As we inch closer to the 2022 NFL Draft, let’s take a spin around the quarterback position to see which teams have the greatest need. Teams are always looking to beef up their passing stable but this year, there aren’t a ton of teams in desperate need of a starting quarterback.
Most units are set with a young player from last year, a veteran placeholder or they're one of the lucky few clubs with an elite answer. That also lines up with a rather weak 2022 draft class, putting the few “have not” teams in a bit of a bind.
The Falcons swung and missed on Deshaun Watson, leaving them to trade Matt Ryan and pick up the pieces. Part of that effort was signing Marcus Mariota to a stopgap deal. Atlanta’s roster is utterly bereft of high-end players and the quarterback position is chief among the leaky areas.
Whether they decide to get their guy now or wait it out for 2023 is the only question.
If there was a “screaming need” category, the Carolina Panthers would be in that crop. The decree from the top down that the answer last offseason was “Anyone but Teddy Bridgewater” netted them Sam Darnold. After his fourth-straight year of bottom-barrel play, the Panthers are now hellbent on replacing him.
The problem for Carolina is that they don’t have a pick until Round 4 after their sixth-overall selection. So unless a trade-down scenario emerges, they’re in a position to either commit a massive reach on a quarterback at six or trade even more future draft picks for a Jimmy Garoppolo/Baker Mayfield-type they will again need to replace in a year or two.
The David Tepper era of the Carolina Panthers franchise has been utterly miserable.
The Steelers are officially in the post-Ben Roethlisberger timeline and the right answer in this universe is not “We’re good with Mitchell Trubisky.”
They know it, too. The Steelers have spent time with just about every incoming rookie during the predraft process. Odds are they select their next franchise guy at or near the 20th-overall pick and let them sit behind a hopefully solid Trubisky on a placeholder contract.
The Seahawks can offer up whatever little flowery anecdotes they want about Drew Lock but no one is buying it. A camp battle between Lock and Geno Smith cannot possibly be how Seattle starts the post-Russell Wilson era. But things are so weird with that team right now that it just might be the world Seahawks fans must live through.
The Lions have a QB1 hovering somewhere just under the prime meridian of NFL starting quarterbacks. So it would stand to reason that Detroit might look to grab the passer of the future to sit behind Jared Goff this season. This is the right draft class to do that with.
The Texans are making sure Davis Mills has every opportunity to prove himself this season. Kyle Allen is the backup quarterback right now and he’s merely a “keep the train on the tracks” guy for a game or two at most. Houston certainly still has a quarterback need but Mills might surprise us all with a solid season.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints brought back Jameis Winston on a two-year deal for pretty decent money. Taysom Hill is officially moving out of the quarterback room to focus on playing tight end while Andy Dalton is in place to stabilize the No. 2 quarterback spot. That’s all fine but this team still needs a true answer for the franchise quarterback vacancy.
New York Giants
The Giants are content to let Brian Daboll work with Daniel Jones for a year and try to stabilize the erratic parts of his game in a less chaotic environment. We’ll see if it works. Tyrod Taylor is the consummate backup quarterback who is just on the fringes of an acceptable starting-caliber player. Odds are New York is looking for their franchise quarterback in next year’s draft, which gets them placed in this grouping.
Relax for a second, Titans fans.
Ryan Tannehill is absolutely an above-league-average starting option at quarterback. However, there is no stability or upside on the roster behind him at this point. The Titans can also get out of Tannehill’s $27-million base salary for next year if he derails them in the playoffs again.
Tennessee should consider adding a cheap rookie quarterback contract to the mix to, at the very least, give them someone to groom as a higher-ceiling backup than the Logan Woodside types of the world.
It’s pretty clear Washington blinked too soon this offseason by trading multiple Day 2 picks for Carson Wentz back in March. It doesn’t look great when guys of similar caliber like Jimmy Garoppolo and Baker Mayfield are still available at this stage of the offseason. Nevertheless, Wentz is better than what they’ve worked with recently and Taylor Heinicke is a fine backup. Washington might think they’re done at quarterback — but they shouldn’t.
Fine but could add a body or two
The Colts are headed down Stopgap Road for yet another season with Matt Ryan now at the top of the depth chart. Indy is hoping this one lasts at least a couple of years. There’s a chance Chris Ballard and co. could look for a developmental guy to learn behind Ryan, but that’s it.
Los Angeles Rams
The Matthew Stafford trade was a resounding success for the Super Bowl champs. He was rewarded with a contract extension this offseason. Sean McVay seems to regard John Wolford as something of a pet project but it’s worth wondering if the Rams would want to leave him the backup gig for this loaded roster completely uncontested.
On paper, the Dolphins have a young quarterback they want to succeed in Tua Tagovailoa and a high-end backup/low-end starter in Teddy Bridgewater. That’s a good place to be and they probably do nothing at quarterback. It’s just worth wondering if Mike McDaniel brings in some kind of project guy to stash on the roster.
By all accounts, the Eagles seem ready to give Jalen Hurts another year as the starter and kick the can on pursuing any upgrades until the next offseason. Philadelphia also has a good backup in place in Gardner Minshew. We should just leave the door slightly cracked open for Howie Roseman to add another piece to his “quarterback factory,” even if it’s not with a premium pick.
San Francisco 49ers
Theoretically, the 49ers have a starting-caliber quarterback on the roster in Jimmy Garoppolo along with last year’s third overall pick, Trey Lance. However, everyone knows Garoppolo isn’t long for this team. When he’s moved, they could use some more depth in the quarterback room beyond Lance and Nate Sudfeld.
Little to no need
The decidedly weird tension between Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals continues but right now, he’s still entrenched as their starting quarterback. Colt McCoy is a serviceable backup who has kept the ship afloat during Murray’s injury absences.
Lamar Jackson might want to push off contract extension talks but he’s not going anywhere this year. With several key wide receiver pieces only getting better and more experienced, Jackson is primed for a bounce-back year. We learned last year that Tyler Huntley is a more than capable alternative when Jackson isn’t available.
We’re officially in megastar territory with Josh Allen. The Bills have everything in place to make a Super Bowl push this season. They upgraded the backup quarterback spot by trading for Case Keenum this offseason.
The Bears can’t be 100 percent sure that Justin Fields develops into a star at this point. And their current depth chart isn’t well set up to get him on the path to success in Year 2. Still, he’s their guy and they’re going to let him roll with the punches under a new staff. Their backup quarterback slots are weirdly in great shape with Trevor Siemian and Nick Foles.
Coming off a Super Bowl run, Joe Burrow is well prepared to enjoy another strong campaign in Year 3. Backup Brandon Allen isn’t a world-beater but he’s a lifer in this system and could keep the ship afloat for a game or two if Burrow got hurt.
The Browns are looking to unload Baker Mayfield and there’s a zero-percent chance he’s on this roster come Week 1 — regardless of Deshaun Watson’s possible suspension. Watson will give the Browns a Top-10 quarterback whenever he is available. Jacoby Brissett is a quality backup option when/if Watson isn’t available.
Backup Cooper Rush was solid in relief of Dak Prescott last year. The offense will look different without Amari Cooper this year but Prescott has developed into such a high-quality passer the Cowboys can feel good as the unit continues to evolve.
For the first time in years, the Broncos find themselves on the good end of a list like this following the Russell Wilson trade. Denver signed Josh Johnson who seems to never stick with teams but is functional just about everywhere he lands as a depth quarterback.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers have the consecutive MVP winner and a first-rounder from two years ago — hilariously two different humans — on the roster. With Aaron Rodgers and Jordan Love in the fold, quarterback should be the last place this team looks.
The Jaguars have to do everything in their power to make sure Trevor Lawrence ends up being a success story. Backup quarterback C.J. Beathard isn’t the worst No. 2 guy in the league.
Kansas City Chiefs
Throw your hot takes in the garbage: Patrick Mahomes is still the best quarterback in the NFL. Chad Henne is a reasonable backup who has been around this offense for several years now.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders just made a contractual commitment to Derek Carr. It feels like Carr has become a bit underrated in some circles as he played like a top-10 quarterback for large chunks of a chaotic 2021 season. Backup Nick Mullens has had his moments in the league.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers have one of the game’s best young quarterbacks in Justin Herbert and big-money backup quarterback legend Chase Daniel in place. They are set.
The Vikings re-upped with Kirk Cousins in the offseason, locking in his place as the starter for this team. The last regime tapped Kellen Mond as a Day 2 draft pick in 2021 but there are no guarantees this brain trust will be eager to develop him. Long-time quarterback Sean Mannion is likely the actual backup.
New England Patriots
Mac Jones was pretty far and away the best rookie quarterback last year. The team is trying to build a better offensive unit around him. Patriots lifer Brian Hoyer has a vice-grip on the backup quarterback gig.
New York Jets
There were more than a few lowlights in Zach Wilson’s rookie year but the Jets are determined to make it work with their No. 2 overall pick from last year. With some growth in the pass-catching corps and improved pass protection, Wilson is better set up to succeed in 2022. Backups Joe Flacco and Mike White had a startling amount of success running this offense in relief duty last year.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady is back for at least one more season. Yep, that’s good news for the Buccaneers. This leaves Blaine Gabbert and Kyle Trask on the back of the depth chart for this NFC contender.