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NFL Free Agency: Ranking the Top 5 Free Agent Quarterbacks in 2022

With the 2021 season well into the second half, some teams are starting to be eliminated from playoff contention, allowing them to turn their eye toward 2022. What will the quarterback market look like for those teams in need of a replacement behind center?
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NFL Free Agency: Ranking the Top 5 Free Agent Quarterbacks in 2022

The end of the NFL season is just around the corner. That means so is NFL Draft and Free Agency talk. So, we brought in NFL expert Brett Oswalt to take a look at some of the best players available in free agency at each position, starting with quarterbacks.

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5. Colt McCoy, Arizona Cardinals

Unlike the other four names that appear here, McCoy is more locked into a backup role than vying for -- or even falling into -- a starting role at this point in his career. And I'm sure that's absolutely fine in his eyes. After all, he's making more than $1.2 million to operate as Kyler Murray's backup this season, not to mention in one of the league's best and most quarterback-friendly offenses. In the time he has spent in relief of Murray, he's really shown his veteran presence, as he has gone 2-1 with at least 249 passing yards in two of three, and for a 103.2 quarterback rating.

Given he's so comfortable in his role in Arizona, it seems unlikely McCoy moves to another team as a similar backup presence. If he were to change his jersey for the sixth time in his career, teams with a somewhat young quarterback would be at the top of the list. The top three candidates could consist of the Bears, Bengals and Jets.

4. Trevor Siemian, New Orleans Saints

Among the top four, Siemian is the unlikeliest name to secure a starting gig. The five-year veteran was a late draft pick that only made a name for himself for a brief time in Denver, which failed to result in a ton of success. Still, he has been a starter in the league (29 total starts), and after being picked up by the Saints in September he has proceeded to draw four starts and five appearances in relief of those before him. Siemian's lost four of the five, but he does have a very respectable nine touchdowns to only three picks, all while he's averaged 217 yards per game.

At 31, Siemian is most likely to sign with a team that favors their current option to start, but one that wouldn't be afraid to turn to a steady option if their situation does not pan out. This potential list of teams could include his current team, as well as the Steelers, Lions, Panthers and Texans. In all likelihood, he would be looking at one-year prove-it deal at a low cost.

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3. Andy Dalton, Chicago Bears

The top three quarterbacks all have at least one Pro Bowl appearance to their credit, but Dalton is the only one that's done it on three different occasions. He is as accomplished as anyone in the market at his position (if we aren't counting Ben Roethlisberger, who is likely to retire a Steeler), having racked up 76 wins to 68 losses and 2 ties. He also accounted for four win-less playoff starts in his time in Cincinnati back in 2011 through 2014. Back in his prime, Dalton had his inconsistencies, but he's been at least capable since -- especially when you consider the (lack of) quality of other starters around the league. He's 2-2 as a starter with a 79.9 quarterback rating this year.

Dalton was overcome by the shear hype and promise around Justin Fields in Chicago, and while he'll walk away happy with his money, he could back into another opportunity depending on the team. Absent a big addition in the draft, a lower-caliber team like the Texans could pay slightly above asking price for a veteran quarterback. Although, he might just be happy in more of a backup role on a contending team. In that case, keep an eye on the Bills and Titans, among others.

2. Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints

Winston found himself in an eerily similar situation just two years ago, and he opted to take a short deal to prove himself again behind Drew Brees. And again, he returned back to New Orleans only to be handcuffed by a missing Michael Thomas and lackluster offensive talent (not named Alvin Kamara) around him. He started seven games to start the year before being placed on injured reserve with a torn ACL in his knee. Winston had played full-on game manager, attempting 30 or more passes just twice and throwing for more than 200 yards three times. He did, however, show a much-improved quarterback rating (102.8) behind a 14-touchdown to 3-interception ratio over his time at the helm for Sean Payton and company.

Winston has a road ahead that involves rehab and an odds-on late start to the 2022 season. Still, quarterbacks have bounced back from this injury to play well from inside the pocket, and he could too with a solid line in front of him. Teams that could afford to be patient on Winston to either step in and start or be a top-tier backup include the Football Team, Dolphins and Panthers.

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1. Teddy Bridgewater, Denver Broncos

Don't look now, but Bridgewater might just be playing his best football since that short five-game stint with the Saints. Over 13 starts this season, his quarterback rating of 96.5 was only topped by that year in New Orleans and is nearly 10 points better than his sophomore season with the Vikings. For a third straight year, he's completed more than 67% of his passes in route to nearly 3,000 yards, 18 touchdowns and 7 picks. He is averaging a respectable 6.38 adjusted net yards per attempt and has the Broncos in line for a wild card chance at 7-6. All at just 29 years old, what more can you ask for in a solid starter?

As most people expect them to do, if the Broncos look to get in on Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson, or even turn their attention to getting a top selection in the draft, Bridgewater will be out of a job after a career year. It's hard to put less than 70% odds on him not being a starter elsewhere come Week 1 of next season. The same usual suspects should be vying for his services -- from bottom-feeders like the Texans to talented-yet-conflicted teams like the Panthers and Steelers. The Saints might also come calling for a reunion of sorts in 2022.


Brett Oswalt has been writing about sports for five years, has covered everything from the NBA to College Football DFS, and previously served as an editor at numberFire. He is a Senior Workforce Planning Analyst at Highmark by day, and an avid sports fan and girl-dad by night. He resides in Pittsburgh, PA with his wife, Marley, daughter, Aria, and goldendoodle, Braun.


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