NFL Franchise Quarterback Rankings, From Worst to First
The NFL is still a quarterbacks league. In the 2022 season, one quarterback continued to make his case as one of the greatest players in NFL history — Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes. Other teams will have entirely new quarterbacks in 2023.
It's no secret NFL franchises rise and fall depending on quarterback play. After the NFL Draft and the shakeout of free agency, we now have a clear picture of where all 32 franchises stand at quarterback headed into the 2023 season, from the very worst to the very best of what the league has to offer at the position.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Welcome to the Kyle Trask Era
There is no team in a worse quarterback situation headed into the 2023 season than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which went all in on aging quarterback Tom Brady for the last three seasons and got a Super Bowl victory out of it.
Brady pulled a pump fake on his retirement after the 2021 season, but he did it for real following a playoff loss to the Dallas Cowboys in early 2023. And it's not going to be pretty following his departure.
The Buccaneers fired offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and brought in Seattle Seahawks quarterbacks coach Dave Canales to replace him. Kyle Trask, the team's second-round pick in 2021, now has the runway cleared to become the team's starter.
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31. Atlanta Falcons: All in on Desmond Ridder
The Atlanta Falcons pulled the rug out from underneath quarterback Marcus Mariota after 13 games and sitting at a 5-8 record. Instead, they opted to see what they had in 2022 third-round pick Desmond Ridder, who went 2-2 as the starter and seemingly earned the right to be the man headed into the 2023 season.
If you're a Falcons fan, it's totally fine to be beside yourself that your team put all of its eggs in one basket instead of trying to sign Lamar Jackson away from the Baltimore Ravens. It's actually kind of unforgivable and seemed more like collusion among NFL owners than anything else.
30. Washington Commanders: New Offensive Coordinator, New Quarterback
The Washington Commanders seem ready to put their faith in second-year quarterback Sam Howell in 2023 after going 8-8-1 and barely missing the playoffs. They played the whole season without a viable option at quarterback, where Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinecke were their primary starters.
Howell started the final game of the 2022 regular season and led the team to an upset win over the Dallas Cowboys. It's worth pointing out that he was talked about as a potential No. 1 overall pick during most of his career at North Carolina but fell to the fifth round for some reason.
He'll also have a new offensive coordinator in Eric Bienemy, who was the OC for the Kansas City Chiefs on the way to two Super Bowl wins in the last three years.
29. Indianapolis Colts: Patience Is the Key Moving Forward
There was little to no doubt that the Indianapolis Colts would select a quarterback with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, and they delivered, selecting Florida's Anthony Richardson over Kentucky's Will Levis, with Levis making a historic dropout of the first round entirely.
The big question now is if the Colts will put Richardson on the field in 2023 after going 4-12-1 in 2022 with three different starters. The smart thinking would be to essentially give him a "redshirt" year to learn the offense and get used to playing in the NFL.
Either way, patience is going to be key.
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28. Houston Texans: Pinning Hopes on C.J. Stroud
The Houston Texans may be at a low point in franchise history, but the future is bright. Because of the Deshaun Watson trade to the Cleveland Browns, they have two first-round picks in 2023 and 2024 as well as an extra third-round pick in 2023 and extra fourth-round pick in 2024.
They used their No. 2 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft to take Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud. While Stroud might not have the highest upside of the three quarterbacks taken in the first round in 2023, he appears to be the one who is the readiest to step on an NFL field as a starter right now.
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27. Las Vegas Raiders: Reuniting Jimmy G and Josh McDaniels
The Las Vegas Raiders parted ways with longtime quarterback Derek Carr and have a franchise-sized hole to fill they've chosen to fill with free-agent quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who they signed to a three-year, $67.5 million contract that includes $34 million in guaranteed money.
The Raiders doubled down on Garoppolo when they decided to pass on taking a quarterback at No. 7 overall — they took Texas Tech defensive end Tyree Wilson.
The truth is no matter who the Raiders pick or sign in free agency, Josh McDaniels is still their head coach and was an assistant coach in New England when Garoppolo played there. That means you can pencil the Raiders in at last in the AFC West. After going 6-11 in his first year with the Raiders in 2022, McDaniels is now 17-28 in three seasons as an NFL head coach.
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26. Green Bay Packers: Into the Darkness
The Green Bay Packers parted ways with four-time NFL Most Valuable Player Aaron Rodgers, sending him and his $59.6 million per year salary to the New York Jets for a boatload of draft picks.
Now, Green Bay gets to start a franchise rebuild with 2020 first-round pick Jordan Love at quarterback, who is essentially an unknown commodity at this point. One thing the Packers stayed consistent with? Not helping their quarterback in the NFL Draft, spending their first-round pick in 2023 on Iowa defensive end Lukas Van Ness.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers: Better Than Expected Post-Big Ben
The Pittsburgh Steelers did much better than expected in their first season following the retirement of two-time Super Bowl winner Ben Roethlisberger, who was the starter for the previous 18 seasons.
The Steelers began the season with Mitch Trubisky as the starter but made the transition to rookie Kenny Pickett late in the season after they selected the former Pitt star in the first round of the 2022 NFL draft.
Pickett went 7-5 in 12 games as the starter for the Steelers in 2022 and showed the ability to win games with both his arm and his legs. But he will have to cut down on the turnovers after throwing nine interceptions against seven touchdowns.
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24. Carolina Panthers: Bryce Young Is the Future
The Carolina Panthers made a huge move by trading up for the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft to take Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, swapping places with the Chicago Bears, sending them the No. 9 overall pick in the 2023 draft, along with wide receiver D.J. Moore, a 2023 second-round pick, 2024 first-round pick and a 2024 second-round pick.
For the Panthers, life with Young now means keeping their young quarterback healthy — he's the smallest No. 1 overall pick at quarterback ever, at 5-foot-11 and (maybe?) 190 pounds. Young battled injuries in college, and he's not a sure thing. Not by a long shot.
23. New England Patriots: Make or Break Year for Mac Jones
The New England Patriots did little to help second-year quarterback Mac Jones in 2022, and the former Alabama star made the unusual decision to air his complaints publicly, which is very much in the face of the way head coach Bill Belichick does things.
The thing was, Jones isn't wrong. The decision to let offensive coordinator Matt Patricia run the show was a disaster and led to Jones being kind of benched at one point and having to endure the calls to have backup Bailey Zappe become the starter after winning both of the games he started while Jones was injured.
Here's hoping that with a new offensive coordinator in Bill O'Brien things will smooth out for the Patriots and for Jones, who is headed into a career-defining season in 2023, for better or worse.
22. Tennessee Titans: Like It or Not, Best Option Is Still Tannehill
There is a lot of buzz about the Tennessee Titans making a change at quarterback even though they've got a reliable player there right now in Ryan Tannehill, who led the team to the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs in 2021.
Tannehilll may have struggled in 2022 but with a recent high draft pick as his backup with Malik Willis, we don't think anybody is going anywhere in 2023. Now beyond that, time will tell.
21. Arizona Cardinals: Betting the House on Kyler Murray
Things started to go sideways for former No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals before the 2022 season even started. In the offseason, Murray signed an oddly structured five-year, $230.5 million contract with $160 million guaranteed, which included clauses that regulated his video-game playing and were later rescinded.
Things didn't get any better once the season started. Murray was having his worst season as a pro when he tore his ACL in Week 14, and his enmity toward head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who had championed Murray from the start, led to Kingsbury's firing. New head coach Jonathan Gannon has said he is fully invested in Murray as the franchise's future, although it's not certain when Murray will return from his injury.
The team hopes Murray is ready to go by Week 1. Now that Cardinals also have new offensive coordinator Drew Petzing (former Cleveland Browns quarterbacks coach) to go with Gannon, they have work to do to reconstruct Arizona's offense.
20. New Orleans Saints: Derek Carr Secures the Bag
The New Orleans Saints spent the last two years floundering in the NFL wilderness following the retirement of legendary quarterback Drew Brees, using a weird mix of Jameis Winston, Andy Dalton and Taysom Hill at the position.
Thankfully, they got some first-round picks back with the Denver Broncos hiring their former head coach, Sean Payton, who was still under contract with the Saints. Then they made a move on one of the top free-agent quarterbacks in the market by signing former Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr to a whopping four-year, $150 million contract.
Carr has spent his entire career on some pretty average teams with the Raiders and could change his legacy by turning the Saints into contenders. Either way, it's a huge upgrade at the position for the franchise.
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19. Cleveland Browns: One Franchise That Gives Us the Ick
The Cleveland Browns bet their entire future on a five-year, fully guaranteed $230 million contract for quarterback Deshaun Watson before the 2022 season, trading away seven draft picks to the Houston Texans for Watson, including first-round picks in 2022, 2023 and 2024.
It is already regarded as one of the worst personnel moves in NFL history because of the record amount of guaranteed money. Watson's contract has not only destroyed the quarterback market for other NFL teams moving forward but also turned off many of Cleveland's most ardent fans after signing a player accused of sexual assault and sexual harassment by over two dozen massage therapists.
The NFL suspended Watson for the first 11 games of the 2022 regular season, and he returned after over two years away from the game to go 3-3 in six games as Cleveland's starter.
18. Miami Dolphins: Concerns for Tua's Future
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa thrived under first-year head coach Mike McDaniel in 2022, throwing for 3,548 yards, 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions in just 13 games — not bad for a guy who had been essentially written off each of the previous two years.
The problem with Tua moving forward isn't his talent. The former Alabama star suffered two major concussions, and moving forward, you have to wonder about how his physical health, long term, might be impacted should he suffer similar trauma.
Which no one seems to be talking about right now, for some reason.
17. Denver Broncos: New Coach, Same Cringey Quarterback
Russell Wilson thanked the Denver Broncos for trading for him and giving him a five-year, $245 million contract extension by turning the 2022 season into one of the worst in franchise history — a 5-12 cringefest that ended with head coach Nathaniel Hackett fired after less than one season.
Help is on the way in the form of former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, who the Broncos hired in February 2023 at the cost of a 2023 first-round pick and 2024 second-round pick. One of Payton's first moves was to boot Wilson's personal quarterback coach, Jake Heaps, out of the team facility.
This is where we point out that Wilson, a former Super Bowl champion and nine-time Pro Bowler, was taking advice on how to play quarterback from someone who was beaten out for a starting spot at three different colleges and never played a game of pro football.
16. Chicago Bears: Protect Justin Fields at All Costs
Justin Fields showed why he has the potential to be an elite NFL quarterback in 2022, setting the single-season rushing record for quarterbacks with 1,143 yards and eight touchdowns while missing two games with injury. Fields has done his part to show he's worthy of being the future of the franchise, so it would be nice if the team surrounded him with some better players.
All that being said, the Bears still went an NFL-worst 3-14 and secured the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft. What they do with it at this point is anyone's guess, but if they keep it, they'll likely take Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter.
15. Detroit Lions: Is Jared Goff Actually Good Now?
To everyone's surprise, the Detroit Lions went 9-8 in 2022 and barely missed the playoffs with second-year coach Dan Campbell, and they did so with Jared Goff starting every game at quarterback.
Goff, the No. 1 overall pick by the Los Angeles Rams in the 2016 NFL draft, had a career-best year by throwing for 4,438 yards, 29 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also made the Pro Bowl for the third time in his career and first time since 2018.
The fact Goff is only 28 years old makes us think there's still some really good years ahead for both him and the Lions. Who would've guessed that?
14. Seattle Seahawks: So Much for a Rebuilding Year
Almost everyone wrote off the Seattle Seahawks as going into rebuilding mode after they traded quarterback Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos and handed the keys to the franchise to longtime backup Geno Smith before the 2022 season.
Smith made the most of the opportunity and showed he's a viable NFL starter by starting all 17 games and having a career year with 4,282 passing yards, 30 touchdowns and 11 interceptions along with 360 rushing yards.
The Seahawks made the NFC playoffs and have two first-round picks in the 2023 NFL draft, at No. 20 and No. 5 thanks to the trade from the Broncos.
13. San Francisco 49ers: One QB Controversy, Coming Right Up
No team successfully weathered more turmoil at quarterback than the San Francisco 49ers in 2022. Trey Lance, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft, began the season as the starter but was ruled out for the season after breaking his ankle in the second game. Jimmy Garoppolo took over and started the next 10 games before suffering a season-ending injury with a broken foot.
That's when Brock Purdy, the final pick in the 2022 NFL draft, took over. Purdy reeled off five consecutive regular-season wins and seven consecutive wins while leading the 49ers to the NFC championship game, where Purdy tore his ulnar ligament.
Purdy's injury will keep him out about six months. Lance is back and healthy. Let the debate begin on who the 49ers hand the keys to their franchise to.
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12. Los Angeles Rams: Super Bowl Letdown Hits Hard
The Los Angeles Rams broke the bank to win the Super Bowl two years ago, and the fallout from that hit home in 2022 as they went 5-12 in one of the worst follow-up seasons to a Super Bowl win of all time.
The biggest problem for the Rams came at the quarterback position, where Matthew Stafford went 3-6 in nine games before he was ruled out for the season after repeated concussions and a spinal cord contusion.
The Rams ended up starting four different players at quarterback, including Baker Mayfield for the final four games. But with a fully healed Stafford it's not hard to see them at least returning to the playoffs in 2023.
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11. Minnesota Vikings: Running in Place at QB?
In his 11th pro season, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins had the best NFL season of his career, going 13-4 as a starter while throwing for 4,547 yards, 25 touchdowns and a career-high 14 interceptions.
As good as Cousins played, the Vikings still lost to the New York Giants in the first round of the NFC playoffs, one year after advancing to the divisional round.
Cousins is 1-3 in the playoffs for his career. Has he hit his ceiling with the Vikings in his fifth year as the starter? He's not elite but he's not mid-level either. It's like being stuck in quarterback limbo.
10. Dallas Cowboys: The NFL Version of 'Groundhog Day'
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott has seemingly become the NFL's version of Bill Murray in the movie "Groundhog Day" — by repeating the same season over and over. In seven years as the starting quarterback for the Cowboys, Prescott is 2-4 in the playoffs and yet to make an NFC championship game.
One bigger problem for the Cowboys is that their $40 million-per-year quarterback seems to be showing signs of wear and tear. Prescott missed five games with an injury in 2022, led the NFL with 15 interceptions, and has missed 16 regular-season games with injuries in the last three seasons.
9. New York Giants: Please Accept Our Apologies
No quarterback in the NFL shut down the haters in 2022 better than New York Giants head coach Daniel Jones, who most had written off (including myself) before this season.
Jones thrived under new head coach Brian Daboll as the Giants bounced back from several miserable seasons with Jones at the helm and won a playoff game for the first time since they won the Super Bowl in 2011.
Jones was the big revelation of the year as he established himself as one of the NFL's top dual-threat quarterbacks — throwing for 3,205 yards, 15 touchdowns and five interceptions while rushing for 708 yards and seven touchdowns. With a healthy Saquon Barkley at running back and Jones showing continued improvement they've become a team to reckon with.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars: Make Room for Trevor Lawrence
No NFL rookie quarterback navigated more landmines as a rookie than Trevor Lawrence did in 2021 with Urban Meyer as his head coach. Meyer was fired halfway through the season in one of the all-time epic implosions in NFL history.
With new head coach Doug Pedersen, Lawrence thrived and led the Jaguars into the NFL playoffs for just the second time in the last 15 seasons. He also rallied them from a 27-point deficit to beat the Los Angeles Chargers in the AFC wild-card game and played the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs within one score of winning at Arrowhead Stadium.
7. Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson Drama Ends in Record Contract
Things went about as good as you can expect after Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, acting as his own agent, turned down a reported $250 million contract with $130 million guaranteed before the 2022 season.
Jackson proceeded to have arguably his worst season as an NFL starter. He missed five games with injury — he's missed nine over the last two seasons — as the Ravens made the playoffs but lost in the first round without their star.
Baltimore put a provisional franchise player tag on Jackson that would have paid him $32.6 million in 2023 and opened him up to offers from other teams in the league. None came in. — that we know of — and Jackson ended up signing a five-year contract for $250 million, with $185 million guaranteed, making him the highest-paid player in the NFL.
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6. New York Jets: Aaron Rodgers Breathes Life Into Franchise
The New York Jets bet their future on BYU quarterback Zach Wilson with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, and after two miserable seasons, the franchise realized its mistake and brought in four-time NFL Most Valuable Player Aaron Rodgers in a mega-trade with the Green Bay Packers.
Rodgers had a so-so season with the Packers in 2022 that was more defined by apathy than anything else — but beware of this all-time great, as he already appears rejuvenated to be with a new team.
5. Philadelphia Eagles: A Star is Born
Expectations in the NFL can be a heavy burden — one that most teams and their quarterbacks crack underneath if they haven't been there before. Philadelphia's Jalen Hurts showed us all, once again, that he's made of different stuff as he led the franchise to an NFC championship and set himself up to get majorly paid, signing a five-year, $255 million contract with $179.3 million guaranteed.
Hurts missed two games with an injury late in the season which kept him from making the NFL MVP race a real conversation between him and Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes. The gap between Hurts and the rest of the quarterbacks in the NFC is significant right now.
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4. Los Angeles Chargers: Please Don't Waste Herbert's Best Years
We hear a lot about how great Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert is — how he's a generational talent — and it's easy to see that on the field.
Herbert finished second in passing yards in the NFL in 2022 behind Patrick Mahomes but was eighth in touchdown passes. The Chargers snuck into the playoffs in the AFC wild-card game but lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars and another elite young quarterback, Trevor Lawrence, by blowing a 27-point lead in the second half.
At some point, the proof of how good Herbert really is must come in the form of postseason victories. And that probably won't happen until he gets a new head coach, because Brandon Staley isn't cutting it. The Chargers are in danger of wasting the best years of an elite quarterback if they don't get it together.
3. Buffalo Bills: For the Love of God, Stop Turning the Ball Over
Josh Allen's stock took a dip thanks to his penchant for turning the ball over. In 2022, he coughed it up 27 times with 14 interceptions and 13 fumbles.
The Buffalo Bills also lost in the AFC divisional round for the second consecutive season but in much more embarrassing fashion this time by falling to the Cincinnati Bengals at home. In that loss, Allen was 25-of-42 passing for 265 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.
The end of the Bills' season came tidily packaged with a sideline implosion by their best wide receiver, Stefon Diggs, directed toward Allen. That's always a bad sign.
2. Cincinnati Bengals: Burrow About to Become $50 Million-Dollar Man
One NFL team has emerged from the pack as a legitimate challenger to the Kansas City Chiefs, and one player has shown he can go toe to toe with Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
That's the Cincinnati Bengals and quarterback Joe Burrow, who beat the Chiefs in the AFC championship game in 2022 at Arrowhead Stadium and came close to beating them again in 2023.
The big question with the Bengals is whether or not they can afford to keep elite talent around Burrow likely will get paid around $50 million per season on his next contract, and we haven't seen Burrow at his best yet. Don't forget he started the 2022 season off after having his appendix removed in mid-August and still started every game.
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1. Kansas City Chiefs: On the Doorstep of a Dynasty
No quarterback in NFL history can equal what Patrick Mahomes has done in his first five years as a starter for the Kansas City Chiefs — two Super Bowl victories, two Super Bowl MVPs, two NFL MVPs, three AFC championships and five consecutive AFC championship game appearances. One more Super Bowl win and it's officially a dynasty.
Mahomes, just 27 years old, has also rushed for over 300 yards in each of the last three seasons — perhaps his most underrated quality as a quarterback. Actor Paul Rudd's son, 17-year-old Jack Rudd, gave perhaps the best description of Mahomes we've heard so far following the Chiefs' Super Bowl LVII win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
"I cannot believe he's a real person," Jack said. "I don't know how to explain it, I just can't believe he's a real person."
We feel you, Jack.
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