DECYFR’D: The NFL’s Quarterback Carousel

DECYFR’D: The NFL’s Quarterback Carousel

Just as it does every year, the NFL’s quarterback carousel continues to spin ahead of the 2023 season.

As the most important position in the game, quarterbacks’ movement is heavily monitored, as the smallest upgrade, or downgrade, at signal caller can drastically impact whether a team makes the playoffs – or starts planning for the draft early.

Apart from the sides with rosters that boast a franchise quarterback, teams will almost always feel they can improve their field general. So they take a chance on players who’ve been riding on the proverbial merry-go-round – the quarterback carousel.

The ‘quarterback carousel’ is just another name for the movement quarterbacks make between teams, as the players rotate, and transfer from franchise to franchise. For example, last season, in an attempt to address their struggles at quarterback, the Indianapolis Colts traded for former MVP Matt Ryan from the Atlanta Falcons to replace Carson Wentz. Wentz was moved to the Washington Commanders, as they too, were looking for a change at quarterback, after fielding a mixture of Taylor Heinicke and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

And of course, quarterbacks are still moving from team to team this year.

The New Orleans Saints recently signed Derek Carr – who was released by the Las Vegas Raiders a month earlier – on a four-year deal worth up to $150 million. To replace the four-time Pro Bowler, the Raiders signed Jimmy Garoppolo on a three-year contract.

Garappolo moved from the San Francisco 49ers, who may be forced to start new signing Sam Darnold at quarterback in Week 1, due to an injury to Brock Purdy and reportedly fielding trade calls for Trey Lance.

The carousel really only stops spinning when a new name steps aboard, or when someone gets off for good.

Darnold came from the Carolina Panthers, who will more than likely start the 2023 NFL Draft’s first overall pick, Bryce Young, at quarterback to begin the year. The Panthers moved on from another quarterback midway through last season, releasing Baker Mayfield after Week 13. Mayfield, who had a short stint with the Los Angeles Rams, signed a one-year, $8.5 million contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers following Tom Brady’s decision to finally call time on his NFL career, after Tampa Bay’s defeat to the Dallas Cowboys in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs.

Quarterbacks that could’ve jumped aboard the carousel, but didn’t, include the Seattle Seahawks’ Geno Smith, the New York Giants’ Daniel Jones, and the Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson, as they all signed long-term deals this offseason. However, even if some are staying put, other signal callers could still be on the move.

The Tenessee Titans drafted Will Levis 33rd overall in the recent NFL Draft, so veteran Ryan Tannehill may have to find a new team if Levis performs in training camp. Trade rumours have swirled around New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones all through the offseason. Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford has also been the subject of a potential trade – even if the Rams’ GM has since confirmed the franchise’s commitment to the 35-year-old, and the $160 million contract extension he signed last offseason.

Despite some quarterbacks’ decisions to step off the carousel already, or never even get on it in the first place, it may still continue to spin. Coaches can seemingly always talk themselves into a new name under center and unwanted signal callers will always seek a new challenge.

All they have to do is ensure they find the perfect match before the carousel slows to a stop.

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