By SCHUYLER DIXON, AP Pro Football Writer
A disappointing free agent class for quarterbacks is overshadowed by the possibility of several big names changing teams, including Aaron Rodgers.
From Rodgers’ potential move out of Green Bay to Jimmy Garoppolo’s likely departure from San Francisco despite the 49ers reaching another NFC Championship game with him, trades, not courtships, are the talk of the QB market.
The constant chatter about Rodgers drowns out a change that would be just as seismic – Russell Wilson leaving Seattle. The tension between Wilson and the Seahawks surfaced last offseason. Now the question is what is best for the future of the club, although the Seahawks continue to say they are not buying the winner of Super Bowl 48.
“I love the east coast, but I think the west coast is better for me right now,” Wilson said on NBC’s “Today” show this week, answering a question from a Washington Commanders fan. . “I have people hitting me every day, all my friends and stuff from the East Coast. But Seattle is where I am right now and I love it and it’s awesome.
Wilson still has two years left on a contract with a no-trade clause, which means he is in control of where he would go. And that raises another key question: which teams need a quarterback? Washington is on a list possibly overtaken by Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh with the retirements of Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger.
Rodgers’ stalemate with the Packers last summer ended with an agreement to void the final year of his contract in 2023. The club has said it will wait as long as it takes for the Packers MVP. last two seasons (four in total) decides if he wants to play for them, or play at all.
If Rodgers is looking for a trade, that adds another domino among teams looking for a free agency starter. These choices are not very slim, if at all.
Jameis Winston is arguably top of the free agent list because New Orleans seemed on track to make the playoffs to start the post-Drew Brees era when Winston’s season ended with a ligament. anterior cruciate torn on October 31.
The flip side is that the Saints were winning (5-2 after the game in which he was injured) without relying heavily on Winston as a setter. The 2015 No. 1 pick didn’t get a second contract at Tampa Bay because he threw too many interceptions (88 in five seasons).
Marcus Mariota is forever tied to Winston as the No. 2 pick in this draft, and the other QB who also didn’t get a second contract. Tennessee has moved on, so Mariota has been Derek Carr’s replacement in Las Vegas for the past two seasons. Could Mariota get another chance to start?
Mitchell Trubisky is perhaps the most intriguing option after a tumultuous stint in Chicago followed by a year as Josh Allen’s backup in Buffalo. The Bears declined his fifth-year option.
Cam Newton hasn’t shown he has anything left in a revival with Carolina, while Denver’s Teddy Bridgewater appears to be heading for his fourth team in four seasons. Jacoby Brissett and Tyrod Taylor are substitutes at best.
Andy Dalton never gained ground in Chicago even though he signed expecting to be the starter after a year as Dak Prescott’s replacement (and injury replacement) in Dallas. That all changed when the Bears moved up nine spots in last year’s draft to place Justin Fields in 11th place.
Dalton, 34, and Ryan Fitzpatrick, 39, are the oldest statesmen. Fitzpatrick is fresh off a hip injury that limited him to one start in Washington.
The Packers don’t claim to know what Rodgers will decide and appear to be postponing all major roster decisions until he does. Rodgers said he will make up his mind before free agency, but the club has less than a week to decide whether or not to place the franchise tag on Rodgers’ prime target Davante Adams.
Given the recent offseason move of Carson Wentz (Philadelphia to Indianapolis) and Matthew Stafford/Jared Goff (a Los Angeles Rams-Detroit trade), it shouldn’t be difficult for Green Bay to arrange a trade. There will be many interested teams.
Garoppolo took the 49ers to the Super Bowl three seasons ago when they lost to Kansas City. San Francisco fell to Stafford and the Rams in a surprise run to the NFC title game last season. But the front office has made it clear it’s ready to hand the team over to Trey Lance, the third pick in last year’s draft.
Garoppolo’s hit cap is a pretty manageable $27 million, especially assuming he starts somewhere. However, any potential swap has been complicated by recent surgery on his (right) shoulder.
The outlook is still unclear for Houston’s Deshaun Watson, who faces civil lawsuits over allegations of sexual assault and harassment. There has been no official word on possible criminal charges. Any club suing Watson will want clarification on these matters. Before the allegations became public, Watson demanded a trade, saying he would no longer play for the Texans. He didn’t dress in 2021.
There’s little reason to believe Mason Rudolph is the long-term answer for the Steelers, who haven’t been on the market for nearly 20 years. The outlook is even more uncertain with the Buccaneers.
The decision to replace Winston got a quick and easy answer with Brady. Neither “quick” nor “easy” comes to mind now. Journeyman Blaine Gabbert is a free agent and third lineman Kyle Trask has yet to take a photo. He was a second-round pick in Florida last year. The Bucs are a solid candidate for a trade.
The Saints have a $12 million cap for a QB gimmick at Taysom Hill. The money alone would seem to make him a candidate to start without another veteran entering. Winston’s re-signing shouldn’t be ruled out.
Houston could go with sophomore Davis Mills after showing significant improvement late last season off Taylor’s bench.
Washington, Carolina and Denver are still in the hunt for quarterbacks after 2021 decisions fell through due to injuries (Fitzpatrick’s hip at Washington) or inefficiency (Sam Darnold with the Panthers, Bridgewater at Denver).
The Broncos’ new coach is Nathaniel Hackett, raved about by Rodgers after three seasons as Green Bay’s offensive coordinator. Additionally, Denver turned the addition of Peyton Manning a decade ago into a pair of Super Bowl trips over four seasons, capped by winning the 2015 championship before Manning retired.
The uncertainty of Wentz’s future with the Colts adds another dynamic to quarterbacks in free agency. There are indications the Colts could dump him. If so, there’s no doubt a third club would give him a chance to start, despite the extinctions in Philadelphia and Indy.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://apnews.com/hub/pro-32 and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.