The quarterback carousel will be spinning again soon, and no division figures to be more impacted than the NFC South. It’s reasonable to assume that all four teams will have a new starter in the 2023 NFL season.
The winner of the worst division in the NFC could finish with a losing record. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers might wind up in the playoffs with the worst Tom Brady-led team we’ve ever seen.
Here’s a look at the shaky quarterback situations in the terrible NFC South:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-8)
Marco Wilson is having a Merry Christmas. He gets Tom Brady for the second time. pic.twitter.com/OOnVwl9w8M— The Comeback (@thecomeback) December 26, 2022
Tom Brady will be a free agent, and it seems unlikely he’ll return. At 45, he has two options: retire or make another run at a team that’s a quarterback away. Where does that leave Tampa Bay? Brady’s probable departure may lead to changes in the coaching staff and the front office. Assuming coach Todd Bowles and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich are back, the Buccaneers could still field a good team in 2023. A banged-up offensive line has been the cause of most of their problems. Wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin remain productive, and the defense is solid. Tampa Bay seems like the ideal landing spot for a veteran quarterback. But replacing Brady is an impossible act to follow.
Carolina Panthers (6-9)
Now that's a start! pic.twitter.com/wUflHN6LAm— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) December 24, 2022
Interim coach Steve Wilks deserves a medal for salvaging what could have easily been a lost season. If Carolina wins its final two games, including this weekend’s showdown with Tampa Bay, it will clinch the division title. The Panthers have started Baker Mayfield, P.J. Walker, and Sam Darnold at quarterback. That trio has combined for 13 touchdown passes and nine interceptions. Mayfield’s gone, and Darnold (four touchdowns, 0 interceptions over four starts) has been serviceable. Carolina has a good running attack, a strong offensive line, and a solid defense. An upgrade at quarterback could propel them into being a 12-win team next season. Going with Matt Corral, who sat out his rookie year due to injury, seems like a long shot.
New Orleans Saints (6-9)
ANDY DALTON TO CHRIS OLAVE 🎯— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 20, 2022
As mentioned previously, there are a lot of Brady rumors. One has Brady and Sean Payton going to New Orleans. That would be fascinating and challenging since the Saints have been in salary-cap hell the past few seasons. According to Spotrac, the Saints will have the least salary cap space in 2023 for any team. That usually leads to young, cheap players or bargain-basement-priced veterans. How much of a discount would Brady be willing to take? Regardless, it’s clear that there will be a change at quarterback. Andy Dalton is on a one-year deal, and it looks like the franchise is ready to move on from Jameis Winston. If Brady isn’t an option, Jimmy Garoppolo or Geno Smith might be good fits.
Atlanta Falcons (5-10)
Desmond Ridder made some great throws against the Ravens. He was a lot better this week ! #Falcons #Ravens #NFL pic.twitter.com/I30bkEF0vN— TheFlyingHighPodcast (@FlyingHighpod) December 25, 2022
Atlanta is the most intriguing team on the list. It seemed obvious that the Falcons were punting on 2022 when they traded away Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts and absorbed a record $40.5 million cap hit for this year. The problem is thatt the Falcons may surpass their preseason win total of five. That was the second-lowest, only ahead of the Houston Texans (4.5). As a result, it might not be high enough in the draft to select coveted young passers like Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, or Will Levis. It might have to trade up with either the Chicago Bears, Arizona Cardinals, or Seattle Seahawks (who own the Denver Broncos’ pick). Arthur Smith is going into his third season as coach. It’s hard to imagine him entering next year with Desmond Ridder, a third-rounder from the 2022 draft, at the helm.