrible. In this upcoming NFL draft, there are five prospects who could potentially be picked in the first round. Despite the class being considered “weak”, it’s the nature of the position. We’re rankings each team’s QB situation from tiers 1 to 5.
Tier 1: Need a QB Right Now
The teams, above, are in this tier primarily because they have above average rosters, without striking on a QB yet. For the Broncos, Teddy Bridgewater is set to be a free agent. Nonetheless he is not that good; he is a below average game manager. Drew Lock, while having an explosive arm, is not good either. With the roster the Broncos have, they are capable of doing damage with the right QB under center. The most likely big-name option is Aaron Rodgers, although it is hard to say whether the Packers are willing to let him go or not.
The Buccaneers, on the other hand, just found out that Tom Brady, PFF’s second highest graded QB last season, had chosen to retire. This leaves second year Kyle Trask to be the starter, or Blaine Gabbert. Still, Gabbert is about to be a free agent. Bruce Arians has only had praise for Gabbert, and it should be expected for him to be Tampa’s QB1 in Week 1. If they want to win big games, they should find a more viable long-term option.
Commanders, Panthers, Steelers
Ron Rivera and the Commanders have made it clear that they’re willing to break the bank for a QB. Clearly, Taylor Heinicke is not the future in Washington, and it’s likely they end up with either Russell Wilson or a high-end prospect, such as Liberty’s Malik Willis. The Carolina Panthers are stuck with Sam Darnold, though they are expected to be involved in the Watson/Wilson sweepstakes. Their roster isn’t as complete as the previous teams, but getting a QB now to build around would be ideal.
Pittsburgh seems adamant to stick with Mason Rudolph this season, after Ben Roethlisberger announced his retirement. Neither Rudolph nor former first round quarterback, Dwayne Haskins, seem like the solution in Pittsburgh though, long term. With their recent hiring of Brian Flores, the potential of a Deshaun Watson trade seems to arise, as there have been rumors linking Flores to Watson. It does appear more likely, though, that they end up trading up in the draft for Malik Willis, or sticking at the 20thpick, and taking Pitt’s Kenny Pickett or Ole Miss’s Matt Corral.
Tier 2: Could Upgrade, but Not Urgent:
Browns, Colts, Dolphins, Eagles
In this tier, the teams listed have a somewhat capable QB (aside from the Lions) that may not be the guy of the future. Cleveland’s situation is very familiar for most NFL fans. Browns’ Baker Mayfield is an okay QB, who has proven to be solid in past seasons, though regressed in 2021. The former first overall pick appears to be a bust, but Cleveland should still stick it out with him for one more year, and see how things go. He is absolutely a capable QB, he just gets very hot and cold sometimes, and lacks consistency.
The Colts appear to be letting Carson Wentz go, but while he is still on the team, and under contract, they will be in this tier. Wentz closed the 2021 season off terribly, but much like Mayfield, he has proven to have some success in the past. The Colts roster is good enough to win big games, the question is: Can Carson Wentz? If Indianapolis feels he can’t, how will they get a QB without a first round pick in this draft? Miami just got their new head coach in Mike McDaniel. McDaniel has been openly supportive of Tua Tagovailoa, who is not a bad QB, but not a good one either. Tua is basically the epitome of mediocrity. Could they upgrade at QB? Absolutely. Should they, or will they? Probably not this year.
The Eagles are in a similar situation, with Jalen Hurts, Tagovailoa’s teammate at Alabama. Hurts plain and simple will not be a top quarterback at any point in his career, contrary to what some believe. The Eagles’ support for him has been inconsistent. One day you hear a report that they have faith in Hurts, the next day you hear that they are looking to move on. It is really hard to tell how they feel. Another example of an average quarterback who could be upgraded on, but shouldn’t until there is a definitively better QB available.
Giants, Lions, Saints
The Giants seem to be sticking with Daniel Jones for another year; The right choice. Jones proved last season that, while healthy, he is a capable starter. Still, they should consider upgrading now. Regardless of other moves, they should plan to upgrade in case Jones struggles again, but as of now Jones and the Giants are in a pretty solid situation.
The Detroit Lions should draft a quarterback now; Jared Goff is a bottom five starting QB and in no way is the future QB for any NFL organization. Detroit was put in this tier because signing/trading/drafting a QB, to play for a bad roster, is stupid and pointless. Drafting a QB early and having him sit behind Goff would be a feasible and smart option. Still, Goff should be the starting QB in Detroit. Not for his talent, of course, but because they shouldn’t allow their QB of the future to be manhandled on a weekly basis. The roster is bad, and a fresh QB will suffer. Now, this may sound harsh: Let Goff take the beating this season, and build up the roster in order to play a new QB.
Lastly, the Saints have Jameis Winston projected to be the QB next year, despite being a free agent. Winston is a solid starter, and it was truthfully difficult to find a tier to place New Orleans in, but at the end of the day Winston is upgradable.
Tier 3: Will Need a QB Soon:
Falcons, Titans, Vikings
All three teams in this tier have older QBs. Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan will be 37 years old by the time the season rolls around. Titans’ Ryan Tannehill and Vikings’ Kirk Cousins will each be 34 by week one of this upcoming season. All three are capable starters; Cousins is still a higher-end QB, grading out as PFF’s sixth best QB (2+ dropbacks) last season. Expect all three teams to draft a QB early in the 2023 draft, or sign/trade one if necessary.
Tier 4: Hard to Tell:
Cardinals, Packers, Raiders, Seahawks, Texans
The Cardinals and Kyler Murray appear to be in a standoff regarding who to blame for their playoff loss. While Murray is absolutely a franchise-caliber quarterback, it is hard to say how much longer he will be in Arizona. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are in a similar standoff as well. It’s difficult to determine whether Rodgers will stay, want to be traded, or retire. The Packers drafted Jordan Love in the first round of the 2020 draft, but his development is reportedly not going as planned.
It seems Derek Carr will stick around in Las Vegas for the Raiders, though the question is for how long. It is hard to tell whether Las Vegas does end up trading Carr if they can’t settle on a long-term contract. The Seahawks have a depleted roster, and it seems Russell Wilson can’t carry that roster much longer. There are rumors he may want out, making it difficult to tell their QB situation next season, and down the line.
With regard to the Texans, they may have their QB of the future in Davis Mills. He played well near the tail-end of the 2021 season, although it is worth questioning how well he’ll perform in the future.
Tier 5: Don’t Need a QB:
Bears, Bengals, Bills, Chargers, Chiefs, Cowboys, Jaguars, Jets, Patriots, Rams, Ravens, 49ers
The teams in this tier do not need a QB this offseason. This is either because they drafted a quarterback in last year’s draft, or they have a proven franchise QB on the roster. The Bears, Jaguars, Jets, Patriots, and 49ers all took quarterbacks in the first round of the 2021 Draft; All of them struggled, but will be starting again in 2022.
The Bengals’ Joe Burrow, Bills’ Josh Allen, and Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, have all proven to be top tier quarterbacks. The Chargers’ Justin Herbert, Cowboys’ Dak Prescott, Rams’ Matthew Stafford, and Ravens’ Lamar Jackson have all established themselves as quality-to-above-average starters who will be a part of their respective teams long term.