The NFL's quarterback carousel has spun into high gear in early March with Aaron Rodgers' and Russell Wilson's sagas finally coming to a close and Carson Wentz getting traded in the second consecutive offseason.
The biggest dominoes have already fallen, but plenty of teams still need upgrades at quarterback. And with a thin quarterback class in the draft, free agency may be the easiest way to find a new starter or add a high-quality backup.
If this list looks similar to last season's free-agent quarterback rankings, that's because C.J. Beathard was the only signal-caller to land a multi-year deal last offseason. Although the names are largely the same, don't expect that to happen again: there are enough QB-needy teams who could be in the playoff hunt that there could be a surprising bidding war or two.
There could be a few interesting quarterbacks on the trade market. Jimmy Garoppolo could be on the move at some point, while Kirk Cousins and Matt Ryan may be available as their teams rebuild. Deshaun Watson is a sort of Sword of Damocles as his pending litigation overshadows his immense talents.
But while the trade market can be fluid, one thing is for sure: when free agency begins at the start of the new league year on March 16, these players will be drawing the most interest.
1. Jameis Winston
Winston has the best raw tools of any free-agent quarterback, and it's not particularly close. He's shown that in Tampa Bay when he led the league with 5,109 passing yards in 2019 (albeit with 88 picks over five seasons). But over the last two years in New Orleans, he's really toned things down, with 14 touchdowns to three interceptions before tearing his ACL and MCL while maintaining a yards-per-attempt figure (7.2) close to his average with the Bucs (7.7). How much of that is due to a change in system? Could undergoing LASIK surgery really make that big of a difference? He remains a risky proposition, but no quarterback has a higher upside in this group.
Possible Landing Spots: Carolina, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Seattle
Prediction: Winston will land a starting job and possibly a multi-year contract. The Bucs are in need of a high-upside quarterback, but a reunion with Bruce Arians seems unlikely at this point. Expect another playoff contender with cap space to take a chance, such as Indianapolis.
2. Teddy Bridgewater
Bridgewater has been completely serviceable since becoming a starting quarterback again in 2019. And that's amazing considering the knee injury he came back from. With three different teams, he's completed 68.0 percent of his passes on 7.3 yards per attempt with 42 touchdowns to 20 interceptions. He's probably not going to make another Pro Bowl (unless it's as an alternate or injury replacement), and he won't inspire a ton of faith if behind by multiple scores, but he's firmly a middle-of-the-road starter. And that's nothing to scoff at, especially since he doesn't turn 30 until November.
Possible Landing Spots: Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Tampa Bay
Prediction: As he showed in Denver, Bridgewater needs quite a bit of help to take a team to the postseason. And he may not get a better receiving corps than he had with the Broncos. But he could lift a team like Pittsburgh into playoff contention and perhaps be a good model for a quarterback prospect it drafts in the first few rounds.
3. Marcus Mariota
The former No. 2 overall pick fizzled out in Tennessee, and Ryan Tannehill's quick emergence in his stead shouldn't make teams feel any better. But Mariota had flashes in his backup role with the Raiders in his one extended playing time and doesn't turn 29 until late October. At his best, he's a dual-threat quarterback with unfulfilled potential. At his worst, he's injury-prone and inaccurate. Teams should be thrilled with him in a backup or part-time role.
Possible Landing Spots: Carolina, Indianapolis, New York Giants, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Tampa Bay
Prediction: A team won't be comfortable with Mariota as its starting quarterback, but perhaps they can pair him with a young prospect and hope one shines. Tampa Bay would be a strong fit as they potentially see what they have in Kyle Trask.
4. Mitchell Trubisky
Unfortunately, Trubisky may always be known as the quarterback who went ahead of Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. But he may have a second life in him after riding the bench in Buffalo if he lands in the right system. Cutting down on interceptions is a must, and Trubisky has consistently struggled throwing in the medium-to-deep range. It will take a special coaching staff to fix both issues, but he does have dual-threat potential.
Possible Landing Spots: Carolina, Indianapolis, New York Giants, Seattle, Tampa Bay
Prediction: The Giants would seemingly be a good fit with his former offensive coordinator Brian Daboll taking over as head coach, but Trubisky may want to sign with a team that has an open quarterback competition. Look at Carolina, Sam Darnold is not long for Charlotte — plus, Trubisky has played at Bank of America Stadium several times during his time with UNC.
5. Tyrod Taylor
Taylor was supposed to start each of the last two seasons but has had horrible injury luck. If you can consider a team doctor accidentally puncturing his lung an injury. Taylor isn't spectacular, but he's a respectable game-manager since he doesn't turn over the ball a lot. He'll be 33 by the time the season starts, so he's only a short-term answer if thrust into the starting lineup, but he also would make one of the best backups in the leauge.
Possible Landing Spots: Arizona, Carolina, Miami, New Orleans, New York Giants, Seattle
Prediction: Taylor seems destined to finish out his career making one-year stops with teams as he oversees young prospects. Seattle appears headed for a rebuild and should hope that whichever quarterback it drafts has a rookie season like Justin Herbert or even Davis Mills.
6. Cam Newton
To say that it's hard to know what to make of Newton at this point would be an understatement. Despite all his injuries, he's essentially been effective as ever on the ground, averaging 4.9 yards per rushing attempt with 20 first downs and five scores over eight games (five starts) last season. But he's just not the passer he once was. His 54.8 percent completion rate was only ahead of Mike Glennon, among QBs with at least 100 attempts last season. And his 9.9 yards per completion were a career low. We've all seen how great he can be, but Newton seems unlikely to sign as a starter at this point.
Possible Landing Spots: Buffalo, Miami, New Orleans, New York Giants, Seattle
Prediction: Newton would be a great fit as a situational runner. Buffalo already has perhaps the best running quarterback in the league — one built in Newton's very mold — but that would make him an excellent option should Allen get banged up for any period of time. Plus, seemingly half of Buffalo's roster and front office arrived via Carolina.
7. Jacoby Brissett
Pro Football Focus graded (76.3) Brissett as the 15th-best quarterback last year. He almost certainly won't play that well in 2022 — and he's graded far lower (62.4 and 59.2) in his two seasons as a starter — but Brissett still has the makings of a strong backup. He tends to take a lot of sacks but can keep a team treading water for a few games if needed.
Possible Landing Spots: Arizona, Cleveland, Kansas City, New York Giants, Seattle, Tampa Bay
Prediction: A team with an injury-prone quarterback would be smart to invest in Brissett, making Arizona a strong fit. Colt McCoy was admirable and always had Seattle's number when Kyler Murray was out, but that's not a sustainable long-term plan.
8. Andy Dalton
Dalton has filled the "respectable veteran" role the last two years on different teams, but his production fell off a cliff in 2021. Among the 33 quarterbacks last season with at least 200 attempts, his 3.8 percent interception rate was 32nd, and his 6.4 yards per attempt ranked 28th. Chicago had a leaky line and dreadful weapons, so his team wasn't doing him any favors, but he's firmly a backup at this point.
Possible Landing Spots: Buffalo, Jacksonville, Las Vegas, Miami, New York Giants
Prediction: Dalton should be able to stick around a few more years as a backup. The less he plays, the better, so a team that plans to stick with its young franchise quarterback, such as Jacksonville, would make sense.
9. Ryan Fitzpatrick
There's a real question of whether FitzMagic can continue after the brutal hip injury that ended his season after just six passes last season. But if he does stick around, he's one of the highest variance quarterbacks around. He led the NFL with 9.6 yards per attempt in 2018 and also had 33 interceptions in 32 games (27 starts) from 2018-20. And he's turning 40 in November.
Possible Landing Spots: Cleveland, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, New York Giants, New Orleans
Prediction: Assuming he doesn't move into broadcasting or coaching, Fitzpatrick likely will want to sign with a team that actually gives him a chance to play in his final season(s). The New York Giants could be a fit, especially since Daniel Jones has missed 11 games in his three NFL seasons.
10. Geno Smith
Smith actually grades out as the third-best QB in this free-agent class, per PFF, although that only came in four games. He minimized mistakes (just one interception, three turnover-worthy plays) but didn't air it out much (175.5 ypg). But factor in his January DUI, and his market should be more tempered than what his stats would normally indicate.
Possible Landing Spots: Buffalo, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Miami, Seattle, Tampa Bay
Prediction: Teams looking for a solid backup will be interested, and Kansas City could be a top suitor with Chase Daniel hitting free agency if Seattle doesn't opt to bring him back.
Honorable Mention (alphabetical order): Brandon Allen, Chase Daniel, Blaine Gabbert, Colt McCoy, Trevor Siemian