The veteran quarterback carousel was every active last year. The 2023 offseason could be just as busy for movement at the NFL’s most important position.
For the first time since 2020, the GOAT himself, Tom Brady, looks like he will change teams. He could be joined with some top-flight younger company, led by 2019 MVP Lamar Jackson, unsigned so far by the Ravens.
Although some of these QBs are bound to return to their current teams with new short or long-term contracts, many will made available when the new league year starts, either via unrestricted free agency, trade or release.
Here’s looking at the 15 best quarterbacks not yet attached to a team in 2023:
Ranking top QBs available in NFL offseason
1. Tom Brady, Buccaneers (free agent), 45
Brady hit the peak early in Tampa Bay with a big first season in 2020 ending in victory in Super Bowl 55 on his home field. The 2021 campaign brought a division title before a divisional playoff exit.
Unfortunately, 2022 was a losing season at 8-9 with Brady struggling with limited help around him, foreshadowing a quick one-and-done at home vs. the Cowboys in the wild-card round. He needs to seek out the new ideal situation of supporting coaching and personnel to have a shot at his eighth Super Bowl ring at age 46.
Best new team fit: Raiders
2. Lamar Jackson, Ravens (free agent/trade), 26
The Ravens haven’t changed their stance too much with Jackson. They would like to agree on a reasonable multi-year deal with the right guaranteed money and other parameters.
The end of the season, however, with Jackson continuing to miss time with his knee injury without being signed through 2023, raises serious questions about a possible breakup. Now a franchise tag and trade scenario is in play. Stay tuned for how Baltimore handles this unique jam.
Best new team fit: Falcons
3. Daniel Jones, Giants (free agent), 25
Jones is enjoying a breakout season into the playoffs as a passer and runner under the ideal quarterback braintrust of coach Brian Daboll (formerly of Josh Allen) and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka (formerly with Patrick Mahomes). The Giants have built a good scheme around his arm and athleticism and can build on that by improving his receiving corps. He should also be retained without breaking the bank for top-market value. It would be shocking if after not picking up his fifth-year option, if the Giants let him walk now.
Best new team fit: Colts
4. Derek Carr, Raiders (trade/release), 31
Carr is done in Las Vegas after being benched for the final two games of the season for Jarrett Stidham. That suggests the Raiders will make a serious run at another Josh McDaniels QB from New England in Brady.
The Raiders will do their best to move Carr for decent return. They can save $29 million toward the cap by trading or releasing him, so it’s a good time to part ways.
Best new team fit: Commanders
5. Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers (free agent), 31
Garoppolo should be most on the radar of two AFC East teams that aren’t the Patriots. The Dolphins and Jets both have some QB depth concerns while operating a Kyle Shanahan-style San Francisco offense under Mike McDaniel and Mike LaFleur. Jimmy G also can’t be ruled out as a veteran contingency for Bill Belichick with Mac Jones in New England.
Best new team fit: Jets
6. Geno Smith, Seahawks (free agent), 32
Smith found the perfect team and system for him under Pete Carroll and Shane Waldron. He clicked well with their savvy wide receivers and worked well off the traditional running game with his own athleticism and experience. There’s every expectation he will be re-signed as he won’t cost Seattle a high-level deal.
Best new team fit: Rams
7. Jacoby Brissett, Browns (free agent), 30
Brissett played very well filling in for Deshaun Watson during the latter’s 11-game suspension. He was not the reason for Cleveland not staying in contention while Watson was out. — that would be the underachieving defense, especially vs. the run.
Brissett made good decisions, leaned well on the strong running game with Nick Chubb and developed his own good chemistry with key targets Amari Cooper, David Njoku and Donovan Peoples-Jones. He likely will settle for another high-end backup role vs. a forced starting job.
Best new team fit: Vikings
8. Carson Wentz, Commanders (release), 30
Wentz got one more starting shot after his late flameout with the Colts. He had some of the same sloppy turnover issues, often not playing within the system and forcing things. The major durability concerns also resurfaced and he couldn’t get his starting job back in Washington despite Taylor Heinicke and developmental rookie Sam Howell being the other options. Now Wentz will likely need to settle for a No. 2 gig to continue his career.
Best new team fit: Jaguars
9. Teddy Bridgewater, Dolphins (free agent), 30
Bridgewater came through well when needed filling-in for Tua Tagovailoa but he also proved shouldn’t be more than an experienced No. 2. Miami should move on and Bridgewater has the profile to fit well behind Watson replacing Brissett in Cleveland.
Best new team fit: Browns
10. Mike White, Jets (free agent), 27
White flashed a little for the Jets out of necessity given Zach Wilson flopping in Year 2 and Joe Flacco being limited near the end of this career. He needs to stay in the system elsewhere to have decent contingency value.
Best new team fit: Dolphins
11. Sam Darnold, Panthers (free agent), 25
Darnold sparked the Panthers a little in his second season as the starter, but he happened to be their best option once Matt Corral got hurt, Baker Mayfield struggled and P.J. Walker hit his low ceiling. He was an extended backup, however, and should go into that role to finish his career.
Best new team fit: Chargers
12. Andy Dalton, Saints (free agent), 35
The Panthers should be drafting a QB in the first round and right now he projects to be Kentucky’s pocket-passing Will Levis. With Darnold and Mayfield not under contract, they will need a willing veteran backup to help, and Dalton can bridge to Levis or another rookie.
Best new team fit: Panthers
13. Baker Mayfield, Rams (free agent), 27
Mayfield may have done enough with the Rams to stick as a backup and contingency for Matthew Stafford. But he also may want to explore No. 2 options on another team, and it doesn’t get better than operating behind Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City.
Best new team fit: Chiefs
14. Taylor Heinicke, Commanders (free agent), 29
Heinicke isn’t made to be a long-term starter, but his arm, moxie and athleticism suggests he can pivot back to being a reliable No. 2. Buffalo needs one with Case Keenum heading into free agency.
Best new team fit: Bills
15. Mason Rudolph, Steelers (free agent), 27
Rudolph couldn’t sniff any starting duty between Mitchell Trubisky and rookie first-round Kenny Pickett. There’s no point for him to stay in Pittsburgh without a real role. He should seek out Detroit to be the new backup to Jared Goff.
Best new team fit: Lions