With the 2022 NFL Draft just around the corner, most teams have their quarterback situations solved, at least temporarily, entering the new season. And the few still actively looking for help under center may target one of this year's top prospects. But where does that leave Baker Mayfield and Jimmy Garoppolo, the two remaining big-name veterans perceived to be available?
While Mayfield's split from the Browns is inevitable after Cleveland's polarizing blockbuster trade for Deshaun Watson, with CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora reporting Monday the former No. 1 overall pick could be dealt before the draft, neither he nor Garoppolo is in high demand. With that in mind, here's an updated look at their respective markets:
Are both QBs locks to be traded?
Not necessarily. While both Mayfield and Garoppolo are safe bets to play elsewhere in 2022, it's entirely feasible one -- or both -- could be released. The former was on shaky terms with Cleveland even before the team finalized a record commitment to the embattled Watson. The Browns aren't going to pay him the $18.9 million he's due in 2022 to sit unhappily on the bench, especially after already adding Jacoby Brissett as the backup/emergency starter. So if they can't find takers, they may well cut him.
The potential Garoppolo outcomes with the 49ers, meanwhile, probably fall in this order: 1.) traded, 2.) kept, 3.) cut. San Francisco can't keep him at his $26.9M figure and start former first-rounder Trey Lance in 2022, and no matter what, Jimmy G's shoulder surgery may force them to eat some of his deal to facilitate a move. But he feels more likely than Mayfield to actually return to his current team, even if it's at a reduced salary and/or playing second fiddle to Lance's takeover.
What is each QB worth?
Not a whole lot right now. The QB market has largely been inflated this offseason: Seattle netted four picks and three players, including two first-rounders, for Russell Wilson; Houston netted five picks, including three firsts, for Watson; and the Colts essentially got a pair of third-rounders for Carson Wentz. Even so, it's hard to imagine any team surrendering more than a single mid-round pick, at most, for either Mayfield or Garoppolo.
Mayfield is young (26), with playoff experience, at a reasonable price for a rental and potential long-term starter, but why give up anything of significant value for what amounts to a top-20 placeholder on an expiring contract? Garoppolo, meanwhile, has proven to be slightly safer -- an efficient top-15ish starter for playoff contenders -- but is older (30), has likely reached his ceiling and is consistently battling injuries. They may have fetched some combo of Day Two and Day Three picks -- perhaps a second and fifth, or something along those lines -- at the very start of the offseason, but the QB vacancies have filled up.
At this point, the most likely scenario for either QB being dealt is their inclusion in a swap of draft picks. Think the Browns' Amari Cooper deal, in which Cleveland absorbed the ex-Cowboys wide receiver's contract in exchange for a fifth-round pick and swap of sixths. Dallas got cap space and a minor token of draft capital; Cleveland got the proven player.
Which teams could be interested?
Consider these the only logical or potential suitors at the moment:
- Jaguars: This one only applies to Garoppolo, who could potentially give Doug Pederson and the new staff a more experienced backup for Trevor Lawrence. Pederson knows the value of a clutch No. 2 -- a role currently held by C.J. Beathard.
- Jets: Mayfield doesn't fit here, and with Joe Flacco back as the No. 2, maybe neither does Garoppolo. But what if Flacco, 37, gets hurt? Some top staffers know Jimmy G well from San Francisco, and he might make a solid mentor for Zach Wilson.
- Lions: Jared Goff already gives them a middling veteran placeholder at QB, but Garoppolo is arguably a touch more reliable when healthy, and Mayfield brings the moxie that coach Dan Campbell might appreciate. Still, they're probably more likely to lean on Goff and/or draft his successor.
- Panthers: They're one of the few teams to badly need a new QB and completely fail to add to the position thus far. They're consensus favorites to draft a signal-caller early, though, so Mayfield and Garoppolo would be last-minute fallbacks.
- Raiders: Another one just for Garoppolo, who has ties to new coach Josh McDaniels from their time with the Patriots. The Raiders are all in on Derek Carr in 2022, but considering the big ways they've built the team to win now, who's to say they wouldn't be interested in shoring up the backup spot, currently held by Nick Mullens?
- Seahawks: The 49ers aren't going to jump at the chance to ship Garoppolo to their division rivals, but Mayfield makes sense in Seattle for several reasons. Post-Russell Wilson, Pete Carroll could use a QB who knows how to lean on the run game, and adding Baker to compete with Drew Lock wouldn't preclude them from drafting another signal-caller as well.
- Texans: Second-year man Davis Mills is primed to get a full audition for the job, but they could explore competition. Garoppolo doesn't feel like the right fit for a team in transition, but Mayfield, who's from Texas, could be a low-risk, high-reward bet.