The quarterback shuffle this offseason has been wild, but it’s really an extension of the past three years. Player turnover happens all the time, but it’s never quite been like this at the QB position. Lost amongst the Russell Wilson and Matt Ryan trades of 2022 is a wider shakeup that’s been happening around the NFL with playoff teams moving into “win-now” mode, while the rest of the league tries to rebuild.
If you need further proof these last three years have been surreal. During the span from 2009-2012 was considered one of the greatest QB upheavals at the time. A total of 15 teams found new quarterbacks as veterans like Kurt Warner, Marc Bulger, Donovan McNabb, Brett Favre and numerous more retired.
In that same gap from 2019-22: 22 teams have new QBs. Only 10 passers who started for their teams in 2019 will be still starting for them in 2022. It gets weirder, because while a total of 22 QBs are on new teams, 21 of these players are still starters in the NFL. This is not like a decade ago when players retired, sure, some have hung it up — but this is about the same group of quarterbacks rotating around the league and finding new homes.
With all this upheaval it’s fun to look back and see where everyone went — so buckle up.
Starting QBs: 2019 and 2022
|Team||2019 starter||2022 starter|
|Team||2019 starter||2022 starter|
|Arizona Cardinals||Kyler Murray||Kyler Murray|
|Atlanta Falcons||Matt Ryan||Marcus Mariota|
|Baltimore Ravens||Lamar Jackson||Lamar Jackson|
|Buffalo Bills||Josh Allen||Josh Allen|
|Carolina Panthers||Kyle Allen||Sam Darnold|
|Chicago Bears||Mitch Trubisky||Justin Fields|
|Cincinnati Bengals||Andy Dalton||Joe Burrow|
|Cleveland Browns||Baker Mayfield||Deshaun Watson|
|Dallas Cowboys||Dak Prescott||Dak Prescott|
|Denver Broncos||Joe Flacco||Russell Wilson|
|Detroit Lions||Matthew Stafford||Jared Goff|
|Green Bay Packers||Aaron Rodgers||Aaron Rodgers|
|Houston Texans||Deshaun Watson||Davis Mills|
|Indianapolis Colts||Jacoby Brissett||Matt Ryan|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||Gardner Minshew||Trevor Lawrence|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Patrick Mahomes||Patrick Mahomes|
|Las Vegas Raiders||Derek Carr||Derek Carr|
|Los Angeles Chargers||Philip Rivers||Justin Herbert|
|Los Angeles Rams||Jared Goff||Matthew Stafford|
|Miami Dolphins||Ryan Fitzpatrick||Tua Tagovailoa|
|Minnesota Vikings||Kirk Cousins||Kirk Cousins|
|New England Patriots||Tom Brady||Mac Jones|
|New Orleans Saints||Drew Brees||Jameis Winston|
|New York Giants||Daniel Jones||Daniel Jones|
|New York Jets||Sam Darnold||Zach Wilson|
|Philadelphia Eagles||Carson Wentz||Jalen Hurts|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||Ben Roethlisberger||Mitch Trubisky|
|San Francisco 49ers||Jimmy Garoppolo||Jimmy Garoppolo/ Trey Lance|
|Seattle Seahawks||Russell Wilson||Drew Lock|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Jameis Winston||Tom Brady|
|Tennessee Titans||Ryan Tannehill||Ryan Tannehill|
|Washington Commanders||Case Keenum||Carson Wentz|
Only three players who were starters in 2019 are completely out of the league, all due to retirement, all Hall of Fame-caliber players in Drew Brees, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger. Essentially someone, somewhere in the NFL believed that every other player on this list had enough talent to warrant a contract. Hell, the Jets re-signed Joe Flacco as recently as five days ago.
So, what does all this QB movement tell us? Firstly, teams have been very risk-averse in their approach to the position. Rather than trying anything new, or playing mid-round draft picks to see if they have talent, teams have had a propensity to recycle failed players from other organizations.
Secondly, the crop of quarterbacks coming out recently have not been good. Of the QBs on the 2019 starting list who were drafted in the five years prior, only Kyler Murray, Lamar Jackson, Derek Carr, Patrick Mahomes, Dak Prescott and Daniel Jones find themselves still playing for the team that drafted them. In total eight drafted quarterbacks started on 2019 teams and are now on new organizations. This is a hit rate of under 50 percent, and that’s not good — especially when we’re talking about such a short time span.
Finally, the NFL has mostly been stagnant over the time. The worst teams have remained bad, and the best have been perennially good. This has stacked the draft in such a way that QB needy teams selected players, and are still developing them — while the better organizations have established passers.
However, this is a bridge year. The 2023 draft is stacked at quarterback, and everyone knows it. That’s why we’re seeing so many retread players right now. Organizations around the league are punting on the season, realizing they can’t content with the established “win-now” franchises, and are pinning their hopes on the future.
Regardless of the reason we have seen incredible turnover at quarterback, and that’s still going to get weirder when the next round of obvious retirements happen, while other teams realize their development projects aren’t paying off. What a time to be alive.