Best Available NFL QBS With Aaron Rodgers Off the Table

Jameis Winston
Jameis Winston / Rob Carr/GettyImages

The news we've all been waiting for finally broke on Tuesday as Pat McAfee announced Aaron Rodgers would return to the Green Bay Packers. This means, among many other things, that Rodgers will not hit the trade market. It's a blow to teams like the Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers, who do not have a starting-caliber option on the roster right now and were likely hoping they could steal Rodgers away from Green Bay.

But they cannot. They and every other quarterback-needy team this offseason will battle it out for the other options. Here we examine the best of those other options available in free agency and possibly on the trade market, appearing in no particular order.

Jameis Winston

Winston looked like he had, at the very least, made good progress on fixing his horrendous decision-making in six and a half games with the New Orleans Saints in 2021. Before tearing his ACL, Winston had 14 touchdowns and three interceptions while completing 59 percent of his passes. Those aren't astounding numbers but the TD:INT ratio is miles better than his 30 touchdown, 30 interception season in Tampa Bay, and the Saints did not exactly have an All-Star receiving corps last year. There are legitimate questions about how much of Winston's improvement was the direct influence of Sean Payton, now retired, but the former No. 1 overall pick is only 28 years-old. If he shows he's healthy, he's the highest-reward option in free agency -- even if he comes with high risk.

Jimmy Garoppolo

Garoppolo is a prime candidate to get traded, given he hit his ceiling with San Francisco and a trade would save the team $25 million against the cap. Despite the noise coming out of the Bay Area about a trade not being 100 percent certain, we can be as sure as possible that Garoppolo is going to the highest bidder sometime before the draft. While Jimmy G's flaws are obvious and were on display in the worst moments during the playoffs, he's still a good quarterback. He's not great -- but he's solid. Good enough to win games at a consistent clip as long as his supporting cast can lift him up. Garoppolo is expensive but he is a proven commodity. He will be highly sought after this offseason.

Mitchell Trubisky

Apparently Trubisky is back in everybody's good graces after spending a year in Buffalo behind Josh Allen. The biggest news coming out of the NFL combine was that the former No. 3 overall pick was going to be popular when free agency begins later this month and may even get a deal worth over $10 million a year. Trubisky barely saw the field in 2021 so we have no idea how he may or may not have improved since his final season in Chicago. But he did show flashes of competency with the Bears and is a playoff quarterback. That's a better resume than nearly every other free agent signal-caller this offseason, so he earns a place on the list.

Teddy Bridgewater

Bridgewater is a free agent once again this offseason and everybody knows what he brings to the table. He's a low-ceiling, medium-floor quarterback. Any team with him under center will not be godawful, but it likely won't be great either. He had a solid year in Denver this past season, going 7-7 while eclipsing 3,000 yards passing and throwing 18 touchdowns against seven interceptions. A concussion knocked him out of the final three games of the year and ended any hope the Broncos had of making a push for the Wild Card. Bridgewater is who he is at this point. He's never going to put up huge numbers, he won't make many back-breaking mistakes, and he struggles in the red zone due to a lack of zip on his passes. Easy enough to scheme around, and a good second option were a team to whiff on their first choice.

Carson Wentz

The noise over the last month aggressively points to Wentz being on his third team in as many years come the start of the 2022 season. How he gets there will be a mystery, but there will surely be a larger market for his skills (and flaws) now that Rodgers is officially not an option. We all know who Wentz is at this point. The man is capable of winning and losing football games in equal measure. It just depends on which version of Wentz shows up. He's infuriating, to be sure, but his best moments are better than your average starter. Someone will take a chance on Wentz and believe they will be the ones to fix him. They'll probably be wrong, but his talent is too enticing to pass up on, especially given how weak the QB draft class is this year.