As we approach NFL free agency, there are around 8 to 12 teams that are currently looking for a new QB. Whether their former long-time QB retired, their starter became a free agent, or they’re just looking for an upgrade, there is a significant portion of the league looking to upgrade the position. The teams that need a QB the most include the Broncos, Steelers, Saints, Commanders, and Lions. As teams look at the various ways to add QB talent, they must tier out the talent available through free agency, trade, or the draft.
As these teams sift through the different possibilities at QB, let’s first start with who is potentially available on the trade market.
This offseason, we could see some large names change their homes in return for some draft picks to their current team: Aaron Rodgers, Jimmy Garoppolo, Russell Wilson, and Deshaun Watson. While the Packers will spend their entire offseason trying to woo and bring back the MVP Aaron Rodgers, the 49ers might feel that moving on from Garoppolo and allowing Trey Lance to take the reins will be the best decision for their future output.
Currently, the team in the best position to possibly trade for a quarterback such as Rodgers or Wilson would be the Denver Broncos. The Broncos currently have the offensive pieces necessary to compete immediately. Their defense is very strong and has potential to be one of the best defenses in the league with key talent at major positions. Wilson has proven that he can win with a strong defense and explosive running game, and Denver has both.
A trade return could look similar to one Detroit received in the Matthew Stafford deal, despite Stafford being a bit younger and Wilson being on a more expensive contract. That return of two first-round picks, three Day 2 selections, and a QB (Drew Lock in this case) in return could suffice. The question surrounding this possible deal is whether Russell Wilson wants to play for a first-year head coach and first-year offensive coordinator or not. The Broncos have an exceptionally young and fresh staff.
After exploring options through the trade market, the next potential solution is finding a future QB via free agency.
In 2022, teams are at a major advantage in the free agent market because several previous top 10 picks with major upside are currently available, particularly former Bears QB Mitch Trubisky.
Trubisky had his ups and downs in Chicago, but he flashed great potential with his legs and good accuracy on short-to-intermediate routes. Trubisky has had the 15th-best passer rating of QBs since 2017 in passes behind the LOS or within 9 yards (min 500 dropbacks). Likewise, in the same range, Trubisky has the 10th most yards per carry of any QB (min 100 rush attempts). This past season, Trubisky sat behind Josh Allen and worked with Brian Daboll and Sean McDermott in Buffalo. The opportunity to learn alongside a QB such as Allen and from two great, QB-friendly coaches is second to none. Daboll and former QB Coach-turned-Offensive Coordinator Ken Dorsey have both helped Allen improve his accuracy and mechanics in Buffalo while allowing his athletic nature to shine in his play style.
Along with Trubisky, the other former top-five pick that will now be on the market is Jameis Winston. Coming off of a season-ending injury with the New Orleans Saints and is looking to prove he can still play at a high level.
For teams unable to find a future starter in the trade market or free agency, there is always the Draft.
When it comes to QBs in the 2022 NFL Draft, expecting to start any of them right away is a relatively murky proposition. There is not the high-level talent of previous drafts, and certainly not a consensus No. 1 pick. Some lack upside, and some need refinement.
That being said, there will be six QBs mocked across the first round as the days get closer to the Draft: Kenny Pickett, Malik Willis, Sam Howell, Carson Strong, Desmond Ridder and Matt Corral.
Teams must come to a consensus on which route of team improvement they will rely upon to find their starting QB. Will they try to spend a plethora of resources to get a proven quarterback, sign a QB with high-upside that has an up and down past success, or dive headfirst into the murky waters that are the quarterbacks in the 2022 draft?