The NFL offseason doesn’t officially begin for a few weeks, but teams are beginning to make major personnel decisions for next year. This time of year is usually dedicated to teams figuring out if they want to put a Franchise or Transition tag onto one of their unrestricted free agents.
Over the past few days, teams have been letting go of notable veteran players to free cap space for this off-season. Derek Carr, Taylor Lewan, and Bobby Wagner are some of the players who have already been let go this off-season.
There are plenty of players who could still be released or even traded before the official start of the 2023 off-season. Here are the quarterbacks that could be moved during the 2023 off-season.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
One of the biggest quarterback dominos this offseason, and seemingly every offseason, is Aaron Rodgers. For the past three years, Rodgers has made the Green Bay Packers and other teams sit and wait until he decides whether he wants to return to Green Bay, play elsewhere, or retire. Despite signing a four-year $200 Million extension last offseason there are still conversations pertaining to where Rodgers will play next year.
After winning back-to-back MVPs, Rodgers struggled this past season. It was clear that Rodgers missed his All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams who was traded to Las Vegas about a year ago. Green Bay did not go after any big-name receivers last off-season. Instead, they traded up to draft Christian Watson in the second round and took Romeo Doubs in the fourth round. Rodgers completed 64.6% of his passes for 3,695 passing yards, 26 passing touchdowns, and 12 interceptions.
There are only two positives for Green Bay moving off Rodgers. They could finally see what 2020 first-round pick Jordan Love could do in a full-time starting role. Green Bay also would no longer have to go through the emotional roller coaster that is Rodgers deciding his future with the team every offseason. Trading Rodgers would leave Green Bay with a $40 million dead-cap hit and would also take up an additional $8.69 million in cap space.
If Rodgers is moved the two hottest destinations for his services have been the New York Jets and Las Vegas Raiders. Despite his poor play last season, Rodgers’ services could demand blockbuster offers from both teams. It is hard to imagine many teams making definite decisions at quarterback before Rodgers lands with a new team or decides to return to Green Bay.
Carson Wentz, Washington Commanders
It appears for the third season in a row Carson Wentz could be playing for a new team. If that is the case the former second-overall pick and MVP candidate has officially joined the ranks of the journeyman quarterbacks. Barring a bounce-back season in Washington the expectation was that Wentz would be a stopgap for the Commanders at the position. At this point in his career, Wentz is just a below-average starter who has the upside of putting together a few great games during a season.
Wentz put up great statistics to begin the season. He threw for over 600 yards, seven passing touchdowns, and three interceptions in the first two games of the year. But then he regressed significantly and sustained a finger injury that would cause him to miss a large chunk of the season. Wentz was limited to eight games (seven starts) during the 2022-23 season. He finished the year completing 62.3% of his passes for 1,755 passing yards, 11 passing touchdowns, and nine interceptions.
If Wentz was to be released or traded the Commanders would get all of his $26.2 million salary off the books for next season. The combination of the team likely going a different direction at quarterback and the fact that his entire salary could come off the books makes Wentz extremely likely to be moved in the coming weeks. It seems unlikely that a third team would be willing to trade draft capital to bring in Wentz. So it is very likely that Wentz gets released.
Teams likely won’t be chopping at the bit to add Wentz to their roster for a starting role. He will likely get some initial interest as a backup, but will likely be able to land in a situation where he could compete for the starting job. Wentz could be signed to be a bridge quarterback for a team next season.
Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints
If the New Orleans Saints had been a better team this season their quarterback situation would have gained more interest from national media during the regular season. Jameis Winston signed a two-year $28 million extension this past offseason. But despite signing that contract, Winston spent the majority of the season as the team’s second-string backup behind previous backup Andy Dalton. The weird thing about the situation was that Winston hadn’t played that awful and Dalton did not play much better than Winston.
Winston only started in three games this past year. Dalton originally saw playing time over him after Winston could not continue to play through the back fractures he sustained in the first week of the regular season. After being listed as inactive for Week 4 and Week 5 Winston returned to be Dalton’s backup. Despite poor play from Dalton at times this year, Winston was never given a second look to play for the Saints. He finished the year completing 67.6% of his passes for 858 passing yards, four passing touchdowns, and five interceptions.
It would be hard to imagine New Orleans holding onto Winston as a backup because of his high salary number and atrocious cap situation. There is a smaller percentage of a chance that Winston remains in New Orleans as the starter after the events of last season and Winston’s fair but public comments about getting benched. New Orleans would take on an $11.2 million dead-cap hit if Winston is traded or released. Moving Winston off their roster would free up $4.4 million in cap space for the Saints.
If the Saints were able to trade Winston’s contract that would be shocking because teams likely don’t value him at the salary that New Orleans owes him. There should be a decent amount of interest in Winston’s services around the league if he was to be released. Winston would immediately become one of the better backup quarterbacks in the league if the was to sign with a new team this offseason.
Matt Ryan, Indianapolis Colts
The 2022-23 season was not kind to Matt Ryan and the Indianapolis Colts. Many expected the addition of Ryan to this roster to propel this team into a playoff spot. Instead, the Colts had an awful season that landed them the fourth-worst record in the NFL. Indianapolis’ season was highlighted by the firing of Frank Reich mid-season and a game of musical chairs at the quarterback position.
The Colts struggled to move the ball down the field with Ryan at quarterback. Indianapolis’ deteriorating offensive line struggled to give Ryan a clean enough pocket to throw. It appeared that at Ryan’s age, he needs a lot of support to keep an offense afloat and Indianapolis couldn’t provide him with that. After the first seven weeks of the season, Indianapolis decided to bench Ryan for second-year quarterback Sam Ehlinger. Two weeks later the Colts fired head coach Frank Reich and interim head coach Jeff Saturday reinstated Ryan as their starter. But then Ryan was benched for a second time for veteran Nick Foles for the final three weeks of the regular season. Ryan finished the year playing in 12 games. He completed 67% of his passes for 3,057 passing yards, 14 passing touchdowns, and 13 interceptions.
Since Indianapolis has hired a new head coach in Shane Steichen, it is unlikely that the team holds onto Ryan. If Indianapolis was to trade Ryan they would only take on a $6 million cap hit and would get $29.2 million in cap space opened up. However, it seems unlikely that a team would be willing to pay the remaining of Ryan’s $29.2 million salary for this season. So it is more likely that Ryan is released. If he was to be released Indianapolis would have to take on an $18 million dead cap hit. They would also free up $17.2 million in cap space.
Despite being one of the older quarterbacks in the league Ryan may decide he wants to return for at least another season. If Ryan was to return he would likely have to compete with a younger quarterback in camp for a starting job. He might not be a team’s first option when it comes to adding a quarterback this off-season. But there could be a role for Ryan in the league in 2023-24. He could even develop into a role similar to fellow 2008 NFL Draft first-round quarterback Joe Flacco.
Marcus Mariota, Atlanta Falcons
Last offseason the Atlanta Falcons pushed all their chips into the middle of the table when they went after Deshaun Watson. After getting beaten out by the Cleveland Browns in the 11th hour, Atlanta now had to face their incumbent starter Matt Ryan who was displeased with the team trying to trade for Watson. They felt trading Ryan was the right thing to do after attempting to trade for his replacement. As a result of this, the Falcons’ best option was to bring in Marcus Mariota to become the team’s starting quarterback. They signed Mariota to a two-year $18.75 contract.
The season went as expected for Mariota and the Falcons. Atlanta’s offense struggled throughout the majority of the season. It was fair to say that their quarterback play limited the production of former first-round picks Kyle Pitts and Drake London. Mariota started the first 13 games of the season for the Falcons. He was benched for rookie Desmond Ridder for the final month of the season. Mariota finished the season completing 61.3% of his passes for 2,219 passing yards, 15 passing touchdowns, and nine interceptions. He also had 34 rushing attempts for 252 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.
Atlanta is expected to go in a different direction than Mariota at quarterback. They could either role with Ridder, draft a rookie, or acquire a veteran. Regardless of which route they go it likely means that Mariota is out of Atlanta. If Mariota is released or traded Atlanta takes on only a $2.5 million dead cap hit. The Falcons would free up $12 million in cap space if they let go of Mariota.
It is unlikely that another team would be willing to pay Mariota the $12 million left on his deal. So trading him isn’t a realistic option. But releasing Mariota seems like a no-brainer for Atlanta for the cap space it will open up. This season Mariota showed the league that he could be relied upon to start for one or a stretch of games as long as he depended upon in a backup role.
Mitch Trubisky, Pittsburgh Steelers
Following the retirement of future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger Pittsburgh decided to sign veteran quarterback Mitch Trubisky. They signed him to a two-year $14.285 million deal. Many were puzzled by Pittsburgh’s decision to go with. a veteran in Trubisky who was a backup the year before with Buffalo and hadn’t shown much during his time as a starter in Chicago. But the Steelers were looking for a veteran that they could trust as a bridge quarterback until the rookie they inevitably drafted in the first round (Kenny Pickett) was ready to play.
Trubisky beat out Pickett (and Mason Rudolph) for the starting job in training camp. But he only started the first four games of the season before being benched for Pickett. Trubisky did not show much improvement from his time with Chicago to his time with Pittsburgh. In seven total games (five starts) Trubisky completed 65% of his passes for 1,252 passing yards, four passing touchdowns, and five touchdowns.
Now it could make some sense to hold onto Trubisky even though he has a $10.6 million cap hit for 2023-24. Pickett had suffered multiple concussions during his first season. Having an experienced backup on the roster could benefit Pittsburgh. But the Steelers also have something to gain by moving Trubisky. If they trade or release Trubisky the Steelers only have a $2.6 million dead cap it. Pittburgh would gain $8 million in cap space if he was traded or released.
Trubisky showed that he is likely a backup quarterback going forward in his career. It wouldn’t be shocking if the Steelers got some trade interest for Trubisky. But if he was to hit the open market he would become one of the most desired backup quarterbacks.
Nick Foles, Indianapolis Colts
It is hard to find a more up-and-down NFL career than the career of Nick Foles. The former Super Bowl MVP signed a two-year $6.2 million deal with the Indianapolis Colts this offseason. Despite all the quarterback controversy that took place in Indianapolis, Foles did not see any action till the end of the season. It was surprising to see Frank Reick turn to Sam Ehlinger instead of the veteran Nick Foles when Matt Ryan was benched.
Foles only played and started in two games of the season for Indianapolis. By this time of the season the Colts were on a four-game losing streak and likely were staring down the end of the season. Foles finished the season completing 59.5% of his passes for 224 passing yards, zero passing touchdowns, and three interceptions.
Indianapolis is expected to start over at the quarterback position so they’ll likely release Foles. If they release him Foles will only have a $1.5 million dead cap hit. Releasing Foles will free $2.1 million in cap space for Indianapolis. If the Colts were able to trade Foles all $3.6 million of his salary would come off the books for them.
Despite being a household name it is uncertain whether Foles will have a job with an NFL team next season. At the age of 34, he could be considering retirement. A team could try to bring in Foles as an established backup quarterback who could make a spot start if necessary. The team that would sign Foles would likely some a connection to the Andy Reid, Doug Pederson, or Frank Reich coaching trees.
Colt McCoy, Arizona Cardinals
There hasn’t been a more consistent backup in the league over the past decade than Colt McCoy. It seems like every time McCoy starts for a team he surprises people by keeping the offense afloat. For the second season in a row, McCoy played meaningful snaps for the Cardinals. Even though McCoy signed a two-year $7.5 million extension with Arizona last year he could be playing somewhere else next season.
McCoy started in three games and played in four total for the Cardinals. Following Kyler Murray’s ACL tear in Week 14 McCoy was forced into a starting role for the rest of the season until he got hurt. He finished the season completing 68.2% of his passes for 780 passing yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions.
Now that Murray is out for a majority of most of if not all of next season and the Cardinals have a new coaching staff the team may look to reshape their quarterback rook based on what they’ll need next season. This may result in the Cardinals moving on from McCoy. If they were to cut him they would have to take on a $3.5 million dead cap hit. But it would free up $1.5 million in cap space. If Arizona traded McCoy they would only take on a $1.25 million in dead cap but free up $3.75 million in cap space.
Arizona’s new coaching staff would likely love to hold onto McCoy if Murray was healthy. However, they likely don’t want him starting at least nine games next season. They’d move on from McCoy to bring in a backup that they feel more confident as their starting quarterback to begin the year. McCoy would be a very sought-after backup if he were to become available.
Trevor Siemian, Chicago Bears
Over the past few seasons, Trevor Siemian has made a nice career as a former seventh-round draft pick becoming a quality backup quarterback. Last offseason he signed a two-year $4 million contract with the Chicago Bears to backup Justin Fields. In his first season with the team, Siemian saw some action playing in two games and starting in one.
He only completed one pass for five yards against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 8. Then in his only start against the New York Jets, he completed 14 of his 25 passes (56%) for 179 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Chicago ended up losing to New York 31-10 that game.
Siemian is not an expensive backup on Chicago’s roster. However, the team could look to upgrade the position and it is easy to move off of Siemian’s contract. If Chicago was to release or trade Siemian they would only have to take on a $500,000 cap hit. The Bears would free up $1.965 million in cap space if Siemian was traded or released.
At this point of his career, Siemian could get cut tomorrow, cut during training camp, or make the Week 1 roster and it wouldn’t shock anybody. But at a minimum, if Siemian was released he would be a camp arm for a team that would compete for a backup quarterback job or lands a priority spot on a team’s practice squad.