Predicting the NFL’s starting quarterbacks in 2023

Is Jalen Hurts the long-term starter for the Eagles? What about Tua Tagovailoa in Miami and Derek Carr in Las Vegas? We predict the NFL's 2023 starting quarterbacks.

We know there will be changes under center heading into next season, so we’re going to attempt to predict the NFL’s 2023 starting quarterbacks. While there’s unlikely to be a Matthew Stafford or Russell Wilson-type talent traded next offseason, the 2023 NFL Draft crop of signal-callers offers more promise than the 2022 class. Here’s how we see the league’s quarterbacks shaking out next year.

Predicting the 2023 starting NFL quarterbacks: The holdovers

In 2022, we’ll have nine quarterbacks starting in new places in Week 1. By happenstance, we’re projecting the same amount of turnover to occur between now and the start of the 2023 campaign. Here are the starting quarterbacks likely to remain in place next season.

Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray

Let’s start off with an easy one. The Cardinals gave Murray a five-year, $230.5 million extension earlier this year, and he’s locked in as their starting quarterback for seasons to come. While it remains to be seen if head coach Kliff Kingsbury and general manager Steve Keim can turn Arizona into a perennial contender, Murray will be under center no matter who is calling the shots in the desert.

Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson

Jackson is set to reach the free agent market next spring, but he’s incredibly unlikely to leave Baltimore. Could the Ravens theoretically trade him for a massive package and turn things over to Tyler Huntley? Sure, but they’re far more likely to assign Jackson the franchise tag if they can’t agree to a contract extension. Baltimore has spent years crafting their offense around Lamar — they’re not about to hop off the train now.

Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen

Allen is the betting favorite to win the MVP, and he’s under contract in Buffalo through 2028. As Kyle Shanahan famously explained to the world in April 2021, there are no guarantees in life. But Allen is about as sure as they come.

Carolina Panthers: Baker Mayfield

While Mayfield probably isn’t going to suddenly turn into an All-Pro with the Panthers, let’s not underestimate how much of an improvement he represents over Sam Darnold. Since 2018, when both quarterbacks entered the NFL, Darnold ranks 47th of 49 qualifying quarterbacks in adjusted net yards per pass attempt (ANY/A), the passing metric most correlated with winning. Mayfield, meanwhile, is 31st.

There’s a chance everything blows up in Carolina, Matt Rhule and the front office gets fired, and the club goes in a totally different direction under center. But if the Panthers get to eight wins — and maybe sneak into a Wild Card spot — Mayfield could be back on a short-term deal.

Chicago Bears: Justin Fields

Fields should (hopefully) post better statistical results in his second NFL season, and the Bears’ new regime should be taking the long view with their former first-round quarterback. General managers and head coaches like to bring in their own QBs, and if Fields totally bombs, no one will fault Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus for moving on. But given the dearth of talent on Chicago’s offensive depth chart, Fields should get a long leash.

Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow

After leading the NFL in completion percentage and finishing behind only Aaron Rodgers in ANY/A and passer rating, Burrow is on a path towards an MVP award. The only long-term question — can the Bengals afford to keep Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, and Tee Higgins?

Cleveland Browns: Deshaun Watson

The Browns gave up three first-round picks for Watson before extending him on a fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract. Barring any more undisclosed sexual misconduct allegations against Watson, there are no outs for Cleveland in this deal.

Dallas Cowboys: Dak Prescott

If things don’t go well in Dallas this season, there might be a lot of changes heading into 2023. Mike McCarthy could be out, and Sean Payton or another high-profile head coach could be in. Prescott, signed through 2024 with cap charges of around $50 million in the final two seasons of his contract, will be the constant.

Denver Broncos: Russell Wilson

After stumbling around in the quarterback wilderness for years following Peyton Manning’s retirement, the Broncos finally have another franchise QB. Denver made Wilson the league’s second-highest-paid passer on Thursday, and he’s now under contract through his age-40 season in 2028.

Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers

Rodgers will be the Packers’ starting quarterback for as long as he wants to be, and the back-to-back MVP winner has made it clear that he’ll retire in Green Bay. Could he hang up his cleats if the Packers win the Super Bowl next year? Possibly. If that happens, Green Bay would likely give former first-round pick Jordan Love at least one season as the starter.

Indianapolis Colts: Matt Ryan

After years of revolving doors at quarterback, have the Colts found a multi-year solution? Ryan is 37 years old, so it feels odd to be banking on him in 2023. But Indy would have to eat $18 million in dead money to release him next offseason. Provided Ryan doesn’t totally fall off the cliff next season, he should remain the Colts’ starter.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence

Lawrence didn’t play like a No. 1 overall pick in his rookie season, but it’s hard to fault him, given the incompetence of the Urban Meyer regime. Doug Pederson should offer a more stable coaching presence in Jacksonville, and it would be shocking if Lawrence doesn’t produce better results in 2022. Teams don’t give up on talents like Lawrence unless their hand is forced.

Kansas City Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes

Mahomes will continue to be the best quarterback in the league when he’s under center for the Chiefs in 2023. Next!

Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert

The same goes for Mahomes’ AFC West rival. Herbert should be the Chargers’ starting quarterback for the next decade.

Los Angeles Rams: Matthew Stafford

Stafford and Sean McVay were a match made in heaven, and the duo won the Super Bowl in their first season together. The Rams inked Stafford to a four-year, $160 million extension in March which should keep him in Los Angeles through the 2026 season.

Minnesota Vikings: Kirk Cousins

We’ve come to one of the more interesting quarterback situations in the league. First-year Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is openly aware that Cousins is not a Tier 1 quarterback. The one-year extension Cousins signed earlier this year is structured to allow Minnesota to trade him next offseason (albeit while absorbing $18 million in dead money).

Having said that, we think the Vikings could be pretty good in 2022. While they may not overtake the Packers in the NFC North, Minnesota has reloaded in a way that should keep them as contenders in a weak conference. If the Vikings make the playoffs, they’ll likely run things back in 2023, but they could target a quarterback early in next year’s draft.

New England Patriots: Mac Jones

Jones will probably never be an NFL superstar. He doesn’t have the physical talents required to become one of the league’s best quarterbacks. But his skill set is valuable enough to keep the Patriots in contention for years to come, especially if Bill Belichick doesn’t retire anytime soon. Given his inexpensive rookie contract, Jones only needs to produce like a league-average quarterback to maintain value.

New Orleans Saints: Jameis Winston

The Saints are in a similar position to the Vikings — talented enough to sneak into the postseason but still in need of a long-term franchise quarterback. New Orleans has already sacrificed so much future draft capital that they may not have an avenue to pursue a replacement for Winston.

We’ll have to see how he plays without Payton around, but Winston was effective enough before tearing his ACL in 2021 that he should stick around into 2023. The Saints could use a mid-round pick on a signal-caller in the draft and hope that selection works out better than Ian Book.

New York Jets: Zach Wilson

Wilson is already behind the eight-ball this season after undergoing knee surgery following a preseason injury. He’s expected to miss a few games to begin the year, but he’ll eventually return to a much-improved Jets roster.

General manager Joe Douglas doesn’t want to move on from the player he took second overall in 2021, but if Wilson falters, Douglas will have to at least consider finding another option. Wilson should show some signs of improvement this season, but the Jets might still think about adding some mild competition (Daniel Jones, anyone?).

Philadelphia Eagles: Jalen Hurts

This is arguably the most intriguing quarterback situation to watch in 2022. The Eagles have assembled one of the best rosters in football, and there’s no question this is a make-or-break season for Hurts. Philadelphia already has an extra first-round pick in next year’s draft, so they have the capital to move up and acquire another quarterback if need be.

We’re betting that won’t happen, though. Hurts was productive as a de facto rookie in 2021, and the Eagles have now given him A.J. Brown to work with. Philadelphia’s staff has shown they can get the best out of the club’s players, and we expect Hurts to ascend during the upcoming season.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Kenny Pickett

We don’t know if Pickett will be the Steelers’ starter in Week 1, but he’ll almost surely be their top quarterback to begin 2023. Even in Mitchell Trubisky opens this year as Pittsburgh’s starter, Pickett should see action by midseason. He’d have to be Josh Rosen-levels of bad for the Steelers to move on after one year.

San Francisco 49ers: Trey Lance

San Francisco’s decision to retain Jimmy Garoppolo gives us a little pause on Lance, but keeping Jimmy G was more of a reflection of market forces than anything else. Lance is still the guy for the 49ers, and he better be after the team gave up three first-round selections to draft him.

Given that he’s barely played football since 2019, Lance might have some growing pains as a passer. But Kyle Shanahan’s play-calling prowess and Lance’s skills as a runner should keep San Francisco’s offense on schedule.

Washington Commanders: Carson Wentz

Because he struggled down the stretch and was subsequently lambasted by owner Jim Irsay and nearly everyone else in the Colts’ organization, it’s easy to forget that Wentz was actually pretty good in 2022. He finished ninth in QBR and ranked in the top half of the league in touchdown percentage and ANY/A.

Wentz probably won’t ever get back to his MVP-level of play, but he could have success in a Commanders offense that wants to push the ball downfield — something they couldn’t do with weak-armed Taylor Heinicke under center last season. Washington could try to acquire someone like Davis Mills from the Texans if they want a younger option to compete with or succeed Wentz.

Predicting the 2023 starting NFL quarterbacks: The rookies

Depending on how the Steelers’ quarterback situation wraps up, we may not see a rookie signal-caller start in Week 1. That almost certainly won’t be the case in 2023, when the crop of draft-eligible QBs is much stronger than it was in 2022.

Atlanta Falcons: C.J. Stroud

No matter how much you may like Desmond Ridder, the history of third-round quarterbacks isn’t great. Since 2011, Russell Wilson and Nick Foles have been the only third-round QBs to start at least 50 games. Career backups like Jacoby Brissett, Mike Glennon, and C.J. Beathard round out the rest of the list.

The Falcons will try to evaluate certain portions of their roster in 2023, but they know that A) they won’t compete this season, and B) they still need a franchise quarterback. Depending on where they land in the draft order, Atlanta should have its pick of signal-callers, and in this scenario, they go with Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud. Don’t be surprised if Arthur Smith’s success story Ryan Tannehill lands with the Falcons as Stroud’s mentor.

Detroit Lions: Will Levis

The Lions have done a wonderful job revamping their offensive line and skill position players, to the point where their roster is just waiting for a quarterback to drop into the mix. Jared Goff could show some improvement in his second season in Detroit — and could even have some trade value, as we’ll get to later — but the Lions need a long-term passer.

They’ll probably be competitive enough that they won’t be in range to select one of the draft’s top two quarterbacks, but Detroit should be able to find a signal-caller nonetheless. Will Levis’ size and arm should appeal to Dan Campbell and Co.

Houston Texans: Bryce Young

The Texans are the favorites to land the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 draft, and they should be able to get the best quarterback available. Alabama’s Bryce Young, the 2021 Heisman winner, doesn’t have the size of a prototypical quarterback, but he’s got everything else.

In his first season as a starter, Young threw for 4,872 yards, 47 touchdowns, and just seven interceptions while leading the Crimson Tide to a national championship appearance. He’d help the Texans move on from the Watson debacle, provided Mills doesn’t take a huge leap in his second NFL campaign.

New York Giants: Anthony Richardson

Anthony Richardson is an elite athlete who can reportedly run a 4.4 40-yard dash at 6-foot-4, 238 pounds. Sound like another quarterback that Brian Daboll may have coached in the very recent past?

Daniel Jones should look better under New York’s new coaching staff than he did under Pat Shurmur/Joe Judge/Jason Garrett, but new regimes want their own guys. The Giants should have another top-10 pick next year, putting them in a position to land Richardson or another rookie quarterback.

Predicting the 2023 starting NFL quarterbacks: New faces in new places

Here are the non-rookies we think will be starting fresh next season, including a few trade candidates.

Las Vegas Raiders: Jimmy Garoppolo

After acquiring Davante Adams to team with Darren Waller, Hunter Renfrow, and Josh Jacobs, the Raiders arguably have more offensive weaponry than any team but the Bengals. And Derek Carr remains an underrated quarterback who’s finished in the top half of the NFL in EPA/play in each of the last three seasons.

However, the three-year, $121.5 million “extension” Carr signed earlier this year doesn’t really lock him in place in Vegas. The Raiders can cut or release the 31-year-old next offseason while incurring just $5.625 million in dead money. Josh McDaniels hasn’t made any waves since taking over in Las Vegas, but he wasn’t afraid to trade away Jay Cutler the last time he had a head coaching job.

NFL coaches love familiarity, and McDaniels was part of the staff that drafted and developed Garoppolo in New England. Moving from Carr to Garoppolo might be a lateral move from the Raiders, but they could add a mid-round developmental quarterback for good measure.

Miami Dolphins: Derek Carr

The Raiders won’t sign Garoppolo without having traded Carr, and the Dolphins stand out as a destination for the Vegas starter. While Carr doesn’t have any experience in the Shanahan/Mike McDaniel scheme, he’s accurate and puts the ball where it needs to go. He’d likely have continued success in a Miami offensive system that will heavily rely on run-after-catch yardage.

Tua Tagovailoa could show enough improvement in 2022 that the Dolphins decide to keep him. Still, now that they’ve invested heavily in their offense by adding Tyreek Hill, Terron Armstead, and others, Miami might want a quarterback with a more successful track record.

After being docked a first-round pick for tampering with Tom Brady and Payton, the Dolphins won’t have the ammunition to secure an early first-round QB, so they’ll settle for Carr, who’s been steadily above average for years.

Seattle Seahawks: Tua Tagovailoa

Let’s complete the triangle: Garoppolo to the Raiders and Carr to the Dolphins leaves Tagovailoa in need of a new home. Let’s send him to Seattle, where Pete Carroll and Co. are curiously opting to rely on Geno Smith as their starting quarterback entering the season.

The Seahawks won’t be good this year, but they’re unlikely to be cellar-dwellers like the Falcons, Texans, or Bears, all of whom are in the midst of complete teardowns. Carroll is too competitive for that, and Seattle has enough pieces to keep them out of the top five picks in the 2023 draft.

Tua could present something of a bridge option with upside. If the Dolphins are willing to trade him next spring, he probably played poorly enough that he won’t command much of a pricetag. But he’s also young enough that he could start for at least one season while the Seahawks continue building up the rest of their roster.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jared Goff

We’ve buried the lede a little here — Tom Brady retired! In our hypothetical scenario, Brady has decided to finally hang up his cleats and cash in on that sweet FOX Sports money. While we love the idea of Brady and Payton teaming up somewhere in 2023, Brady’s first retirement and reported family issues lead us to believe he’ll call it quits after the upcoming season.

How would the Bucs shape up without Brady? They’d still have excellent skill position players, and their offensive line should be better if center Ryan Jensen is back to full health by next season. Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich could land a head coaching job, but Tampa Bay probably wouldn’t change their offensive scheme. This would still be a team that could compete … with the right quarterback.

Unless Brady gets hurt, the Bucs won’t have the chance to land an early first-round quarterback, so they’d likely be searching for a veteran option. Goff is no one’s idea of a superstar, but he’s had NFL success and has the size and arm to fit in Tampa’s system.

Goff wouldn’t be very expensive, either. The Bucs would essentially get him on a one-year, $25.65 million deal with a de facto team option worth $26.65 million in 2024. Yet to turn 28 years old, Goff would part reclamation project, part bridge quarterback for Tampa Bay.

Tennessee Titans: Malik Willis

We’ll cheat a bit with our final quarterback, as Willis won’t be in a new place in 2023. But if Ryan Tannehill continues his downward trend next season, the Titans will likely give Willis a chance as their starter.

Tannehill finished top-five in EPA/play in each of his first two years in Tennessee, but he took a drastic drop last season, falling all the way to 13th. While he led the Titans to the AFC’s No. 1 seed in 2021, Tannehill is no spring chicken. He’ll be 35 years old when next season gets underway, and Tennessee planned for his eventual departure by drafting Willis in the third round earlier this year.

The Titans are in the middle of a quiet rebuild. They traded top wideout A.J. Brown to the Eagles, and they’ll be without one of their best defensive players after edge rusher Harold Landry tore his ACL this week. Tennessee is unlikely to bottom out and be in line to acquire a top rookie quarterback, and it probably doesn’t make sense for them to replace Tannehill with another veteran. Willis is a lottery ticket, and the Titans should start him for a year and see if they cash in.

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