Best and Worst Outcomes for 2023 NFL Season's Major QB Questions
0 of 10
Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images
Generally speaking, the NFL currently lacks notable quarterback battles.
But that isn't likely to hold up, and a wide variety of dynamics will inevitably lead to some interesting questions around the position throughout the league this fall.
Let's take some of the most intriguing situations and consider the best and worst outcomes from the perspective of the teams involved.
1 of 10
Norm Hall/Getty Images
Best: Kyler Murray gets healthy and shows progress
What more could the Cardinals ask for this season? Murray will count an average of nearly $50 million against the salary cap in 2024 and 2025, according to Spotrac, and the team just needs certainty that he'll be good to go beyond this spoiled rebuild year.
Worst: Murray rushes back and/or underperforms, and Cardinals lose out on a top draft pick to replace him
Alternatively, the Cardinals could at least appreciate the certainty associated with knowing Murray just isn't the guy for whatever reason.
If they do come to that realization this season, though, they'd better hope they stink enough to land a primo draft pick for a shot at an elite prospect such as Caleb Williams or Drake Maye next April.
2 of 10
AP Photo/Zach Bolinger
Best: Justin Fields makes a huge leap as a passer
As great as the 2021 first-round pick was with his feet as a sophomore, he ranked dead-last overall among quarterbacks with more than 10 starts in terms of completion percentage at 60.4 percent, and his 85.2 passer rating was in the bottom 10 among qualified passers.
Worst: Fields improves only moderately
Fields' rating jumped from 74.6 in his first seven games to 93.1 in his final eight outings. He threw 12 touchdown passes to just five interceptions during that latter run. If he can build on that, the Bears will be golden.
However, if the 24-year-old lands in limbo somewhere between 2022 and something reliable, and if the Bears make some strides in the standings as a result, Chicago could be left searching for answers without a prime draft pick
Green Bay Packers
3 of 10
AP Photo/Mike Roemer
Best: Jordan Love becomes the next Aaron Rodgers
After 31 years of Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, the Packers are hoping they've found another legendary longtime starter in Love. Even if the team fails to contend in 2023, that alone would be a success.
Worst: More uncertainty about Love, but the Packers hang in
Even as things fell flat in 2022, the Packers ranked 12th in DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) at Football Outsiders.
They are a consistently competitive team that hasn't won fewer than six games since 2005, but if Love doesn't take the reins and they still hang in as a team, they'll be in a tough spot next offseason.
4 of 10
David Berding/Getty Images
Best: Kirk Cousins finally puts it all together
It's a walk year for the 35-year-old, and he has just one playoff win in his professional career. This is probably his last chance.
Worst: Cousins is OK and good enough for Minnesota to be semi-competitive
The Vikings haven't won fewer than six games since 2013, and Cousins could keep them competitive. If the team maintain that record and he doesn't put it all together, Minnesota could be left in an awful spot without a shot at a quarterback such as Williams or Maye in the NFL draft.
New York Jets
5 of 10
Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Best: Aaron Rodgers rebounds and continues his career beyond 2023
Rodgers looks and sounds revitalized, and it's entirely possible 2022 was an aberration. Quarterbacks often do excel after quite a lot of mileage in today's NFL, so it's possible the 39-year-old will break out with more support and a fresh setting to help the Jets compete for several years to come.
Worst: Rodgers continues to decline but refuses to walk away
Rodgers' passer rating plummeted by more than 20 points in 2022, with his yards-per-attempt average dropping by nearly a full yard and his QBR sinking astronomically from 69.1 to 39.3.
The four-time NFL MVP had a lousy 86.1 passer rating in the second half of one-score games, a mediocre 88.7 rating on deep pass attempts and an awful 76.2 rating on third down. And he ranked well below the league median in completed air yards per attempt despite being one of the least-pressured QBs in the NFL.
There's a good chance Rodgers is done, but he could refuse to retire, leaving the Jets in a terrible spot.
6 of 10
Joe Sargent/Getty Images
Best: Kenny Pickett takes the next step
Only Zach Wilson had a lower passer rating among qualified quarterbacks in 2022, so Pickett has a lot of work to do.
The 2022 first-round pick has the ability to become something special, and that should be the primary concern for a team that is not a prime Super Bowl contender.
Worst: Pickett fails, but the defense still helps the team win a bunch of games
A team that hasn't posted a losing record in two decades might need to finally throw a season away if Pickett doesn't improve.
However, with a star-studded defense led by T.J. Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Cameron Heyward, the Steelers might be left without significant draft ammunition even if the second-year quarterback doesn't come through.
San Francisco 49ers
7 of 10
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu
Best: One of their three options emerges
It seems clear the San Francisco 49ers favor Brock Purdy, but all that matters is that he, Trey Lance or Sam Darnold takes a hold on the role.
This contending team can't afford another carousel at the quarterback position.
Worst: They stick by Purdy too long and fail to get a strong read on the other two options
Kyle Shanahan and Co. have been pretty firm on Purdy, which has me wondering if they'll stick by him too long even if he's not as crisp against defenses that are more familiar with him as a sophomore.
Doing so could cost the 49ers their season and leave the team still unsure about its quarterback entering 2024.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
8 of 10
Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Best: They get full evaluations of Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask
The Bucs are clinging to some veteran talent, but they've taken too many hits in recent offseasons to keep up.
The goal now should be to find out if either Mayfield or Trask can become the team's next franchise quarterback. Then they can go from there in the 2024 offseason.
Worst: They spend too much time on one and are in a similar spot next offseason
This is similar to San Francisco's situation. If the Bucs give Mayfield an extended run and he doesn't excel, they'll enter the 2024 offseason debating Trask versus an external alternative.
9 of 10
Silas Walker/Getty Images
Best: Malik Willis or Will Levis steals the starting job
Neither 24-year-old has an NFL track record, but Titans fans must be hoping one can become the long-term guy. Ryan Tannehill is 35 now, and his QBR has dropped in back-to-back seasons.
Worst: Tannehill performs just well enough to keep the Titans from abandoning him
It's also possible the Titans don't get enough of a look at either Willis or Levis because they won't move on from the well-paid Tannehill, especially if he keeps them semi-competitive in a contract year.
That will leave them deciding between at least three quarterbacks next offseason.
10 of 10
Scott Taetsch/Getty Images
Best: Sam Howell arrives
The sophomore is clearly locked in as the starter and has shown some encouraging signs so far.
To be in the playoff picture, though, a Washington team with a strong defense will need the 22-year-old to take off.
Worst: Howell fails but the defense still helps the team win a bunch of games
If it turns out Howell isn't the guy and the defense still comes through, the Commanders could be left with limited draft capital and no quarterback in the 2024 offseason.