Matt Miller's Scouting Notebook: Supply vs. Demand Drives Quarterback Market
The 2022 NFL Draft class is notoriously weak at the quarterback position. What does half the league that could upgrade or add a passer this off-season do?
There are 32 teams in the NFL. Breaking news, I know. But the interesting part is that only 15 of those 32 teams are truly set at the quarterback position as we head towards the offseason.
Some teams’ futures are questionable—Miami, Philadelphia, Green Bay and Tampa Bay are among those—but there are also 12 teams that flat-out need to add a quarterback this offseason.
Fast-forwarding to free agency, trades and the 2022 NFL draft real quick; there aren’t that many good quarterbacks available. There never are, but this year is notably bad for teams that have waited to add their franchise quarterback or didn’t plan for the future in previous classes.
In today’s Scouting Notebook we’re going to break down the teams that need a quarterback now, those that have a future need, those that have question marks, and those that are set to evaluate the supply and demand at the most important position in sports.
Let’s start with those teams that have a quarterback in place and are very unlikely to draft one in the early rounds of the 2022 class. That might be because the team has an established star or because they’ve recently drafted a quarterback and are still in the developmental stage with him and aren’t prepared to give up yet.
They are the: Bills, Patriots, Jets, Ravens, Bengals, Colts, Jaguars, Titans, Chiefs, Chargers, Cowboys, Bears, Cardinals, Rams, 49ers and Buccaneers.
Question Mark Teams
Here are the tricky ones. These teams could draft a quarterback or make a trade, but they could also stay pat for the 2022 offseason. This is not a suggestion that these teams need to upgrade or change at quarterback, but situations that are flexible.
They are the: Dolphins, Raiders, Eagles and Packers.
Future Need Teams
Just like it says. These teams need to start thinking long-term about the quarterback position. For each, availability and the trade market could move them into “immediate need” territory.
They are the: Vikings, Falcons and Seahawks
Immediate Need Teams
These are the clubs that need an immediate upgrade or change at the position. It might be due to retirements or injuries, it can be from poor play and poor evaluating. Most importantly, it’s just a need due to poor play.
They are the: Browns, Texans, Broncos, Giants, Washington Football Team, Lions, Steelers, Panthers and Saints.
Identifying the teams that need a quarterback helps us in determining the need. Now we have to look at the supply.
Quarterbacks can be acquired via trades, free agency or the NFL draft. Each tier has it’s own strengths and issues this year.
Trade Market: Tyler Huntley (Ravens), Baker Mayfield (Browns), Deshaun Watson (Texans), Aaron Rodgers (Packers), Russell Wilson (Seahawks)
The trade market could be the gold mine of the off-season if all the quarterbacks listed become available. Watson, Rodgers and Wilson have all in the past 12 months at least hinted at wanting traded. Watson will be on the market this year depending on his legal situation, but Wilson and Rodgers could have a change of heart and stay put in their respective cities. Huntley, an exclusive rights free agent, has played well enough in Lamar Jackson’s absence that it makes sense he would be tagged by Baltimore and traded for a higher return on investment. Baker Mayfield is the interesting situation. He has not played well while injured this year and has just one season left on his original rookie contract—a year the Browns have already picked up the option on. If both sides agree that Mayfield isn’t the future in Cleveland, he could be shopped.
Free Agent Market: Marcus Mariota, Teddy Bridgwater, Jameis Winston, Andy Dalton, Mitchell Trubisky
This is, ugh, not great. There are many former first-rounders and starters here, but they’re all available for a reason. Each would be seen as a last-ditch effort type quarterback that could be a bridge until the 2023 offseason.
Draft Class: Kenny Pickett (Pitt), Matt Corral (Ole Miss), Malik Willis (Liberty), Desmond Ridder (Cincinnati), Carson Strong (Nevada), Sam Howell (North Carolina), Bailey Zappe (Western Kentucky)
I started doing this job professionally in 2011. Since that time, it’s safe to say that the 2022 quarterback class looks like the second-worst from a pre-draft basis. Only 2013’s memorable crop (EJ Manuel, Geno Smith, Mike Glennon) ranks as worse.
What makes this year’s group interesting is that the depth is quite good, it’s the top-end talent that’s lacking. No quarterback in this group would have been in the top five of last year’s class of passers. The same goes for 2020’s four first-rounders.
What will undoubtedly happen, though, is that throughout the draft process teams that have a desperate need at quarterback will overlook issues and over-inflate strengths to push these passers up the board. So while five of them could be drafted in Round 1 just four months from now, five of them definitely shouldn’t be.
To sum up this year’s supply vs. demand:
12 NFL teams have immediate or future needs at the position. Trades could fill some of those holes to only create others. Safely, we can say nine teams need a quarterback right now.
As you can see above, there are four to five quarterbacks likely to be available via trade that are starter-worthy. Free agency shouldn’t produce more than one starter. And the draft? Good luck.
Perhaps as much as we’ve ever seen it, supply and demand at the quarterback position is sure to leave some NFL teams in a bad way for the 2022 season.
What else are you getting in today’s Scouting Notebook?
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