Quarterback storylines dominate the NFL offseason headlines every single year.
Before we even made it to the 2023 offseason, the greatest player in the history of football retired, as Tom Brady opted to hang up his cleats after an unparalleled 23-year career. Brady’s departure means the Buccaneers will be among teams changing their primary starter from 2022 into 2023. But the list won’t end there. Numerous QBs are reaching free agency, the draft class offers a handful of passers who can step right into a starting role and a few wild-card situations could set off signal-caller dominoes.
So with that all in mind, let’s predict all 32 NFL teams’ primary starting quarterback going into the 2023 season, categorizing the teams into various buckets. Will Lamar Jackson and Aaron Rodgers be back with their current teams? Who will sign Derek Carr? And what are the projected landing spots for Bryce Young & Co. in the draft class? The easiest place to start is with the teams not expected to make any change.
ARI | ATL | BAL | BUF | CAR | CHI | CIN
CLE | DAL | DEN | DET | GB | HOU | IND
JAX | KC | LAC | LAR | LV | MIA | MIN
NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF
SEA | TB | TEN | WSH
Projected 2023 starter: Kyler Murray
It seems uncertain Murray will be ready for Week 1 after he tore his ACL in his right knee in December. But he’s the roster’s focal point, and new general manager Monti Ossenfort will work hard to build it around Murray, who threw 14 touchdown passes before the Week 14 injury last season. Colt McCoy is still under contract and could fill in early in the season if Murray isn’t ready, or the Cards could sign another backup in free agency.
Projected 2023 starter: Desmond Ridder
This was one of the hardest teams to forecast in this exercise, as Atlanta has the resources to go out and either spend on a quarterback in free agency or pick one at No. 8 overall in the draft. But the team likes some of the improvement from Ridder during his stint as the starter last season and can build on that this year. He threw two TD passes and zero interceptions over four starts after replacing Marcus Mariota in 2022.
Projected 2023 starter: Lamar Jackson
In a league where teams spend years and years seeking a franchise-altering player, it seems almost unfathomable that a team would move on from one who has already won a unanimous NFL MVP in his first five seasons. But there has been a disconnect between Baltimore and Jackson on contract talks that has him headed toward the franchise tag this offseason.
While the Ravens have persistently stated Jackson will be their quarterback, something about this pairing seems a bit off right now. My belief is Jackson will stay in Baltimore, but I am trepidatious about calling this a 100% certain.
Projected 2023 starter: Josh Allen
Well, this is an easy one. Allen will win an MVP one day — and it might be as soon as the 2023 season. His 71.4 Total QBR was second in the NFL in 2022, and he was able to beat teams with both his super strong arm and physical running style.
Projected 2023 starter: Justin Fields
The Bears are well-positioned to beef up the roster around Fields, who broke out last season. Not only did Fields rush for 1,143 yards and eight scores, but he also continued to develop as a passer, throwing 17 TD passes.
Projected 2023 starter: Joe Burrow
The only question surrounding Burrow this offseason is how much money he’ll earn on an extension. He has established himself as one of the top QBs in the NFL, leading the Bengals to at least the AFC Championship Game in back-to-back seasons.
Projected 2023 starter: Deshaun Watson
Watson didn’t really have any great games after returning from his 11-game suspension last season (after more than two dozen women accused him of sexual misconduct during massage sessions), but he’s entrenched as the Browns’ guy this year and beyond.
Projected 2023 starter: Dak Prescott
A right thumb injury contributed to uneven play from Prescott last season, but he’s a terrific player and will be the man in Dallas once again next season. Prescott threw 15 interceptions in 2022 but recently got a vote of confidence from Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones, who said, “I’ve got all the faith in the world we can win this thing with Dak.”
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Projected 2023 starter: Russell Wilson
New coach Sean Payton’s task is clear. He has to get Wilson back on track in 2023. The veteran passer ranked 27th out of 31 qualified quarterbacks in QBR at 37.0 last season, which was well below his previous career low of 57.1 in 2016.
Projected 2023 starter: Jared Goff
While Detroit has a draft opportunity to select a down-the-line starter — and still could — Goff was so good last season that he will likely be back as the No. 1 in 2023. His 61.1 QBR ranked fifth in the NFL. This team has legit playoff aspirations next season.
Projected 2023 starter: Aaron Rodgers
There is little doubt that a Rodgers trade could happen, but my gut says he stays in Green Bay. A potential Rodgers trade is tricky for myriad reasons. Green Bay believes it can win big right now and trading Rodgers takes away from that. There’s also the extension signed last offseason, which was done with the intent of him playing it out and will be prohibitive for an acquiring team from both a draft capital and cash standpoint.
Yes, the Packers have Jordan Love in the pipeline as a starting option if Rodgers were traded, but I think another year in Green Bay for the four-time MVP is where this winds up.
Projected 2023 starter: Trevor Lawrence
We saw glimpses of the stardom upside in 2022 after some monumental growth from his first season. Lawrence threw more picks (17) than touchdowns (12) as a rookie in 2021, but he had 25 touchdown passes and eight interceptions last season — and led the Jags to a playoff win.
Projected 2023 starter: Patrick Mahomes
He’s the best player on the planet fresh off his second MVP and Super Bowl championship. We don’t need to waste time explaining this one.
Projected 2023 starter: Justin Herbert
An offensive coordinator change could lead Herbert to his greatest heights yet. And if the rest of the offense is healthy next season, they can help him post big numbers.
Projected 2023 starter: Matthew Stafford
Stafford is one of several massively important Rams who will be back and healthy in 2023. He suffered a spinal cord contusion last season. Up to that point, he’d thrown two more TD passes (10) than interceptions (eight).
Projected 2023 starter: Tua Tagovailoa
A standout 2022 season from Tagovailoa was more than enough to prove he’s the guy for 2023 and beyond. He spent time in the concussion protocol last season but was among the best QBs in the NFL when he was on the field, finishing third in QBR (68.8).
Projected 2023 starter: Kirk Cousins
Cousins was solid last season, leading the Vikings to 13 wins. He could be an extension candidate this offseason.
Projected 2023 starter: Mac Jones
The Patriots hired Bill O’Brien as the offensive coordinator to get Jones back on track after a tough season. Jones was a rookie standout in 2021, but his 36.1 QBR in 2022 was better than just three other qualified quarterbacks.
Projected 2023 starter: Daniel Jones
My crystal ball leads me to think a franchise tag is the starting point in a Jones deal this offseason. Few QBs boosted their stock in 2022 like Jones. Not only did he finish seventh in QBR (60.8) and cut down on the turnovers that plagued him over his first few seasons, but he also rushed for 708 yards and seven TDs.
Projected 2023 starter: Jalen Hurts
Simply put, Hurts has proved he’s an elite quarterback and leader. He’s the face of the Eagles and due for a big extension after combining for 35 TDs (22 passing, 13 rushing) and leading them to the Super Bowl in 2022.
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Projected 2023 starter: Kenny Pickett
His play in clutch moments down the stretch offered a glimpse into the future, and the Steelers will look to continue building around the 2022 first-round pick.
Projected 2023 starter: Trey Lance/Brock Purdy
OK, I’m hedging a little on this one because the Niners have two possibilities with injury complications. With Purdy’s elbow still on the mend, could Lance fight for another shot to start? Lance is a tricky evaluation because he has played so little football over the past three years, it’s hard to state with complete authority what the 49ers have in him. Purdy might be the favorite here, but I’m calling it a tie at this point simply because I don’t know if his elbow will limit him at all during training camp.
Projected 2023 starter: Geno Smith
Smith appears set to return to Seattle, on either the franchise tag or an extension. He is coming off the best season of his career, throwing 30 TD passes and posting the NFL’s sixth-best QBR at 60.8.
Projected 2023 starter: Ryan Tannehill
Tannehill has been an effective starter, and Tennessee is now in a unique spot. It has already parted ways with multiple veterans in cap-purging moves, signaling a reboot could be in order, but how far does that go? Does it include moving on from Tannehill and running back Derrick Henry? While Jacksonville is trending up in the division, the Titans played in a win-and-in game in Week 18 last season and are a season removed from being the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Tannehill sticking around allows the team to retool rather than rebuild.
Turning to an incumbent already on the roster
Projected 2023 starter: Kyle Trask
The Bucs are pressed for cap space this year, so finding a veteran quarterback to replace Tom Brady won’t be easy. We’ve yet to see Trask — a second-round pick out of Florida in 2021 — play snaps of consequence for the Bucs, but the team has consistently spoken highly of his game.
Projected 2023 starter: Sam Howell
Coach Ron Rivera indicated during Super Bowl week that Howell was the team’s likely QB1 going into the offseason program after starting one game during his rookie season in 2022 (169 passing yards, one TD throw and one interception), and Washington just cut Carson Wentz. It wouldn’t be surprising if Howell is the Week 1 starter, but I do think the Commanders could take a swing on a draft prospect with upside, even if that player might not be ready to start as a rookie. That, of course, is a different way of saying that I’d love to see the team take Florida’s Anthony Richardson because his potential is immeasurable; he just needs some time to develop.
Playing the veteran QB roulette
Projected 2023 starter: Derek Carr
The Panthers have tried to figure out the quarterback position for multiple years now, but nothing has stuck since the first Cam Newton era in Carolina concluded after the 2019 season. Sam Darnold flashed at the end of last season but hasn’t been consistent over his career. Carr would represent the team’s most proven option since then and would immediately stabilize the signal-caller position under coach Frank Reich. Carr’s skill set is clear, and he’s the best free agent quarterback available this offseason. He also would make Carolina the immediate favorite in a wide-open NFC South.
Projected 2023 starter: Baker Mayfield
The Saints were the first known Carr suitor, hosting him on his lone visit before his release from Las Vegas. That visit was a strong enough indication of interest, but since a trade didn’t materialize, competition for Carr’s services comes into play. Though he has had plenty of rough stretches over his career, Mayfield showed well in a small sample size with the Rams late last season. He’s an imperfect player, but I truly believe quarterback context matters. When put in a system with capable coaching, competent playmakers and savvy game-planning, Mayfield can help you win. Jameis Winston is under contract, but he was replaced by Andy Dalton — who is now a free agent.
Projected 2023 starter: Jimmy Garoppolo
With no Rodgers trade and Carr projected to go to Carolina, the two veteran quarterbacks most linked to the Jets are off the board. But Garoppolo has his ties to this franchise as well, having started for the 49ers when Jets coach Robert Saleh and several other New York coaches were on that staff under Kyle Shanahan. Finding the right terms to bring in Garoppolo is a challenge, though. He’s coming off another significant injury (left foot), but he’s a major upgrade — Zach Wilson has struggled through two seasons and was benched in 2022 — and would provide substantial leadership.
Addressing the future through the 2023 draft
Projected 2023 starter: C.J. Stroud
The Texans have the resources to boost their roster this offseason, with no chip more valuable to play than the second overall selection in the upcoming draft. Davis Mills doesn’t appear to be the long-term answer, while Stroud finished his Ohio State career with arguably his best game ever and has an impressive skill set. His 88.9 QBR was second in the nation last season, and he threw 41 touchdown passes over 13 games.
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Projected 2023 starter: Bryce Young
We have a lot to figure out before we get to the 2023 draft, but Young shouldn’t have to wait long until he hears his name called. My suspicion is Indianapolis will have to move up the board from pick No. 4 to land him. But after trying a bunch of starting quarterback options in recent seasons — including Matt Ryan last year — the Colts need to do what it takes to find someone who can be their starter for the next 8-10 years. Young won the Heisman Trophy in 2021 and then threw 32 touchdown passes in 2022 despite a diminished Alabama supporting cast.
Projected 2023 starter: Will Levis
The Carr era is over, and Levis would provide coach Josh McDaniels the second chance in three years to develop a first-round quarterback — he worked with Mac Jones in New England in 2021. Levis had a tough final season at Kentucky, but his 2021 season was excellent. He displays plenty of quality traits to develop into a high-level starter in the NFL.