Jacoby Brissett's 4-7 record as Browns starter was among the best of quarterbacks who changed teams in 2022.
Of seven major quarterback moves in 2022, none produced a winning record
You must have an active subscription to read this story.
Click Here to subscribe Now!
Editor's note: Tony Grossi is a Cleveland Browns analyst for TheLandOnDemand.com and 850 ESPN Cleveland. He has covered the Browns since 1984.
The NFL quarterback carousel is getting gassed up and ready to spin again.
Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Derek Carr could be on the move in the 2023 quarterback transaction season. Possibly Lamar Jackson, and others, too.
This short-cut to the Super Bowl was popularized when Brady won a ring for the Buccaneers in 2020 and Matthew Stafford did the same for the Rams in 2021.
But last year’s quarterback transaction season was largely a massive dud. The negative results may affect the coming quarterback market.
We look back at how the carousel spun and stopped last year, who made out, and who regrets their decision.
Old team: Houston Texans.
New team: Cleveland Browns.
Record as starter: 3-3.
* Traded by Texans with a 2024 sixth-round pick to the Browns for first- and fourth-round picks in 2022, first- and third-round picks in 2023, and first- and fourth-round picks in 2024.
* Signed by Browns to a fully guaranteed $230 million for five years.
Outcome: After serving an 11-game NFL suspension for violations of the league personal conduct policy, Watson inherited a 4-7 team that ranked fifth in yards per game (376.9) and 11th in points (23.9). In Watson’s six starts, the offense averaged 261. 3 yards and 11.6 points. Natural rustiness from 700 days without a live game and some inclement weather surely contributed to the offense’s demise. But Watson received more support from the Browns’ defense and special teams than his substitute, and still only managed three wins in six games. After the season, the Browns expressed optimism about Watson’s future with the team. We shall see.
Old team: Miami Dolphins.
New team: Browns.
Record as starter: 4-7.
* Signed by Browns in free agency for $4.65 million for one year.
Outcome: Despite a disappointing 4-7 record, largely due to defensive and special teams breakdowns, Brissett’s was one of the few success stories of the 2022 quarterback carousel. He impressed everyone with his selfless attitude and was called “my best teammate ever” by several members of the Browns. Brissett saved his best for last, leading a game-tying touchdown drive at the end of regulation and a game-winning drive in overtime in a triumph over Brady’s Buccaneers that had to be near the top of his personal career highlights. Playing some of the best football of his career probably will result in Brissett earning the chance to win a starting job with another team via free agency.
Old team: Seattle Seahawks.
New team: Denver Broncos.
Record as starter: 4-11.
* Traded by Seahawks with a 2022 fourth-round pick to Broncos for first-, second- and fifth-round picks in 2022; first- and second-round picks in 2023; plus quarterback Drew Lock, tight end Noah Fant and defensive tackle Shelby Harris.
* Signed by Broncos for $242.58 million over five years, including $161 million guaranteed.
Outcome: Wilson, 34, verified the Seahawks’ loss of confidence in him with a horrendous year. Wilson suffered his worst won-loss record (4-11), and posted career lows in completion percentage (60.5), touchdowns (16), passer rating (84.4), and tied for worst in interceptions (11). He was never in synch with first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett and was as responsible as any player for Hackett being fired after his 15th game. Wilson’s significant drop-off seriously smudged a career that was headed for first-ballot induction in Canton.
Old team: Atlanta Falcons.
New team: Indianapolis Colts.
Record as starter: 4-7-1.
* Traded by Falcons to Colts for 2022 second-round pick.
* Colts inherited $54 million over two years.
Outcome: After the Falcons courted Watson, Ryan asked to be traded and owner Arthur Blank complied. At 37, Ryan became the Colts’ latest hope to replace the retired Andrew Luck. Like his three predecessors, Ryan came up way short. He was demoted following a horrendous loss to Tennessee that dropped the Colts’ record to 3-3-1. After Frank Reich was fired as coach and replaced by former center and then-NFL Network analyst Jeff Saturday, Ryan was reinstated for five more starts, winning one. All of which produced the worst season in Ryan’s 15 NFL campaigns, tarnishing his Hall of Fame-worthy resume. Ryan said after the season he intended to fulfill his one remaining year on his contract, which has a $12 million guarantee.
Old team: Colts.
New team: Washington Commanders.
Record as starter: 2-5.
* Traded by Colts with second- and seventh-round picks in 2022 for second- and third-round picks in 2022 and a third-round pick in 2023.
Outcome: Wentz’s third team in three years continued a precipitous fall from near-MVP candidate in his second season to peripatetic journeyman. Wentz broke a finger on his throwing hand and required surgery after going 2-4 in his first six starts with the Commanders. In his absence, backup Taylor Heinicke captured the Commanders’ locker room and fan base in going 5-3-1 and putting the team in playoff contention. With Washington’s season on the line, coach Ron Rivera reinserted Wentz and the decision blew up in a 24-10 loss to the Browns. With over $53 million due on his contract over the next two seasons, the Commanders are expected to bail out before a $5 million guarantee is triggered on March 17.
Old team: Buffalo Bills.
New team: Pittsburgh Steelers.
Record as starter: 2-3.
* Signed by Steelers for two years and $14.28 million with $5.25 million guaranteed.
Outcome: Tribusky signed with the Steelers seeking to emulate Ryan Tannehill’s rebirth with the Tennessee Titans. It didn’t happen. Tribusky was benched in the second half of his fourth start and replaced by first-round pick Kenny Pickett. Tribusky notched a final win in his fifth start after an injury to Pickett, but is clearly out of the team’s plans. He most likely will re-enter the marketplace in 2023 in hopes of finding another opportunity to restart his career. Only 28, Trubisky has a career record of 31-24.
Old team: Las Vegas Raiders.
New team: Falcons.
Record as starter: 5-8.
* Signed by Falcons for two years and $18.75 million with $6.75 million guaranteed.
Outcome: After compiling a 5-8 record in the Falcons’ first 13 games, he was replaced by rookie second-round pick Desmond Ridder. The day after his benching, Mariota’s representation informed the Falcons he would undergo a procedure for a chronic knee injury. At the time, Mariota’s wife had a baby, and he never returned to the team.
Old team: Browns.
New teams: Carolina Panthers, Los Angeles Rams.
Record as starter: 1-5 with Panthers, 1-3 with Rams.
* Traded by Browns for a fifth-round pick in 2024.
* Claimed by Rams off waivers on Dec. 7.
Outcome: During the Browns’ courtship of Watson, Mayfield demanded a trade. He eventually agreed to a $3.5 million pay cut to make it happen. The Browns had to pay $10.5 million of his salary while the Panthers picked up $4.8 million. In his first game, Mayfield lost to the Browns on a last-second field goal, 26-24. He won one of his six starts for Carolina and asked to be put on waivers, ostensibly for the Rams to claim him. Mayfield had two career highlights taking over a Rams’ team in shambles. He orchestrated a 98-yard winning drive against the Raiders in the final 1:45 despite joining the team only two days earlier. Two weeks later, Mayfield completed 24 of 28 passes for two touchdowns in a 51-14 rout of Wilson’s Denver Broncos. Mayfield’s future with the Rams is uncertain.