Agent review: Carson Wentz and Tua Tagovailoa among 11 quarterbacks with something to prove in 2022
Offensive players, excluding quarterbacks, and defensive players to watch were the subject of articles last week. Now the attention turns to the smugglers.
Each season a different group of players face a crossroads or have something to prove for various reasons. The most common reasons are related to age, contract or salary cap issues, injury, performance, or off-field issues.
Eleven of those quarterbacks to watch in the 2022 season are below.
Wentz is on his third team in three seasons. His poor play last season, particularly in the regular season finale against the lowly Jaguars, when the Colts controlled their own playoff destiny but failed to secure a playoff berth, led to his departure. Getting rid of Wentz was a bit of a surprise considering the Colts gave up a 2021 third-round pick and a 2022 first-round pick for Wentz to be a one-year hire. Colts owner Jim Irsay called Wentz’s acquisition a mistake shortly after he was handed out to commanders in March for essentially third-round picks in 2022 and 2023. The 2023 selection becomes a second-round pick with Wentz taking at least 70% of Washington’s offensive snaps this season.
Wentz should be a big improvement over Taylor Heinicke, the starting quarterback last season who replaced an injured Ryan Fitzpatrick. Otherwise, Wentz won’t see the last two years of his contract worth just over $53.4 million and his days as a starting NFL quarterback will likely be over.
Mayfield became expendable after the Browns unexpectedly dropped 2022, 2023 and 2024 first-round picks, a 2022 fourth-round pick, a 2023 third-round pick and a 2024 fourth-round pick to the Texans for Deshaun Watson and a 2024 sixth round pick in March. The Browns retained Mayfield until mid-July before giving him to the Panthers for a conditional fifth-round pick in 2024, which becomes a fourth-round pick with him taking at least 70% of Carolina’s offensive snaps this season. . Mayfield took a slight pay cut from his fully guaranteed fifth-year option of $18.858 million to $15.358 million with $3.5 million in added incentives to facilitate the trade.
The 2018 first overall pick beat Sam Darnold, the 2018 third overall pick, for the starting quarterback position while learning Carolina’s offense on the fly. By showing that a disappointing 2021 was attributed to playing most of the season with a torn labrum in his left shoulder (without throwing), Mayfield should be a starting quarterback in 2023, whether with the Panthers or elsewhere.
A trade from the Rams for Matthew Stafford that brought Goff to the Lions paid immediate dividends in Los Angeles. The Rams won the Super Bowl last season, something they didn’t do in Goff’s five seasons with the team.
Goff had a rough start in Detroit but played his best football down the stretch as the Lions’ only three wins last season came in the four games he played in December and January. He completed 66.9% of his passes (91 of 136) for 965 yards with nine touchdowns and two interceptions to post a passer rating of 103.3 during those games. Goff may have to pick up where he left off last season to stay in Detroit long term as there is no more guaranteed money in his contract after this year. He still has two years left on his contract with $25.65 million and $26,650,064 in wages in 2023 and 2024.
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A dismal three-steal game in a playoff loss to the Bengals as the AFC’s No. 1 seed eclipses a strong 2021 season. Tannehill was the NFL’s 45th-highest scoring player in 2021, according to Pro FootballFocus. Seven quarterbacks (Josh Allen, Tom Brady, Joe Burrow, Kirk Cousins, Justin Herbert, Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford) ranked ahead of him. The AFC South is expected to be a two-team race between the Colts and Titans. Failure by Tannehill and/or the Titans could result in 2022 third-round pick Malik Willis becoming a quarterback next season. The 2023 season is the final year of the four-year, $118 million contract Tannehill signed in 2020. His $36.6 million cap is the sixth-largest in the NFL for 2023.
Winston beat Taysom Hill last preseason to replace a retired Drew Brees as Saints quarterback. He had drastically reduced the turnovers that had plagued him during his five years with the Buccaneers (2015-19) before suffering a season-ending left knee injury in a Week 8 victory over his former crew. Only three interceptions were thrown in Winston’s seven games last season.
Winston returned to the Saints on a two-year, $28 million contract with $21 million guaranteed. Incentives and salary escalations make the deal worth up to $39 million.
Winston will have much better wide receivers at his disposal than in 2021 as 2019 NFL Offensive Player of the Year Michael Thomas returns from an ankle injury that kept him out last season. The Saints traded to take Chris Olave with the 11th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft and Jarvis Landry agreed to a modest one-year, $3 million contract (worth up to $6 million). dollars through inducements) after the Browns released him.
Tagovailoa’s performance in 2022 will determine whether the Dolphins choose his fully guaranteed fifth-year option for 2024, which could be around $25 million. The Dolphins have given Tagovailoa, the fifth overall pick in 2020, tools to succeed. Five draft picks (2,022 first-, second-, and fourth-round picks as well as 2,023 fourth- and sixth-round picks) were given to the Chiefs to get wide receiver Tyreek Hill, the NFL’s most dangerous deep threat. The offensive line was improved in free agency by signing left tackle Terron Armstead and center Connor Williams. An offensive-minded head coach, Mike McDaniel, was hired to replace Brian Flores. McDaniel, a disciple of Kyle Shanahan, was the 49ers offensive coordinator last season.
Hill’s praise for Tagovailoa this offseason raised a few eyebrows. It remains to be seen if Tagovailoa can come close to Hill’s high expectations.
Hurts and the Eagles have been better than expected in 2021 in his first season as a full-time starter. The Eagles surprisingly reached the playoffs with a 9-8 record in what was supposed to be a rebuilding season. Hurts proved to be a dangerous double threat as he rushed for 784 yards with 10 touchdowns while completing 61.3% of his passes for 3,144 yards with 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Expectations are high for the Eagles and Hurts with an infusion of talent. Hurts got the No. 1 wide receiver that was missing in AJ Brown, who was acquired from the Titans for the 2022 first- and third-round picks in a draft-day trade. If Hurts doesn’t show improvement as a passer, the 2023 draft is heavy on the quarterback. The Eagles have the Saints’ 2023 first-round pick in addition to their own.
The new regime of head coach Brian Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen refused to collect Jones’ fully guaranteed $22.384 million for the fifth year for 2023. Daboll developed Josh Allen as the Bills’ offensive coordinator. If Daboll can’t convince Jones to start realizing the potential that made him the sixth overall pick in 2019, he’s destined to be a backup quarterback with another team next season.
Lance becoming a starting quarterback in 2022 seemed inevitable since the 49ers moved up to the third overall pick ahead of the 2021 draft to take him. San Francisco’s plan to trade Jimmy Garoppolo early in the offseason was scrapped because a playoff shoulder injury required surgery in March. The trade deal never materialized thanks to Garoppolo’s right shoulder injury.
Garoppolo surprisingly took a massive pay cut last week, going from the $25 million he was slated to earn this season to $7 million with an additional $5.65 million in incentives, to stay with the 49ers as a Lance’s replacement. Growing pains with Lance should come as no surprise given his inexperience. Lance has thrown just 389 passes since high school (318 in college and 71 as a rookie last season). The 49ers, who lost to the Rams in last season’s NFC Championship Game, have the league’s best quarterback in Garoppolo waiting in the wings if things go wrong with Lance.
Trubisky gets the first chance to replace Ben Roethlisberger, who retired after 18 years in Pittsburgh. He signed a two-year, $14.285 million contract worth up to $26.785 million through incentives. Trubisky backed up Josh Allen with the Bills in 2021 after starting 50 of the 51 games he played in his four seasons with the Bears. Since Kenny Pickett was picked 20th overall in this year’s draft, Trubisky has had a somewhat tenuous hold on the starting quarterback position.
Mariota has the chance to resurrect his career after spending the last two seasons with the Raiders in support of Derek Carr. The opportunity arose because Atlanta’s failed pursuit of Watson prompted Matt Ryan to seek a trade. Ryan was dealt to the Colts for a 2022 third-round pick.
Mariota reunites with Falcons head coach Arthur Smith, who was the Titans’ offensive coordinator in 2019 when he was benched in Game 6 of the season for Tannehill. The Falcons hedged their quarterback bets by drafting Desmond Ridder in the third round of this year’s draft. Mariota signed a two-year, $18.75 million contract. It’s probably only a one-year contract for $6.75 million, as $12 million is in 2023, including a $3 million bonus for the fifth day of the year from the league (March 21), unless Mariota is playing at a fairly high level.