(Audacy) Welcome to Audacy Sports' countdown of the top 32 quarterbacks ahead of the 2022 NFL season.
Before we get to our countdown, here are a couple notes of what went into creating this list.
-- There was a heavy focus on how these quarterbacks performed in the last two seasons and an effort to form a projection of what that will mean for 2022. How Tom Brady, for example, may have played in 2009 isn't especially relevant here.
-- This isn't just a ranking of the top 32 quarterbacks likely to be Week 1 starters. Not every team has a quarterback on this countdown.
With all that acknowledged, here are the top 32 quarterbacks for 2022.
32. Teddy Bridgewater, Miami Dolphins
Bridgewater edged out the likes of Davis Mills and Drew Lock to claim the final spot. He's best-geared to be a backup but has extensive playing experience. If Tua Tagovailoa slips up or gets injured, Bridgewater will step in with the best supporting cast that he's had since he played in New Orleans.
31. Jared Goff, Detroit Lions
Last year: No. 26
As the Los Angeles Rams marched to a Super Bowl title in their first year post-Goff, you got the sense that the Lions were taking their medicine with the former No. 1 overall pick until a better option emerged and/or they could get out of his contract. Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jameson Williams will form one of the most exciting young wide receiving duos in the NFL, and T.J. Hockenson is one of the better tight ends in the sport. With an improving roster around him, Goff will need to have a big year to avoid the Lions releasing him after 2022, when he would leave a manageable $10 million in dead cap money.
30. Marcus Mariota, Atlanta Falcons
Last year: Not on list
In their failed attempt to land Deshaun Watson, the Falcons burned the bridge with Matt Ryan, who was ultimately traded to the Indianapolis Colts. That means that Mariota -- reunited with Arthur Smith -- will get a second shot to start in the NFL. The former No. 2 overall pick did have some impressive moments in brief glimpses with the Las Vegas Raiders over the last two seasons. But beyond Kyle Pitts, Cordarrelle Patterson and first-round pick Drake London, there's just not much in the way of talent around a player who once seemed destined to be one of the next great quarterbacks in the NFL.
29. Mitchell Trubisky, Pittsburgh Steelers
Last year: Not on list
Perhaps seeing Matt Nagy struggle with another young quarterback in 2021 made you appreciate that Trubisky -- while definitely a terrible pick at No. 2 overall -- helped guide the Bears to the playoffs in two out of his three seasons with his former head coach. After spending a gap year in Buffalo, Trubisky will likely open the 2022 season as the starter in Pittsburgh. Kenny Pickett is looming, but Trubisky should benefit from no longer being compared to Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. And frankly, he's probably going to be an upgrade over what Ben Roethlisberger was in his final NFL season.
28. Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers
Last year: No. 22
2022 may turn into a lost year for Garoppolo, given that the 49ers have moved onto Trey Lance but are yet to find a taker for Garoppolo, who has struggled to stay healthy at points in his career and has unquestionably benefitted from getting to play in Kyle Shanahan's system. But there's something to the fact that he has played in a Super Bowl and two NFC Championship games, and his teammates really do seem to enjoy playing with him. Whether he's a starter anywhere this season, Garoppolo is definitely one of the 32 best quarterbacks in the league.
27. Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers
Last year: No. 31
The 49ers liked the raw tools that Lance had at North Dakota State enough to trade all the way up to No. 3 and select him in the 2021 NFL Draft. Now, it's time to see if the 22-year-old Lance -- after a rookie season in which he continued to look very much like an unfinished product as a passer in his limited playing time -- can be molded into a top-tier quarterback by Kyle Shanahan.
26. Justin Fields, Chicago Bears
Last year: Not on list
Fields is the most electric rusher at the quarterback position outside of Lamar Jackson. But while you saw some positive flashes from him as a passer in his rookie season, Fields ultimately tossed seven touchdowns to 10 interceptions. Nagy is out, but the Bears hired a defensive-minded head coach in Matt Eberflus. The offensive talent around him might be the worst in the league. With the regime that traded up to draft Fields gone, you wonder how hell-bent Ryan Poles and a new front office are on making sure Fields pans out as the franchise quarterback.
25. Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins
Last year: No. 29
It's been a turbulent first two seasons in the NFL for Tagovailoa, and you wonder if he'll ever be able to step out of the shadow of Justin Herbert, whom the Dolphins bypassed to select Tagovailoa in the 2020 NFL Draft. Fortunately, in what projects to be a make-or-break season in Miami, the Dolphins have surrounded Tagovailoa with an excellent support system. Mike McDaniel -- freshly plucked from the Shanahan coaching tree -- has taken over as head coach. And on top of Jaylen Waddle and Mike Gesicki, the Dolphins added Tyreek Hill, Cedrick Wilson, Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert to the mix of weapons at Tagovailoa's disposal.
24. Daniel Jones, New York Giants
Last year: No. 24
Jones' mobility and ability to throw the deep ball are traits that new head coach Brian Daboll will attempt to tap into, but part of you thinks that the former first-round pick may be getting a competent organization around him too late to save his tenure in New York. Jones has 36 fumbles in three NFL seasons and unless that flaw can be corrected, he might be destined for a career as a top-end backup.
23. Carson Wentz, Washington Commanders
Last year: No. 17
Now five years removed from nearly winning NFL MVP, Wentz is on his third team in as many seasons. While Wentz tossed 27 touchdowns to seven interceptions in 2021 in his lone season with the Indianapolis Colts, he fumbled the ball eight times and continued with a trend that has plagued him for much of his career -- he doesn't know when to live to see another down. The former No. 2 overall pick's athleticism also isn't what it was when he first entered the league, which is a scary combination. If Wentz can't work it out in D.C., he may be out of the league in relatively short order.
22. Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles
Last year: No. 28
Hurts has proved to be one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in terms of mobility, as he ran for 784 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2021. He has done a good job of limiting turnovers through the air, but the Eagles still need to see whether he's capable of going blow-for-blow as a passer with one of the sport's elite quarterbacks in a big moment. By all accounts, Hurts' intangibles are off the charts. Now, with A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert all at his disposal, Hurts needs to take a significant step forward as a passer in his third NFL season.
21. Zach Wilson, New York Jets
Last year: No. 21
There were some really low moments in Wilson's rookie season, but he also flashed enough for you to believe that he does indeed have that dog in him. Yes, we're concerned that with Mekhi Becton out for the season, Wilson may have some games in which his offensive line doesn't give him a chance to be successful. With that said, the additions of Garrett Wilson, Breece Hall and C.J. Uzomah should help Wilson to make positive strides in 2022, and Joe Douglas generally seems to have the team on the right track.
20. Mac Jones, New England Patriots
Last year: No. 23
Jones was by far the most impressive rookie quarterback a season ago, tossing 22 touchdowns to 13 interceptions en route to finishing runner-up in Offensive Rookie of the Year Voting. Jones doesn't have the type of ceiling that the two quarterbacks he's wedged in between on this list do, and it's concerning that Matt Patricia may be the successor to Josh McDaniels as the play-caller in New England. But Jones has passed every test to this point in his football career, and Bill Belichick has earned the benefit of the doubt in terms of knowing how to build a winning program.
19. Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars
Last year: No. 20
As far as we're concerned, you can pretty much throw away Lawrence's disappointing rookie season, which was largely a product of Urban Meyer's disastrous -- and brief -- NFL stint. Lawrence has immense talent and now an adult in the room at head coach in Doug Pederson. With the additions of Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, Evan Engram, Brandon Scherff and his former Clemson teammate Travis Etienne, Lawrence is set up to take a big jump in his second season.
18. Baker Mayfield, Carolina Panthers
Last year: No. 12
Mayfield struggled mightily in his final season in Cleveland, getting picked off 13 times in a campaign marred by a left shoulder injury that he probably shouldn't have played through. Make no mistake though, Mayfield played at a high level in his rookie season of 2018 and again in helping the Browns to win a playoff game in the 2020 season. With Matt Rhule on the hottest seat of any coach in the NFL, Carolina perhaps wasn't the most stable landing spot for the former No. 1 overall pick. But in a contract year, Mayfield will have to make the best of the situation as he fights for his NFL future.
17. Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints
Last year: No. 16
Prior to tearing his ACL in Week 8 in 2021, Winston had thrown 14 touchdowns to three interceptions for the Saints. Gone is Sean Payton, but just about all of his coaching staff remained in place in New Orleans. The Saints also drafted Chris Olave, signed Jarvis Landry and should have a healthy Michael Thomas for the first time since 2019. Winston, a former No. 1 overall pick, has perhaps never been set up better for success.
16. Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans
Last year: No. 11
The Titans have had quite a bit of regular-season success with Tannehill, who tossed 21 touchdowns and ran for another seven in 2021. However, it's fair to wonder whether they've determined that they've reached their ceiling, especially in a loaded AFC, with him as their quarterback. It seems possible that 2022 will be Tannehill's final season as the starter for the Titans, with rookie Malik Willis looming.
15. Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns
Last year: Not on list
Watson wasn't on the list a year ago because we weren't sure he would play, and at the time of publication, we were waiting to see if Peter Harvey will increase the six-game suspension that he received for 2022 from Judge Sue L. Robinson. At his best, Watson is a top-five quarterback. But he hasn't played football since the 2020 season, and it's hard to know what to expect if and when he returns in 2022.
14. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
Last year: No. 18
For whatever limitations that Cousins has, any suggestion that he's a bad quarterback isn't connected to reality. In four seasons with the Vikings, Cousins has tossed 124 touchdowns to 36 interceptions. Cousins has an excellent supporting cast with Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, Alexander Mattison and K.J. Osborn. In his first year with new head coach Kevin O'Connell, Cousins may put up the best statistical season of his career.
13. Matt Ryan, Indianapolis Colts
Last year: No. 14
The former NFL MVP Ryan continued to put up excellent numbers in Atlanta the past few seasons -- despite an increasingly poor supporting cast. The Colts are hardly loaded with proven pass catchers but have an excellent defense and reigning rushing champion Jonathan Taylor. A change of scenery should do Ryan, who's now 37, well.
12. Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders
Last year: No. 15
The leadership that Carr displayed helping lead the Raiders to the postseason a year ago despite a variety of season-altering distractions was commendable. You worry a bit about him switching offenses when he seemed to have mastered Jon Gruden's system, but Josh McDaniels is one of the best offensive minds in the league and Carr has an excellent trio of pass catchers in Darren Waller, Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow. Unfortunately for Carr, he's the lowest-ranked quarterback in the AFC West.
11. Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
Last year: No. 5
Murray and the Cardinals had a rather disastrous finish to the 2022 season, but the former No. 1 overall pick still managed to lead the team to the playoffs in his third season. Arizona rewarded Murray with a five-year, $230.5-million deal, which guarantees him $160 million. With no contract distraction and a wide-open NFC, Murray figures to climb back into the top 10 -- at a minimum -- with his play in 2022.
10. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
Last year: No. 8
Jackson was limited to 12 games a season ago and was picked off 13 times, so he's hoping for a relative rebound in 2022. Still, he's building a resume as perhaps the most prolific mobile quarterback the league has ever seen and has generally taken care of the ball pretty well as a passer. If Jackson and the Ravens don't reach a long-term deal before the season, you'd have to think some other teams may begin to ponder whether they could pry him away from the Ravens next offseason, when they'll be forced to use the franchise tag on him.
9. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
Last year: No. 9
Prescott threw for a career-high 4,449 yards in 2021, quickly making you forget that he was coming off of a devastating right ankle injury. Amari Cooper, Cedrick Wilson and La'el Collins are gone, which does make you wonder if the Cowboys have gotten worse as a team since last year. But Prescott figures to continue to produce at an extremely high level in what's likely a make-or-break year for Mike McCarthy.
8. Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams
Last year: No. 7
Some of the developments that have come out of Rams training camp regarding Stafford's elbow are concerning. But if he's healthy, Stafford should only continue to grow in his second season with Sean McVay. Whether you think his first Super Bowl win makes Stafford a slam dunk for Canton, a few more elite seasons should allow him to cement his legacy.
7. Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos
Last year: No. 4
After a decade in Seattle in which Pete Carroll preferred to win games by establishing the run and playing great defense, Wilson will get the chance to be the star of the show in Denver. He and Nathaniel Hackett should be an excellent pairing, and even with Tim Patrick out for the season, Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy and Javonte Williams should give him a good offensive core for the second act of his career.
6. Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last year: No. 10
At age 45, Brady is preparing for his 23rd and potentially final NFL season. The three-time NFL MVP is coming off of a season in which he led the league in passing yards (5,316) and touchdown passes (43), so if he's still playing in five years, we wouldn't be shocked. No athlete in American sports history has had better longevity than Brady. It's truly stunning.
5. Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers
Last year: No. 6
Herbert is kind of the next evolution of Stafford: If he doesn't have the strongest arm in the NFL, it's definitely in the top five. He's more mobile than Stafford though, which makes him a dangerous dual threat. The Chargers have their work cut out in perhaps the deepest division in NFL history, but they've unquestionably found a worthy successor to Philip Rivers.
4. Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals
Last year: No. 13
The idea of a player having the "it factor" is thrown around way too frequently on sports radio, but Burrow's presence has changed the entire organization in Cincinnati. The Bengals went to the Super Bowl in his second season despite having one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. Cincinnati upgraded at center (Ted Karras), right guard (Alex Cappa) and right tackle (La'el Collins) this offseason, which will only make Burrow more of a threat to make beautiful music with Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, perhaps the best wide receiving duo in the league.
3. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Last year: No. 2
Rodgers has won back-to-back MVPs, and his four total are second in NFL history only to Peyton Manning. Obviously, the loss of Davante Adams is suboptimal, but the guess here is that Rodgers will finish in the top five in MVP voting in 2022, and it would hardly be shocking if he matches Manning by winning the honor for a fifth time.
2. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
Last year: No. 3
This will sound hyperbolic to some, but Allen may possess the greatest skill set of any quarterback in NFL history. He has the best arm in the league and has drastically improved his accuracy since being selected with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Beyond that, he can run over you as a scrambler or just outrun you. Allen isn't at the top spot, but we wouldn't balk anyone who suggests he should be.
1. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
Last year: No. 1
In four seasons as a starting quarterback, Mahomes has tossed 151 touchdowns to just 36 interceptions. It will be interesting to see how he adapts to life after Tyreek Hill, but no quarterback in NFL history has had a better start to his career.