Free Agency Winners and Losers: Quarterbacks

Dustin Ludke takes a look at the Quarterbacks whose stock has improved and those whose stock decreased based on NFL free agency.

The quarterback position is the most important for a team. For fantasy, it can make or break your fantasy season. Redraft, dynasty, Superflex, and 4 or 6 points per touchdown are all factors that play into when you draft or trade for a quarterback. Knowing whose fantasy outlooks got better and whose got worse over free agency can impact who you may want to target.




Russell Wilson: Denver Broncos


Before free agency even started, Russell Wilson won when the Broncos ownership traded for head coach Sean Payton. After a disappointing year with Nathaniel Hackett as head coach Russ gets an upgrade. Then the Broncos went out and added protection for Wilson. They signed right tackle Mike McGlinchey and guard Ben Powers. Both rate well on Powers is better at pass blocking rating at 86.5 while McGlinchey rates better as a run blocker at 73.3. Both should add much-needed protection for Wilson who was sacked 55 times in 2022. Then to add to his protection they also signed one of the best blocking tight ends Chris Manhertz. He not only provides protection but allows sophomore star tight end Greg Dulcich to run more routes. The Broncos also added pass-catching back Samaje Perine to give Wilson another weapon. It’s been a huge upgrade for Mr. Unlimited who looks to bounce back in 2023.


Jimmy Garoppolo: Las Vegas Raiders


It’s hard not to say a guy who lost his starting job to an unproven rookie and then lands not only on a team as the surefire starter but also on an offense he is familiar with. Jimmy Garoppolo goes to the Raiders and reunites with head coach Josh McDaniels. The Raiders also signed wide receiver Jakobi Meyers to give Jimmy G another weapon across the field from Davante Adams. Jimmy Garopp0lo gets a chance to show that he is still the quarterback that led the 49ers to the Superbowl just four seasons ago. The Raiders did trade away tight end Darren Waller but should be addressing that position either later in free agency or in the draft. Derek Carr threw for 24 touchdowns last year and finished as the fantasy QB17. The now former 49er and Patriot quarterback is at worst a lateral move talent wise so he should be able to be a borderline QB1 in fantasy.


Desmond Ridder: Atlanta Falcons


The Atlanta Falcons drafted Desmond Ridder last year in the third round to possibly be the next franchise quarterback. He didn’t get his chance to start until Week 15 and didn’t show any real signs of progress till the last week of the season when he threw his first two professional touchdowns. Since the season ended the NFL talk has been that Atlanta could and probably should be in the market for a franchise quarterback. The NFC South was such an easy division to win that if Atlanta brought in Aaron Rodgers or Lamar Jackson they would be the odds-on favorites to win the division. No one was even talking about Ridder as a possible starting option. Then the Falcons’ rival, the Saints signed Derek Carr and took the presumed crown from the Falcons. Once Lamar Jackson was franchise tagged the Falcons were on top of everyone’s list of teams that should make a play for him. A week later and the Falcons decided to go in another direction and signed former Commanders quarterback Taylor Heinickie to a 2-year $14 million deal. It was a clear sign to Ridder and the rest of the NFL universe that they do plan to stick with Ridder as the starter and if he falters they are okay with Heinickie as the backup. He is a clear winner. The Falcons also re-signed starting tackle Kaleb McGary and traded for Jonnu Smith. The Falcons will get back their star wideout Drake London and pass-catching tight end Kyle Pitts which are two weapons for Ridder to have while he develops.




Lamar Jackson: Baltimore Ravens


It’s been a wild ride for the one-time MVP. Lamar Jackson, who is representing himself, got the non-exclusive franchise tag. That allows him to negotiate with other teams but if they agree to a deal the Ravens have five days to match. It has been radio silent since then. Reports from teams around the league are that they don’t want to do the work for the Ravens. Lamar also lost his offensive coordinator in Greg Roman and the Ravens hired Todd Monken. If/when Lamar returns to Baltimore he will have to learn a new system even if it is tailored around his skill set. Lamar then saw other possible starting situations start to dry up. Heading into free agency there were up to 12 teams looking for their 2023 starter. Now that list is down to half as long as teams have signed veterans or moved up in the draft. Lamar may not get the contract he is looking for and even worse he might be unintentionally handcuffing the Ravens from signing weapons for him when he does suit back up.


Jameis Winston: New Orleans Saints


In 2o19 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jameis Winston threw for 33 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. He then went on and got LASIK eye surgery. He was let go by the Bucs and signed on to be the backup for the Saints and Drew Brees. It’s a role Winston still holds to this day. He was plagued with injuries in 2021 and 2022 and that let Andy Dalton take over last season. He had the opportunity to hit the free agent market this year and he looked primed to move on, even more so after the Saints went out and signed Derek Carr to be their starter. Instead of possibly finding greener and possibly more startable pastures Winston stayed on the be the backup in New Orleans. To top all of that, all-around gadget player and sometimes quarterback Taysom Hill reworked his contract to stay with the team and create cap space. The hopes of another season of Winston chucking the ball 600+ times seem like it will never happen.


Brock Purdy: San Francisco 49ers


What Brock Purdy did last season was amazing. Going from the last man drafted to leading his team to the NFC Championship game is nothing short of remarkable. Only a few months later and things have turned. Purdy had to undergo surgery on his elbow which is projected to keep him out for six months. That puts him cleared for games right at the start of the season. He will likely not be ready to throw until late into training camp. He was already going to have to fend off Trey Lance if he wanted to be the starter. The injury timetable doesn’t leave a ton of room for setbacks. The 49ers then went ahead and signed Sam Darnold. Most see this as a fill-in till Purdy is ready. If Lance can’t start the season Darnold will have a chance to show what he can do on that offense and possibly keep Purdy lower on the depth chart. That offense is designed to help quarterbacks succeed so there is a good chance Lance and Darnold could have good showings before Purdy even gets a chance to get back under center. The offensive line also lost two starters Mike McGlinchey and Daniel Brunskil. That’s not something that is so easily replaced. That could affect how well all the quarterbacks do as a whole.



Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Redler (@reldernitsuj on Twitter)

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