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Riding the 2023 NFL quarterback carousel

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott might be in the hotseat soon despite being one of the highest paid players in his position due to his inconsistent play. Photo courtesy of All-Pro Reels

The 2022-2023 NFL season was one full of ups and downs for fans across the league. The record-breaking season culminated in a historic Super Bowl where two Black quarterbacks faced off for the first time since the NFL’s inception.  

Not all quarterbacks are cut from the same cloth though. Some are possibly subjected to losing their starting position before training camp starts up in the late summer months. Others might lose their job in the preseason while some may fizzle out during the upcoming regular season. 

That being said, there will not be some quarterbacking purge in the league. Quarterbacks like Justin Herbert, Joe Burrow, Trevor Lawrence, Ryan Tannehill, Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts, Daniel Jones, Tua Tagovailoa, Kyler Murray, Jarred Goff and Justin Fields are all spared from the chopping block as they have put their teams in favorable positions in recent history and have also played well. Other quarterbacks that are locked in, not by play but by contract, are Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson and Matthew Stafford. 

Other teams are left in an interesting position where the quarterback position is left unclear. The New England Patriots, New York Jets, Las Vegas Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans, Washington Commanders, Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons all have a decision to make; cut or push forward. 

Of this bunch, the Steelers’ Kenney Pickett, Seahawks’ Geno Smith and Saints’ Andy Dalton are the safest. Pickett, along with a lot of defensive help, managed to keep Head Coach Mike Tomlin stay above .500 after a disastrous start to the season. Pickett was a top 20 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Smith helped Seattle clinch a Wild Card berth when no one expected the team to finish with a winning record. The case for Andy Dalton is tougher to argue but the franchise is in a difficult place financially and draft stock is not all too plentiful. Free agency might be an option for the team, but the Saints may not be willing to spend in the offseason. It is important to mention that Dalton led New Orleans to a road victory over the Eagles in week 17. 

New England, New York, Carolina, Indianapolis and Minnesota could all be looking to replace their subpar quarterbacks in the offseason. Patriots’ quarterback Mac Jones has struggled to fill the shoes Tom Brady left in New England. The Jets may have wasted a draft pick in Zach Wilson who has looked short of good. Indy may push Matt Ryan out as a new head coach may want to go in a different direction in that position.  

Minnesota is almost certain to make a change. Year after year, Kirk Cousins has disappointed Vikings fans in the playoffs. Even with a new head coach in Kevin O’Connell, the team struggled against the New York Giants during the Wild Card rounds. The Vikings drafts stock is not too high in a narrow QB class, so expect a move in the free agency. Carolina is also in an interesting position. The team made a commitment with Sam Darnold a few years back but have since walked away from the former New York Jet and brought in Baker Mayfield for some time before he was shipped off to the Los Angeles Rams.  

Unlike Minnesota, the Panthers actually have a decent pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young and Will Levis are all on the table for the Panthers. The Falcons are placed squarely in the draft to pick a quarterback given that Marcus Mariota was always going to be a placeholder until Atlanta could afford to find talent. For Washington, the carousel could not be any more confusing. Looking at the free agency market and the team’s position in the draft, the Commanders may have another year of competition between Carson Wentz, Taylor Heinicke and a third passer the coaching staff decides to bring in. 

The Raiders have moved on from Derek Carr midseason in favor of Jarrett Stidham. However, Stidham does not appear to be able to carry a team into the playoffs. The Ravens’ refusal to pay Lamar Jackson looks to be pushing him away from Baltimore. This may benefit a team like the Raiders who do not have a first round pick. Houston has the clearest and most obvious answer to their quarterback issues: the coveted first overall pick. The Texans have first dibs on every back in the draft, this should, by all accounts, be the team’s first franchise quarterback since Deshaun Watson. 

Now for the more interesting conversations revolve around some of the league’s most popular franchises. At the time of writing, it is unclear whether Packers’ quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, is set to return to Green Bay. Naturally, Jordan Love would be the answer for the Cheeseheads, but moments the inexperienced passer has had to display his talent fall flat. The Packers have a top 10 pick, but the uncertainty of Rodgers’ departure places a wrench in any draft plans for the Packers. 

San Fransisco has a problem, all be it a good problem to have. They have too many quarterbacks. Trey Lance, Jimmy Garoppolo and Brock Purdy all contributed to the team’s extraordinary season, but Garoppolo is becoming a free agent and Purdy is still young and injured. It is clear that as soon as he recovers, Trey Lance will be the 49ers starter come the fall, as too much was invested in the former first round pick to go with “Mr. Irrelevant” in the long term. 

Another departure from the NFL is Tom Brady. After 20 plus years in the league, Brady finally announced his retirement from the sport thus, leaving Tampa Bay without a clear answer at quarterback and without a high draft pick. There may be a few dark years for the Bucs before a clear answer at quarterback is made. 

Finally, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is one of the highest paid players at the position. Some argue that his production has not lived up to that $40 million price tag. This past year placed Prescott in a prime position to succeed, and at times, he produced staggering results. His best game was against the Tom Brady led Buccaneers in the Wild Card round. His worst game of the season followed the next week at San Fransisco where his offense struggled to put points on the board. This has been the story for Prescott his entire career; inconsistent play. With the change at offensive coordinator and play caller, the former fourth round draft pick seems to have bought himself at least a year before he is truly on the hotseat. 

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is the sports editor and may be reached at [email protected]: @rivasemmanuel2 on Instagram. 

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About the Contributor
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela, Contributor/Writer
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is a contributor for The Prospector. He is a senior majoring in multimedia journalism with minors in political science and Chicano studies. Emmanuel served as sports editor at The Prospector and as a writer with Minero Magazine. Now, Emmanuel is interning at El Paso Matters and is a contributor at The Prospector.
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Riding the 2023 NFL quarterback carousel