The 2023 NFL quarterback carousel promises to be active this season with Aaron Rodgers, Lamar Jackson and Derek Carr already being floated in NFL trade rumors. Considering blockbuster quarterback moves are a staple of the offseason calendar, we’ll see more big moves in 2023.
Just a year ago, the Denver Broncos acquired Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan landed with the Indianapolis Colts, Carson Wentz was shipped to the Washington Commanders and the Cleveland Browns paid a historic price to land Deshaun Watson. While none of those teams made the playoffs, the Los Angeles Rams’ success with Matthew Stafford will compel clubs to roll the dice with a headline-making move.
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Aaron Rodgers traded to New York Jets
Rodgers is expected to return for the 2023 season, but there is increasing skepticism that he ever plays another snap for the Green Bay Packers. After failing to make the playoffs in 2022, with tight salary-cap constraints, the team is no longer in a position to contend for a Super Bowl. Already destined for a rebuild, the Packers might as well hit the reset button now.
Influencing Rodgers’ decision won’t be difficult. If the Packers make it clear Marcedes Lewis and Randall Cobb won’t return next season, signaling a rebuild, Rodgers will request a trade. There will be limited suitors, considering his contract and age, but the New York Jets are a natural fit.
- Green Bay Packers trade: Aaron Rodgers
- New York Jets trade: 43rd overall pick, conditional 2024 second-round pick
Because Rodgers threatens to retire every offseason and his contract eats up exorbitant cap space, the return in a trade is far more limited than one might expect. New York parts with the 43rd overall pick and a conditional 2024 selection that becomes a first-round pick if Rodgers plays in the 2024 season. It provides the Jets with some level of protection and Green Bay gets something for its future Hall of Famer.
By designating Rodgers as a post-June 1 trade, Green Bay leaves itself with a -$68.2 million cap charge in 2024. It’s an expensive bullet for the team to bite, but it was always inevitable. The trade lets the Packers see what they’ve got in Jordan Love for the next two seasons. As for the Jets, they land a quarterback who plays up to the talent around him and helps take this team to the playoffs.
New Orleans Saints acquire Derek Carr
The Las Vegas Raiders are ready to find a new franchise quarterback, something that felt inevitable when Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler arrived. While there are a variety of possibilities for the club, trading Carr is the first priority.
Any return for the Pro Bowl quarterback is limited by his contract and $40 million that becomes guaranteed on Feb. 15. NFL teams know they hold leverage over Las Vegas, even if there are multiple suitors for the Raiders’ quarterback.
- Las Vegas Raiders send: Derek Carr, $8.5 million cash
- New Orleans Saints send: 112th overall pick, 2024 3rd
Carr is a perfect fit in New Orleans. The Saints’ target list is dramatically shortened without a 2023 first-round pick and -$50 million in cap space. As for Carr, he is at his best when playing indoors and that makes him a natural fit for the NFC South with plenty of starts in a dome or in warm climates late in the year.
New Orleans lands its best quarterback since Drew Brees, adding an accurate passer who can make smart decisions and get the football out quickly to Michael Thomas and Chris Olave. As for Las Vegas, it clears Carr’s contract off its books and lands draft capital to strengthen the roster.
Carolina Panthers swing blockbuster Lamar Jackson trade
The Baltimore Ravens will place the franchise tag on Jackson this offseason and then dive into contract negotiations. Based on everything that happened over the past year, ranging from the organization’s frustration to John Harbaugh drawing criticism for his comments, a resolution is far from guaranteed.
If Jackson doesn’t want to commit to a long-term extension, instead opting for the Kirk Cousins‘ path to free agency, Baltimore could be pushed past its limit. As of now, that seems to be the growing expectation around the NFL.
- Carolina Panthers acquire: Lamar Jackson
- Baltimore Ravens acquire: 9th overall pick, 40th pick, 61st pick, 2024 1st & 2nd, 2025 1st
The Carolina Panthers are the perfect trade partner for Baltimore. Dealing with owner David Tepper keeps Jackson out of the AFC, limiting his opportunities to play the Ravens. For Baltimore’s front office, Carolina is also the franchise most desperate for a superstar quarterback.
From the Panthers’ perspective, landing a NFL MVP is worth just about any price set by the Ravens. The NFC South is up for grabs and Jackson would make Carolina an immediate NFC contender. While this deal requires a one-year rebuild for Baltimore, it could be in a position to draft Caleb Williams or Drake Maye in 2024.
Washington Commanders acquire Trey Lance
The San Francisco 49ers are never recouping what they gave up to acquire Trey Lance. It was always a gamble to spend three first-round picks on a quarterback who made just one start in his final FCS season. Two years later, San Francisco looks far better off with Brock Purdy than it ever did with Lance or Jimmy Garoppolo.
If Purdy becomes the 49ers’ starting quarterback next season, receiving overwhelming support from the locker room and coaching staff, Lance could try and force his way out. While San Francisco could keep him, the 2023 offseason might be its last opportunity to trade him and still receive quality compensation in return.
- San Francisco 49ers receive: 47th overall pick, conditional. 2024 third-round pick
- Washington Commanders receive: Trey Lance
Lance isn’t worth a first-round pick at this point. He remains unproven and the reports out of training camp suggested there were still alarming accuracy problems. With only 102 career pass attempts in the NFL, another season spent backing up Purdy would further hurt his trade value.
The Washington Commanders can package a top-50 pick and a conditional 2024 pick to roll the dice on Lance. If he starts 80% of the Commanders’ snaps in 2023, it becomes a second-round pick. Furthermore, it would increase to a 2024 first-round pick if Washington makes the playoffs and Lance meets the snaps threshold. Considering Lance’s rushing ability, he could be an ideal fit for the offense Ron Rivera wants the Commanders to use moving forward.
Indianapolis Colts trade up for Bryce Young
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay became heavily involved in football operations this past season. It’s a direct result of his frustration with the quarterback spot, a position that became a revolving door of stop-gap solutions following Andrew Luck’s retirement.
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Desperation leads to teams taking chances. Colts’ general manager Chris Ballard knows his job is on the line, which puts him in a situation where he needs to land a potential franchise quarterback. That’s something the Chicago Bears would like to take advantage of.
- Indianapolis Colts trade: 4th overall pick, 35th overall pick, 99th pick and 2024 1st
- Chicago Bears trade: Bryce Young (1st overall pick)
Indianapolis might be better off keeping its draft picks and hoping C.J. Stroud falls in its lap. However, the hot seat doesn’t allow decision-makers to be patient. Acquiring the No. 1 pick lets the Colts pick their quarterback and Bryce Young is widely viewed as the No. 1 player in 2023 NFL Draft QB rankings. He steps in immediately as the starting quarterback and could instantly put Indianapolis in a position to contend for the playoffs.