2023 Offseason Look Ahead: Quarterback
By Doug Harrelson
As we finish up our 2022 seasons and try to wrap up championships, this also becomes a good time to start sculpting your lineup for the upcoming offseason. There is a serious edge to be gained by jumping on these pieces before we know exactly where they will end up. Many players see reduced value at this stage due to their uncertainty. This becomes an excellent time to buy them before their price goes up as they land a quality opportunity during the offseason. This week we will start by looking at the Quarterback position in particular. While much of this discussion can apply to 1QB leagues, a majority of these guys are really only significant pieces when we start to speak about SuperFlex leagues.
To start this off we need to make a couple of assumptions or the number of permutations get unwieldy to deal with. That’s how this brief article ends up a small book that requires multiple sit downs to read through and starts to get simply dizzying to process. Here are my basic assumptions that should happen this offseason.
- Lamar Jackson remains in Baltimore either by franchise tag or extension
- Daniel Jones remains in New York either by franchise tag or extension
- Pittsburgh and Tennessee do not draft a rookie Quarterback in this years draft
- Kirk Cousins, Jared Goff, and Geno Smith retain starting positions going into 2023
- Derek Carr is on a new team in 2023
- Denver does not make a move in the offseason at Quarterback
- Tom Brady retires… again
- Ryan Tannehill will not be in Tennessee next season
The first two of these I believe get done. The Ravens situation may get hairy over the offseason but I believe a deal will get done or Lamar will play on the franchise tag. The Giants I could see hitting Jones with the tag. He has improved this season despite not having a ton of talent around him. If they use the tag on Barkley then they may need to find a way to extend him. Both Tennessee and Pittsburgh could theoretically move off their sophomore QBs but I think both will give their guy a second season to work it out. The Panthers and Falcons also drafted quarterbacks but I feel would be willing to take a QB if one they like is on the board and they are on the clock or can trade up. Next we have a group of vets; Cousins, Goff and Geno Smith. This group of veterans is interesting here. Cousins feels safe thanks to a really good first season with Kevin O’Connell. Goff and Geno may see a young QB drafted in their locker room but they have both earned the right to be the starter until someone beats them out. Both of those teams have high draft picks but not because of the play of Goff or Geno but because of trading the previous quarterback to a team that bombed this year. Perhaps the two teams with the best situation going into the offseason. When I originally wrote this article I had assumed Carr would still be in Las Vegas but recent news obviously suggests otherwise. While Denver cannot be happy with their quarterback situation, they have no real way to do much about it due to the contract for Wilson. Freshly divorced Tom may now have nothing to keep him from playing, this year has not seemed fun for the GOAT, I imagine we are seeing his final few games here. There are rumors of Tom finding a new team in 2023 but I’ll believe that when I see it. Finally I believe that this will be the final season of Ryan Tannehill in Tennessee. With a new GM coming in and Tennessee likely heading towards a rebuild, it is likely best for both parties to have a fresh start.
We still have one major domino we are unsure of though at this point. Will Aaron Rodgers be the starting QB in Green Bay? If the Packers make the playoffs then I believe there is a chance he stays in Green Bay but if not then a lot of this gets messy as someone will be bidding highly to acquire his services. In that hypothetical, the Jets and the Raiders seem like the best possible landing spots for him. From this point forward, for the sake of discussion, we will assume he is wearing green and yellow for the Packers next season. If he is gone I don’t anticipate another move at QB for the Packers and for Jordan Love to just move into the starting role.
So we end up with 20 teams that will likely make no moves at the QB position.
BUF, NE, MIA, BAL, PIT, CIN, CLE, JAC, TEN, DEN, KC, LAC, DAL, NYG, PHI, GB, CHI, SF, LAR, ARI
We have three teams that would only likely be in the market for a young QB
SEA, DET, MIN
Finally we have a group of 8 teams that could be in the market for a veteran and/or a rookie
NYJ, IND, WAS, ATL, CAR, NO, TB, HOU, LV
So now we must look at this upcoming Quarterback class, it appears that there are ~4-5 potential 1st round picks at QB this offseason. While later draft picks do succeed from time to time, teams do not often depend on them right off the bat. So with a potential 8 seats opened up in the offseason, up to half of them could be taken by rookies. Some things could shake that up, Seattle and Detroit being the big ones. They are both looking at a top 10 pick and while they have gotten reasonable play from their veteran QBs, it would not shock anyone if either of those teams took a QB. We could also have situations where a team both drafts a guy and brings in a veteran to compete and/or bring the young QB along. Finally if Rodgers is moved, a seat will be lost as Love would move up. So approximately 3-6 spots will be available for veteran QBs this offseason. Now let's look at our veteran QB market of who could potentially be available.
Best Case: NYJ starter
The Derek Carr news earlier this week has confirmed something that had some rumors circulating with the potential of the Raiders moving on from Carr. A lot of people have already begun photoshopping him in a Colts jersey but I think the Jets situation is better overall. The offensive line looks like it is heading in the right direction, a stout defense coupled with a great group of young pass catchers and a solid backfield group seems like a good landing spot. The Jet’s seem to be trending in the right direction and they know Carr is capable of stepping in and giving them some solid veteran play.
Best Case: NYJ starter
The Jets situation is a bit difficult to figure out. As I’ve mentioned before they seem to be trending in the right direction and therefore are quite an attractive location for a QB to land. White is an unrestricted free agent this offseason but I think the Jets will want to keep him and I think it is best for White to stay in New York as well. Excellent pass catching group of young talented players with a stout defense on the other side. The Jets could also be in the market for Carr, Rodgers or Garoppolo and I think this is likely the best spot for any QB to land after the offseason. If White is replaced, I would like Washington as a potential landing spot for the veteran. There is also the chance they retain White and go after another veteran in the offseason. This will be a situation to monitor over the offseason for sure.
Best Case: ATL starter
Living here in Nashville I am exposed to a lot of Titans news. I think whether by trade or by free agency, his time in Nashville is coming to a close. Tannehill at one point was a hero in the city for finally curing its quarterback woes since Steve McNair had left the city. After Arthur Smith took the job in Atlanta though, Tannehill has not been the same guy. This is why I believe that Atlanta is the perfect landing spot for Tannehill. While they did draft Desmond Ridder this past year, moving off of a 3rd round pick is not that hard to do. They could potentially draft someone early, bring in a vet or even both. If Tannehill does not land in Atlanta, I could see Washington as a potential landing spot.
Best Case: WAS/TB starter
The 49ers have an abundance of quarterbacks at this point and this has to be the offseason that finally leads to Jimmy G finding a new home. He definitely will want to end up somewhere with the plan of competing, regardless of whether or not they bring in a young guy too. Which I do believe limits his potential landing spots. The Jets would also make sense here too but I believe they are more likely to end up with Rodgers, Carr, or Mike White as their quarterback when all is said and done. Both Washington and Tampa Bay seem like great fits for Jimmy G’s services with talented WR groups and teams ready to compete right now.
Best Case: Bridge QB
The first three names listed I believe get starting jobs wherever they go. I believe Mayfield will likely end up in a place where they draft a QB and have Mayfield and the rookie compete for the starting job. Sean McVay has seemed to unlock some of the potential we have always known Mayfield to have. If he is to become a long term starter again, it is not likely with whatever team signs him this offseason. I suspect we see Mayfield sign a one year deal somewhere as a prove-it deal and then try to re-enter free agency in the 2024 offseason.
Best Case: Bridge QB
I feel the same about the 3rd overall pick of the 2018 class as I do the 1st overall pick of that class (Baker Mayfield). Darnold will likely find a team drafting a QB and compete for the job and serve as a bridge guy for the upcoming QB. Darnold did beat out Mayfield in Carolina for the starting job there but I think after how Mayfield played with the Rams, Mayfield will be the higher priority for teams in the offseason.
Best Case: Bridge QB
Such an easy player to root for, the personality, the swagger, the gunslinger mentality. There is a good chance that he just ends up a backup somewhere and a fantastic one at that, it would also make a lot of sense to have him play the role of bridge quarterback for a team. While capable of being a starter it does feel like the league has graded him as a high end backup. When he has come in for relief for the Eagles he has looked every bit the part of an NFL quarterback. I would imagine the Eagles will try to keep him if he doesn’t get any starting offers.
Best Case: NO starter
Soon to be former Jet Zach Wilson has had a massive collapse in such a short period of time in New York. He does not inspire confidence as a bridge guy given the questions about leadership and his effect on a locker room. His best case is to find a team that really has no other good options. New Orleans makes a lot of sense here. The combination of Dalton and Winston has been rough this season and the Saints do not have their 1st round pick so are unlikely to be able to draft a guy. Zach Wilson possesses some huge upside that would make sense for a team like the Saints to go after. If he fails, then you just get a better draft pick in 2024 but if he succeeds then you look like a genius. The Saints are typically an aggressive organization as far as the moves they make are concerned so I think this makes a lot of sense from a fit perspective.
Best Case: Bridge QB
Heinicke is about the bottom of the barrel for the bridge guys I would feel comfortable starting next season as an NFL team. The dude competes hard and is at least a reasonable player in this league. If I had to guess, I imagine he is a backup somewhere next season most likely but definitely someone that could serve in the bridge role. He falls into a similar tier as Minshew but I believe that Minshew has a much higher ceiling. If Washington grabs someone like Jimmy G, Rodgers or Derek Carr this offseason I could see them trying to keep Heinicke around as a backup.
Getting an idea of how many starting spots there are available and how many potential replacements there are is a great way to get ahead in your dynasty leagues. Many of these veterans could be bought at a backup price over the next couple of months before free agency and the draft occur. Excellent way for a contending team to find a QB3 in a SuperFlex league for the additional depth. Next week we will attack the running back position. Happy trading everyone and good luck to those competing in fantasy finals this week!