In What Should Be A Wild NFL QB Carousel This Offseason, Here Are The Best Landing Spots For The Biggest Stars
Figured it'd be a good time to do this now while we're all starving for NFL-related news, especially with Derek Carr able to sign anywhere at any minute and Aaron Rodgers in the middle of a darkness retreat as he ponders his future.
We'll build this thing from anticlimactic non-movers on the offseason quarterback carousel, progress to which teams I think could invest a high draft pick at the position, and then get to the juiciest prospective moves.
Enjoy this breakdown of the NFL QB carousel, and if I choose an awful fate for your team, take solace in the fact that none of this has happened yet.
Staying put: Lamar Jackson, Justin Fields, Geno Smith and Daniel Jones
Because I respect Lamar as a former MVP of the league and the Ravens so much as an organization, I think cooler heads prevail and they get a contract done. Maybe I'm predisposed have this train of thought as a Bengals guy. Just seems like an unconscionable move for Baltimore to move off Lamar given how stacked the defense is. Give him one or two more pass-catchers and a more QB-friendly scheme under new offensive coordinator Todd Monken and at least see what happens. OR don't! Please don't!!
As for Justin Fields, well, you heard it from the man himself on Pardon My Take:
I somewhat see the argument for moving off him, getting a decent haul in a trade and drafting a QB at No. 1 overall. Rumor has it that's not off the table.
On the other hand, maybe give JFF 3.0 (Johnny [Football] Manziel joke) a competent team to work with. Spend a healthy chunk of that $100 million-plus in cap space and try to rally around arguably the most dynamic runner of all-time at the quarterback position.
Regarding Geno Smith and Daniel Jones, well, they were both written off entering 2022, didn't write back, and did exceptionally well to lead their teams to the playoffs. They'll each have continuity in the same offensive system. Provide Geno with a passable defense and Danny Dimes with some weapons and both of them should keep cooking this next year.
Tentative NFL Draft destinations for top QB prospects (mock scenario):
- 1. Indianapolis Colts (via Bears) - Bryce Young, Alabama
- 2. Houston Texans - Will Levis, Kentucky
- 7. Tennessee Titans (via Raiders) - CJ Stroud, Ohio State
- 19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Anthony Richardson, Florida
A couple trades worked in here to knock off some QB-needy teams. Kind of a spoiler alert about where the Raiders are headed, eh? I personally wouldn't stake my job on trading up to draft Bryce Young first overall because of his size, but he seems to be emerging as the consensus top prospect. Let's see how the Combine and pre-draft buzz plays out. Some of the toolsier guys may leapfrog Young. Jim Irsay is already out in the wild gassing up Young, so maybe it's a foregone conclusion at this point.
I connected the dots on Will Levis to Houston pretty fast earlier today. Liam Coen was Levis' offensive coordinator at Kentucky in 2021 and ran a pro-style scheme with West Coast roots. Coen is from the Sean McVay coaching tree. So is new Texans play-caller Bobby Slowik, more or less (Kyle Shanahan). That seems like an ideal match unless Levis goes No. 1 and the Texans don't trade up to get him.
CJ Stroud's performance against Georgia in the College Football Playoff was masterful. The Titans may be able to grind another year out of their team as they're currently constructed. If I'm them, I reboot that fucker. Cut free-agent bust Bud Dupree and veteran QB Ryan Tannehill with post-June 1 designations to save $42.75 million against the 2023 salary cap. Restructure Kevin Byard, Harold Landry and Derrick Henry. Now you have over $48 million to spend in free agency before you move up from 11th overall to get Stroud at No. 7 in the draft.
Aaaand the NFC South. Tampa Bay needs to invest in a young, cheap, developmental QB like Richardson, who has the highest ceiling of any prospect in this class.
Acquiring a high-priced veteran isn't realistic for Tampa in the wake of Brady's retirement, or so it appears. Unfortunately, the Bucs are too far back in the draft to trade up without destroying their future.
The Saints and Falcons should tank for Caleb Williams/Drake Maye. I could see New Orleans drafting someone like Stanford's Tanner McKee or Tennessee's Hendon Hooker on Day 2, while Atlanta brings in, say, Gardner Minshew to compete with Desmond Ridder. BUT HEY, we have a spicy change for the lone other team in that atrocious division!
Best destinations for the QB carousel's biggest names
Derek Carr makes the Panthers NFC South favorites
I'm sure you've seen me defend Derek Carr more than should be necessary in this blogging space. He's a solid guy. Going to a West Coast system under Frank Reich with a solid o-line, and FOR ONCE, an excellent defense to complement him, would put Carr in an ideal scenario to thrive.
If you look at this move in a vacuum before the others I'm presenting, an argument could be made that Carr is easily the third-best QB in the NFC behind Jalen Hurts and Dak Prescott — and I'll hear takes that Derek is superior to Dak. At ninth overall in the draft, Carolina could opt to draft somebody, or move up to do so. They could do some real damage with someone who's ready to win now, coast to a division title and host a playoff game with Carr under center, though.
Jimmy Garoppolo reunites with Josh McDaniels in Las Vegas
Ah, the old Patriots pals. New England assistants and execs who get their shot at HC/GM gigs elsewhere are notorious for purging rosters and adapting their own version of the Belichickian Way. This is a very unique situation because Tom Brady was the common variable among all those teams. He's retired. So McDaniels should opt for the next-best thing in Jimmy G, who knows how to take marching orders and is a cool complement to the tightly-wound McDaniels.
Say what you want about Garoppolo. Dude has won a lot of games, played on the big stage a ton, and won't be as prohibitive of a cost as, say, Aaron Rodgers. The fit between Rodgers and McDaniels seems like an awful one. Huge personalities and egos. No familiarity on Rodgers' end with McDaniels' offense. Higher cost for a shorter runway. I can't see McDaniels staking his job on that partnership.
Ryan Tannehill takes command in Washington
Oh I know it's not the sexiest pickup, but think about it this way. The Commanders seem content to roll with Sam Howell as their QB1 at the moment. Whether they should or not is another matter. In the not-unrealistic scenario wherein Tannehill is released with a post-June 1 tag, Washington can get him on the open market at a bargain.
One thing the Commanders have in spades is skill position talent. Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel and Jahan Dotson are a formidable receiving trio. Antonio Gibson, Brian Robinson and J.D. McKissic offer a three-deep backfield. A savvy QB like Tannehill could also help tight end Logan Thomas wake up after a couple years of struggles.
Shore up the o-line just a little, and give Tannehill this type of supporting cast? It's more appetizing than most Commanders fans would think on first pass. I could obviously see Tannehill wanting to go to Atlanta if he's cut loose to reunite with Arthur Smith, but the Commanders are a more intriguing destination — especially if this happens:
Aaron Rodgers redeems Nathaniel Hackett on the Jets
Aaaaaand the biggest fish of them all! Post-darkness retreat, Rodgers emerges wide-eyed for the lights of Broadway. Imagine the utter media circus and fanfare around Rodgers donning that Gang Green uniform. Holy shit would that be awesome.
Pretty sure the Jets hired Hackett following his less-than-one-and-done tenure as Broncos head coach just on the off chance Rodgers might come their way. That's likely why Hackett got hired in Denver as is.
My assumption is New York hedges a big bet on Rodgers to a degree by re-signing Mike White to a modest multi-year deal as insurance. Plus, if Zach Wilson can develop into anything whatsoever, the Jets could have two cost-effective, young options behind Rodgers for whenever he retires.
Tried to keep this relatively succinct so if you have any questions, comments or concerns, do your worst in the comments section or hit me up on social to tell me how wrong I am.