The NFL offseason wants to match the insanity the NBA offseason brings, and free agency has been a great start. Trade rumors are hot and heavy among NFL quarterbacks. The QB carousel is upon us, and Deshaun Watson, Baker Mayfield, and Jimmy Garoppolo appear to all be on the move.
NFL Trade Rumors: Where could Deshaun Watson, Baker Mayfield, and Jimmy Garoppolo end up in 2022?
For the longest time, quarterbacks rarely left their first team if they found success. Teams didn’t want to restart with a new signal-caller. Only the older quarterbacks changed teams late in their career as the original franchise was ready to move on and start over.
Tom Brady moved from New England to Tampa Bay, but the man was over 40 at the time. The true genesis of the early QB movement is Matthew Stafford. Now, it appears more quarterbacks are on the market during NFL’s free agency period.
Watson’s situation is obviously unique — although he won’t be charged criminally, his legal situation is far from over. But teams have done their homework and feel comfortable enough to risk significant draft capital to acquire him.
We know the players, now let’s get into the game. Atlanta, Carolina, Cleveland, and New Orleans seem to be the targets. Where will he end up?
Atlanta seems insane, but he’s a local kid, so the desire on his part would be understandable. But their cap situation with Matt Ryan is a disaster. However, a one- or two-year cap issue is nothing to pay for arguably a top-five quarterback to be around for the next 10-15 years. The trade rumors to Atlanta materialized quickly.
Cleveland probably has the longest odds. Since the beginning of Watson’s trade demands, every other team he’s expressed interest in plays in the South. Cleveland is an outdoor, cold-weather area. It only makes sense if he wants to go to the team most ready to compete for a Super Bowl. The Browns don’t need to do much in free agency because their roster is already solid. We’ll see how much that matters.
Carolina makes a little sense. Watson is used to having a non-existent offensive line. The Panthers have a young and talented defense, and DJ Moore is a solid weapon. David Tepper is also an incredibly aggressive owner, and Carolina has been a part of Watson’s trade rumors since the start.
New Orleans feels like the favorite. It’s the southernmost spot, and Saints players have been actively trying to recruit. Terron Armstead has put his free agency on pause to wait for a decision from Watson.
This is the most difficult one. Trying to sift through the league to see who would want a one-year rental that’s coming off a severe shoulder surgery that destroyed his mechanics as he played through it seems like a long shot.
The Browns spent the first overall pick on Mayfield. They won’t get anything close to that in return given his current form. With Jameis Winston still available in free agency, I’m not sure why teams would trade assets for Mayfield instead of signing Winston. His trade rumors heated up when reports began circulating that they could move him whether Cleveland gets Watson or not.
If the Panthers swing and miss on Watson, Tepper could pull the trigger on the former top overall pick. They took a shot on Sam Darnold when he flamed out in New York. Mayfield has flashed brighter in Cleveland than Darnold ever did in New York.
If the Lions don’t want to go through yet another season with Jared Goff as their quarterback, they could take a shot on Mayfield during this NFL free agency period. Another season of Goff could sour the fan base. He’s a stop-gap quarterback, and he’s a boring and low-ceiling one at that. However, Detroit is swiftly improving their roster, and Dan Campbell should at least enjoy Mayfield’s toughness.
On the premiere episode of PFN Draft Insiders (which can be found every Tuesday at 8 PM ET on the PFN YouTube Channel), PFN Chief NFL Analyst Trey Wingo asked Pauline about the latest he was hearing around the Browns. Pauline reported that if Mayfield had his choice of trade destination, the Indianapolis Colts would be his ideal landing spot.
Speaking of the Colts, this one almost feels too easy. Once Indianapolis traded Carson Wentz, the NFL trade rumors for Garoppolo to Indianapolis began. Garoppolo could move from one run-heavy offense to another in Indianapolis.
Additionally, the Colts have years of experience shielding quarterbacks from their own weaknesses. Garoppolo can work through the middle of the field with Michael Pittman Jr. and use Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines as outlets underneath.