Big Ben Whitney: QB Carousel Spins Wildly, Divisional Power Shifts

STAMFORD, CT – This has been one of the wildest NFL offseasons in recent memory, with several surprises and big name players changing addresses. The QB Carousel is off the track, flinging signal callers all over the joint. I tell ya, these guys are being thrown around like tired sports references in a MTM column. I’ll go through each division, ranked from the one with the least exciting off-season to the most exciting, with a look at how each division has changed and the big question to be answered in 2022. Let’s get after it.

AFC East

Nothing doing here. Josh Allen is locked in place as the alpha dog. The Pats are hoping Mac Jones keeps ascending, but I’m not sure his ceiling is very high.

Speaking of low ceilings, how good of an NFL QB can you be if you can only throw the ball 25 yards? The Dolphins tried to upgrade, but it’s looking like another year of Tua. I guess they could do worse. Speaking of worse, the Jets are praying they see something from Zach Wilson this year so they don’t have to go back to the QB well on a very worn out path.

The Big Question: Can Tua surprise us and make a jump?

NFC East

Not much action here. Dak is not going anywhere in Dallas and is clearly the class of this division right now (which isn’t saying much). The Eagles kicked a lot of tires around the parking lot but weren’t able to find an upgrade over inaccurate Jalen Hurts. The Giants are taking one more fingers crossed look at Daniel Jones, but also brought it Tyrod Taylor in case he gets hurt again or stumbles. No one wants to see Jake Fromm under center in an NFL game ever again.

The Commandos (I know it’s Commanders, but my way is better) watched Carson Wentz collapse down the stretch and said, “that’s our guy.” I guess when the cupboard’s bare, a Filet-O-Fish looks like a filet mignon.

The Big Question: Will any of the three other QBs outside of Dallas take hold of the QB job for their teams?

NFC North

The action was pretty limited in this division as well. Aaron Rodgers showed that a huge paycheck will push a lot of water under the bridge. I would have liked to be a fly on the wall when he found out they traded Adams, who Rodgers called his “most dominant teammate” last season. Well, Allen Lazard’s fantasy stock is on the rise.

The Vikings also extended Kirk Cousins for another year at $35 million, because apparently, being pretty good is good enough for them. The Bears will look for a jump from Justin Fields. Who knows what the Lions are doing but it’s safe to say that Jared Goff is not the future.

The Big Question: How much will losing Adams hurt Rodgers and the Packers?

NFC South

Brady gave it the old college try but he didn’t make it two months with his family. In his defense, they do seem pretty annoying. Hell, he led the league in passing yards last year. If it were me, I’d do the same thing. “Fire it up again boys, let’s gooooo!” You can’t leave when you’re still playing at such a high level and the rest of the division’s QBs are a turd shish kabob. Hey, just like his AFC East days.

The Panthers, Falcons, and Saints are the losers of the Watson Sweepstakes, now stuck in QB purgatory. The Panthers have the cautionary tale of why you shouldn’t pick up a QB’s fifth year option unless you’re sure: Sam Darnold and his awful sidekick PJ Walker. The Falcons signed Marcus Mariota for two years and $18.75 million to be a placeholder. At least he can run away from the onslaught, unlike Matt Ryan. The Saints had to go back to the Booby Prize of Jameis Winston. It’s not pretty.

The Big Question: Will Brady continue to play at a high level?

NFC West

Matt Stafford did not take my advice to retire on his perfect non-Detroit championship percentage, and he’s back for more. “I’m telling you bro, if I’d have been drafted by New England, I would have won 10 championships. No one can win in Detroit.” They brought in Allen Robinson, which cost them Robert Woods. That seems like a lateral move at best. The Cards are of locked in on Kyler Murray, despite some unsolved squabbling.

The 49ers still have Garoppolo, despite supposedly getting an offer of two second round picks. If they liked Lance, that should have been enough. If he’s not ready now, then mortgaging the farm for him was a mistake. Maybe the Seahawks were the team to make that offer because right now they have only Drew Lock and Jacob Eason on the roster. Maybe they’ll find another Wilson-like draft day diamond-in-the-rough.

The Big Question: What is San Francisco’s plan to get Lance on the field?

AFC South

The Titans are going to roll with Tannehill for at least one more year and they seem oddly pleased with him. Trevor Lawrence will hopefully improve with a real NFL coach on board.

The Colts didn’t wait until they had a backup plan to dump Carson Wentz to the Commandos. But they found a backup plan in Matt Ryan. One man’s trash is another man’s starting QB. They have the running game and the O-line to protect, but the Colts could use another weapon or two in the passing game.

The Texans made out nicely on the Watson trade but this is a weak QB draft. The best strategy might be to try to build in the trenches and see what they have in Davis Mills. Next year’s QB class is expected to be strong. If they go for it and miss this year, it will be a long road back to respectability.

The Big Question: Does Matt Ryan have enough in the tank to make Indy a contender?

AFC North

Big action in this division. The Bengals are set with Super Bowl runner-up Joe Burrow and will try to improve the supporting cast. The Ravens are hoping Lamar’s step down was a blip and not the beginning of a trend to inconsistent play.

The Steelers are hoping that Mitch Trubisky can restart his career with a change of scenery like Tannehill. Maybe a bit o’ Josh A rubbed off on him…The Browns pushed all their chips in to the middle, plus the Rolex off their wrist, and the deed to their house in acquiring Deshaun Watson. Watson ruled out the Browns but when they told him they would pay him $230 million. All guaranteed. He reconsidered. You want to give me how much guaranteed? Throw in a tanker full of draft picks and the Browns went all the way in. I know one dude who is stoked – Amari Cooper.

The Big Question: Will the new look Browns click with Watson?

Why is this man smiling?

AFC West

Woah, Dave Casper and Charlie Joiner, this division had some action. The Chiefs and Chargers have two of the best young QBs in the game with Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert.

The Raiders will still have Derek Carr under center, but they added the best WR in the league with Davante Adams. And the Broncos made the big move at QB by trading for DangeRuss Wilson.

This should be a wild division, and there are three Wild Cards, so they could all make the playoffs.

The Big Question: Was Russ Wilson’s poor 2021 season a result of the finger injury or has a lost a bit?

Bonus question: How big of an impact will Adams have on the Raiders?

An Unemployed Baker and Some Rooks

The #1 pick seemed on the rise a year ago but was unceremoniously kicked to the curb by the Browns after a poor season. Now Baker is awaiting a trade. It seems like the most likely landing spots now are Seattle and Carolina. Mediocre Mayfield would be a huge upgrade for those teams.

It’s well known that it’s a weak QB draft class but you never know. Look how many of the above QBs around the league that were top 1-3 picks that recently got dumped – or have their teams trying to replace them: Mayfield, Wentz, Goff, Mariota, Winston, Darnold. There are no guarantees in this league.

There are no clear cut Game 1 starters in the bunch. The two that have the best chance are Kenny Pickett and Malik Willis. Pickett checks a lot of the boxes except for the kiss of death – tiny hands. Willis has a cannon for an arm and can run like my wife when I ask her for sexy time, but he likely needs some seasoning.

That’s my time. Come back tomorrow for Angry Ward. Follow us on Twitter at @benwhit, @MeetTheMatts, @Matt_McCarthy00, Instagram @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts.

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About Ben Whitney 402 Articles
Ben Whitney comes from journalistic stock. Aside from his brothers, rumor has that his great-great grandfather was the youngest brother of Eli Whitney and covered the earliest "rounders" games. Big Ben is also another New York Rugby Club player/pal of Different Matt, Short Matt and Junoir Blaber. He likes film noir discussions, has twin girls and took up ice hockey after retiring from rugby.