The NFL season is winding to a close. While some teams are ready to push on to the playoffs, others are already working out offseason plans. Some of those plans will involve changes at the quarterback position as a number of starting signal-callers could lose their jobs this offseason.
Trades involving Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson could throw the quarterback market into even more chaos. Below we've compiled a list of the 10 NFL quarterbacks most likely to lose their starting jobs this offseason.
Daniel Jones, New York Giants
For three seasons, the New York Giants have been waiting for Daniel Jones to prove himself worthy of the sixth pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. They are still waiting. The 24-year-old has been pretty terrible during his career, and 2021 saw no growth to his game. A neck injury ended his season early, but that may have been an act of mercy.
Jones finished the year completing 64.3 percent of his passes for 2,428 yards, averaged 6.7 yards per attempt, and had 10 touchdowns against seven interceptions. His passer rating of 84.8 ranks 26th in the league and his QBR of 42.6 ranks 23rd.
While the Giants will reportedly bring him back for a fourth season, don't be surprised if they bring in a new quarterback to compete with him (Russell Wilson, perhaps?). Jones isn't worthy of being a starter and has had plenty of time to prove himself.
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
It may be time for the Baker Mayfield experiment to end in Cleveland. In four seasons, Mayfield has struggled to prove himself as the team's long-term solution at quarterback and the 2021 season has only made things worse. Through 13 games played, Mayfield has only completed 62.4 percent of his passes for 2,825 yards, is averaging 7.4 yards per attempt and has thrown 15 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. His passer rating (86.1) ranks 25th in the league, while his dismal QBR of 37.8 also ranks 25th.
The Browns have yet to offer Mayfield a contract extension and he'll enter 2022 in the fifth and final year of his rookie deal. It wouldn't be surprising at all if Cleveland moved on from the former No. 1 overall pick.
Teddy Bridgewater, Denver Broncos
Teddy Bridgewater has battled injuries through his career and he's facing another setback now after suffering a brutal concussion in Week 15. Bridgewater is incredibly likable but before the injury he wasn't exactly setting the world on fire in Denver. He was serviceable but it's clearly time for the Broncos to take things in a new direction.
In 14 games, Bridgewater completed 66.9 percent of his passes for 3,052 yards and averaged 7.2 yards per attempt. He did throw for a career-high 18 touchdown passes against seven interceptions, and his passer rating (94.9) ranked 14th in the NFL. But his QBR of 47.1 ranks 20th and is more indicative of what he's done this season.
With Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert and even Derek Carr occupying the same division, the Broncos need to make a move to find a permanent solution at quarterback. The 29-year-old Bridgewater is what he is at this point and that's probably a high-level backup.
Sam Darnold, Carolina Panthers
Do I even need to explain this one? Darnold showed promise in his first few weeks with Carolina, but that vanished quickly. He's clearly talented but just can't get out of his own way. In 10 games he completed 58.3 percent of his passes for 2,176 yards. He averaged 6.4 yards per attempt and had seven touchdowns against 11 interceptions. His passer rating (70.8) ranks 30th leaguewide and his QBR (35.4) is 27th.
Darnold has one year left on his rookie deal and it's unlikely he's the starting quarterback in Carolina next year. If the Panthers can't unload him they'll probably have to hang on to him as a backup, but he won't get another full season as the starter.
Jared Goff, Detroit Lions
Jared Goff hoped a trade to Detroit would revive his career, instead it has only hardened opinions about him. He's struggled as the Lions have limped to a 2-12-1 record under first-year head coach Dan Campbell. In 13 games, Goff has completed 67.0 percent of his passes for 3,007 yards while averaging 6.5 yards per attempt. He has 17 touchdowns against eight interceptions. His passer rating (90.0) is 20th in the league, while his QBR (36.3) is 26th. He's shown very little and simply can't be counted on as the future of the franchise.
Goff has another year left on his contract before the Lions can cut him without winding up in salary cap hell. It's likely they find another option this offseason and make Goff a very expensive backup in 2022.
Taylor Heinicke, Washington Football Team
Look, Taylor Heinicke becoming an NFL starter is a nice little story, but the Washington Football Team isn't going anywhere with him long-term. It's time for the franchise to figure out a real option. Heinicke has been serviceable this season, completing 64.8 percent of his passes for 3,052 yards, averaging 6.9 yards per attempt and piling up 20 touchdowns against 14 interceptions. But his passer rating (86.9) ranks 23rd in the NFL, and his QBR (43.7) is 22nd. He's a backup, not a starter.
WFT needs to prioritize finding a long-term solution at quarterback this offseason. That's become clear after Heinicke has thrown five touchdowns and five interceptions during a crucial stretch of the season in his last four games. He's just not the guy.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
While Ben Roethlisberger has quietly told people he's planning to retire after 2021, we'll believe it when we see it. The Steelers and Roethlisberger can't seem to quit each other even though they should have a few years ago. If Roethlisberger somehow opts to come back next season, it almost certainly won't be as the starter.
In 14 games this season with what looks like a dead arm, Big Ben has completed 65.2 percent of his passes for 3,373 yards, has averaged 6.6 yards per attempt and has 20 touchdowns against eight interceptions. His passer rating of 90.2 is 19th in the NFL, while his QBR of 38.5 ranks 24th. He's done.
It's long past time the Steelers find a successor at quarterback. The options on the current roster aren't it.
Davis Mills, Houston Texans
This one may seem obvious, but after a good few weeks some have wondered if Mills would enter 2022 with a legit shot to keep his job. That's almost certainly not going to happen. He's been a nice story, but the Texans need a long-term, high-upside solution under center and that's not Mills.
In 11 games, the rookie has completed 66.6 percent of his passes for 2,200 yards, averaging 6.6 yards per attempt and throwing 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions. His passer rating (86.2) is 24th in the NFL, while his woeful QBR (31.9) ranks 29th out of the 31 qualifying quarterbacks.
Sure it was fun watching him outduel Justin Herbert in Week 16, but that's not sustainable. Houston needs to solve its long-term quarterback solution this offseason and figure out what to do about Deshaun Watson.
Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints
Jameis Winston was actually pretty good during his seven games as the Saints' starting quarterback this season before suffering a torn ACL. He completed 59.0 percent of his passes for 1,170 yards, with 14 touchdowns and three interceptions. He averaged 7.3 yards per attempt and posted a passer rating of 102.8 and a QBR of 64.4. Those aren't bad numbers.
But Winston will be 28 next season, his contract is up and he's become an injury risk. He's never been the most reliable quarterback on the planet and it just feels like it's time for Sean Payton to find his next Drew Brees instead of experimenting. The Saints should probably move on from Winston -- who might be able to find a starting job elsewhere -- and begin planning for the future.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Matt Ryan is trying, he really is, but at 36 he just looks like a shell of his former self. He's become an average NFL quarterback and his arm looks to be in pretty bad shape. The Falcons likely need to start planning for their next step as a franchise and those plans can't include Ryan starting.
Through 15 games, Ryan has completed 67.9 percent of his passes for 3,555 yards. He's averaging 7.1 yards per attempt and has 19 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. But his passer rating of 91.5 ranks 17th leaguewide, and his QBR of 48.7 is 18th. He's not going to get any better.
Ryan cap hit in 2022 is going to be $48.6 million, and falls to $43.6 million in 2023. Cutting him or trading him this offseason would leave the Falcons with $40.5 million in dead money but $8 million in cap savings. In the end, they'll likely have to keep him on the roster next season, which means their only real path forward will be drafting their next quarterback with a high pick in April.