Two of the extra intriguing Week 1 matchups within the NFL contain quarterbacks going through their previous groups, together with Russell Wilson‘s go to to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday evening (8:15 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN/ESPN+).
9 groups could have a brand new starter beneath middle this season, and the way these QBs slot in shall be some of the compelling storylines of the season.
Wilson spent his first 10 years in Seattle earlier than being traded to the Denver Broncos on March 8 in one of many largest offers in NFL historical past.
Baker Mayfield performed solely 4 seasons in Cleveland, however they have been eventful. He led the Browns to their first playoff victory in 26 years in 2020, earlier than falling out of favor in Cleveland final season. Mayfield was traded on July 6 to the Panthers, who host the Browns on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, CBS).
There was some drama added to Mayfield’s reunion sport when it was reported how badly he needed to beat the Browns.
Not all the QB change was based mostly on somebody switching groups. Trey Lance‘s ascension to San Francisco 49ers starter was introduced when it appeared Jimmy Garoppolo can be traded, however Garoppolo ended up staying in San Francisco, and he shall be Lance’s backup.
NFL Nation reporters break down the flooring and ceilings of the quarterbacks in new roles, or new cities, and ESPN NFL fantasy analyst Mike Clay supplies a statistical projection for the season.
The QB swap: Marcus Mariota replaces Matt Ryan
What prompted the change: The Falcons have been pursuing Deshaun Watson, who was going through 22 lawsuits alleging sexual assault and inappropriate conduct throughout therapeutic massage classes. Throughout that course of, Atlanta allowed Ryan to pursue potential commerce companions, and Ryan felt snug with the Colts. When Houston traded Watson to Cleveland, the Falcons then dealt Ryan to Indianapolis. The identical day, the Falcons signed Mariota, who performed beneath Atlanta coach Arthur Smith when Smith was the offensive coordinator in Tennessee. On this yr’s draft, the workforce additionally chosen rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder within the third spherical.
What’s Mariota’s ceiling: The most effective-case state of affairs for the Falcons is Mariota rediscovers what made him the No. 2 general choose within the 2015 draft and the quarterback who threw for 26 touchdowns and 9 interceptions in 2016. If Atlanta can have an improved model of what Mariota was with the Titans, he might have an opportunity to be the long-term starter, giving the Falcons extra flexibility within the 2023 draft.
Mariota’s flooring: Mariota’s accuracy was a problem in Tennessee — he is a profession 62.8% passer — and he was finally benched in 2019 in favor of Ryan Tannehill. If Mariota has the identical precision points in Atlanta, he might lose his job to Ridder. The ground for the Falcons: Neither Mariota nor Ridder seems to be just like the medium- or long-term quarterback reply, and that sends the workforce into the 2023 offseason determined for a quarterback. — Michael Rothstein
Clay’s projection for Mariota: 2,123 yards, 10 TDs, 7 INTs
The QB swap: Baker Mayfield replaces Sam Darnold
What prompted the change: Darnold was 4-7 and one of many lowest-rated quarterbacks within the NFL in 2021, so the Panthers went after Deshaun Watson. After the Texans traded Watson to the Browns, the Panthers drafted Matt Corral. When it was obvious Corral was a challenge, Carolina traded for Mayfield as a result of Cleveland paid nearly all of his 2022 wage.
What’s Mayfield’s ceiling: Excessive if Carolina will get the 2020 model of Mayfield, 11-5 at Cleveland with a playoff win, and never the 2021 model who went 6-8 whereas coping with an harm to his left (non-throwing) shoulder. If operating again Christian McCaffrey can keep wholesome, Mayfield has an opportunity to have a powerful season and get a giant, long-term contract.
Mayfield’s flooring: Fairly low if he begins sluggish, however he will not have to fret about being on a brief leash. Darnold suffered a excessive left ankle sprain and was placed on injured reserve, that means he’ll must miss a minimum of 4 weeks. Corral suffered a Lisfranc tear in his left foot and was placed on season-ending IR. That leaves PJ Walker as Mayfield’s backup. –– David Newton
Clay’s projection for Mayfield: 4,005 yards, 20 TDs, 16 INTs
The QB swap: Deshaun Watson replaces Baker Mayfield
What prompted the change: After injuring his non-throwing shoulder in Week 2, Mayfield was by no means the identical final season, and the Browns completed 8-9. With a roster able to contend for a Tremendous Bowl, the Browns went all-in on Watson, who was going through 22 lawsuits alleging sexual assault and inappropriate conduct throughout therapeutic massage classes.
What’s Watson’s ceiling: When Watson was final on the sphere in 2020, he carried out like a top-five QB. To regain that degree, Watson could have a variety of rust to shake off after sitting out final season and serving an 11-game suspension to start out this season. Jacoby Brissett will start the season because the starter, and whereas he has been a backup a lot of his profession, he has a 14-23 report as a starter. His finest season was in 2019 with the Indianapolis Colts after Andrew Luck’s shock retirement. Brissett handed for two,942 yards and 18 touchdowns with six interceptions that season.
Watson’s flooring: Watson has by no means completed exterior the highest 15 in QBR. Even after lacking a lot time, it is onerous to see Watson not being within the prime half of passers within the league as soon as he does return. — Jake Trotter
Clay’s projection for Watson: 1,386 yards, 9 TDs, 4 INTs | Brissett: 2,117 yards, 12 TDs, 6 INTs
The QB swap: Russell Wilson replaces Teddy Bridgewater/Drew Lock
What prompted the change: The Broncos have missed the playoffs for six consecutive years — since profitable Tremendous Bowl 50 — and have not averaged greater than 21 factors per sport in any of the previous 5 seasons. So when the Seahawks instructed the Broncos that Wilson was obtainable, Broncos common supervisor George Paton pounced with a large bundle of gamers and draft picks, together with two first- and two second-round picks. And the Broncos rapidly moved to lock Wilson up long run with a five-year extension price $245 million, together with $165 million assured, sources say.
What’s Wilson’s ceiling: If the Broncos can discover their timing rapidly this season with a first-year head coach in Nathaniel Hackett, the ceiling is a Professional Bowl-caliber yr with Wilson throwing for extra yards, touchdowns and creating extra huge performs than anybody in Denver since Peyton Manning in 2014.
Wilson’s flooring: Due to the Broncos’ woes on offense lately, it would nonetheless be a season by which Wilson throws for extra yards and touchdowns than anyone in Denver since a wholesome Manning. But when issues do not go effectively, it could possibly be as a result of the Broncos did not shield Wilson effectively sufficient, and he did not do his half to get the ball out faster when he had the prospect. –– Jeff Legwold
Clay’s projection for Wilson: 4,081 yards, 30 TDs, 10 INTs
The QB swap: Matt Ryan replaces Carson Wentz
What prompted the change: The Colts’ passing sport turned closely restricted by the teaching workers’s lack of belief in Wentz late within the 2021 season. The Colts adopted primarily a power-run offense behind operating again Jonathan Taylor, however they determined they wanted extra from their passing sport. The Colts have been twenty sixth in passing yards final season.
What’s Ryan’s ceiling: Ryan might inject extra huge performs into the offense together with his skill to throw to receivers with timing, enabling extra yards after the catch. His timing can be a very good match for Colts coach Frank Reich’s offense, which emphasizes timing and rhythmic throws.
Ryan’s flooring: At minimal, Ryan offers the Colts a extra environment friendly passing sport, given his profession numbers in completion proportion and yards per try, to say nothing of the improved expertise round him. Ryan can be extra apt to make the most of checkdown throws to his operating backs. It is by no means a foul thought to get the ball into the fingers of Taylor and Nyheim Hines in house. –– Stephen Holder
Clay’s projection for Ryan: 3,878 yards, 24 TDs, 12 INTs
The QB swap: Mitch Trubisky replaces Ben Roethlisberger
What prompted the change: Roethlisberger retired, formally starting a brand new period in Pittsburgh. The workforce acquired Trubisky via free company and drafted Kenny Pickett within the first spherical, however the veteran held the sting on the rookie all through camp. Nonetheless, despite the fact that Trubisky initially received the beginning job — he was listed because the starter on the depth chart and in addition named one of many captains on Monday — Pickett shall be nipping at his heels via the common season.
What’s Trubisky’s ceiling: Even when he performs effectively for the Steelers in 2022 and showcases his mobility and arm, Trubisky is not the long-term reply in Pittsburgh. Pickett is the long run, and Trubisky’s finest hope is main the workforce to the playoffs and utilizing that to springboard to a different spot — much like Kurt Warner’s yr with the N.Y. Giants after the group drafted Eli Manning.
Trubisky’s flooring: Each Trubisky and Pickett have comparatively excessive flooring — that is what drew the Steelers to every quarterback within the offseason. The most important think about figuring out their flooring this yr is the offensive line play. The quarterbacks will go as the road goes, and if they can not get time to throw or room to work, the ground will get loads decrease. — Brooke Pryor
Clay’s projection for: Trubisky: 2,007 yards, 9 TDs, 7 INTs | Pickett: 2,135 yards, 11 TDs, 8 INTs
The QB swap: Trey Lance replaces Jimmy Garoppolo
What prompted the change: Garoppolo’s lack of ability to remain wholesome — he missed 23 video games over three seasons — spurred the Niners to commerce as much as choose Lance with the No. 3 general choose in 2021. After letting Lance sit for a yr behind Garoppolo, the Niners are able to see what their handpicked franchise quarterback can do. However in a transfer that stunned all concerned, the Niners held on to Garoppolo, who will now be Lance’s backup.
What’s Lance’s ceiling: Lance’s bodily abilities (sturdy arm, quick legs) have drawn Josh Allen comparisons from teammates similar to tight finish George Kittle. However greater than that, the Niners imagine in Lance’s skill to course of info and get via progressions rapidly. If Lance can enhance at an analogous fee to Allen, the Niners imagine they might have the franchise quarterback they’ve longed for because the days of Steve Younger.
Lance’s flooring: Like Allen, who performed collegiately at Wyoming, Lance additionally comes with some questions on accuracy and the extent of school competitors (Lance performed at North Dakota State). For instance, Lance’s completion proportion will seemingly be a lot decrease than Garoppolo’s, however the 49ers hope that’s offset by extra huge performs down the sphere and his operating skill. Due to the unknowns, Lance’s ceiling and flooring include important variance. –– Nick Wagoner
Clay’s projection for Lance: 3,506 yards, 22 TDs, 12 INTs, 517 yards dashing, 4 dashing TDs
The QB swap: Geno Smith/Drew Lock substitute Russell Wilson
What prompted the change: The Seahawks despatched Wilson to the Broncos in March in one of many largest trades in NFL historical past, the results of the quarterback wanting out and the group’s wariness about how his sport will proceed to age. Seattle acquired Drew Lock as a part of the return bundle, then did not draft a quarterback in April, organising a two-man competitors that the 31-year-old Smith received.
What’s Smith’s ceiling: The Seahawks hope Smith might be an efficient sport supervisor who avoids errors and lets their sturdy run sport do many of the heavy lifting. It is onerous to anticipate a lot past that on condition that he has a 13-21 profession report as a starter and hasn’t been a full-time QB1 since 2014.
What’s Smith’s flooring: The case to start out Lock argues that, because the youthful and extra gifted participant, he has the upper ceiling. However coach Pete Carroll goes with Smith (a minimum of for now) as a result of in his view, the 10-year veteran has demonstrated a stronger grasp of the offense and the flexibility to guard the soccer, which suggests he has the upper flooring. Smith performed effectively sufficient to maintain the Seahawks within the first two video games that he began final yr, slender losses to the Steelers and Saints. He was terrific in his third and last begin, a blowout win over Jacksonville. — Brady Henderson
Clay’s projection for: Smith: 2,481 yards, 12 TDs, 7 INTs | Lock: 1,740 yards, 9 TDs, 6 INTs
The QB swap: Carson Wentz replaces Taylor Heinicke
What prompted the change: Because the 2018 season, Washington has began 10 completely different quarterbacks and owns the NFL’s worst complete QBR at 36.7. The Commanders contemplate Heinicke a high-end backup; he is a wonderful competitor however is smaller and lacks optimum arm power. Additionally, with out a profitable season since 2016, the Commanders wanted to improve.
What’s Wentz’s ceiling: Just a few years in the past, his ceiling was NFL MVP. Accidents and inconsistent play have lowered the ceiling. His expertise, plus the encircling talent gamers, could make him a top-half quarterback who has some video games by which he resembles a top-10 passer and others by which he’ll wrestle. Washington hasn’t had a QB like that since Kirk Cousins.
Wentz’s flooring: In all probability backside 10; he ranked ninth in complete QBR final yr (54.7) however was benched in 2020. Whereas the expertise is nice, he wants a very good O-line so his tendency to carry the ball too lengthy does not get him in bother, and his accuracy turns into a problem beneath duress. — John Keim
Clay’s projection for Wentz: 3,760 yards, 24 TDs, 10 INTs