NFL Quarterback Carousel Season Off to a Hectic Start

At least eight teams will have a new QB to open the 2024 campaign

Former Viking Kirk Cousins throws a football. He's one of the quarterbacks heading to a new team during QB carousel season.
Atlanta gave Kirk Cousins 100 million guaranteed reasons to leave Minnesota.
Quinn Harris/Getty

Much like Journey’s “Wheel in the Sky” has been doing since it was released 46 years ago in March of 1978, the NFL’s quarterback carousel keeps on turnin’. Given the volatility and importance of the most difficult position in American sports, there are many aspiring NFL QBs who can’t be 100% sure which team’s roster they’ll be on tomorrow — if any.

Newly minted Steeler Russell Wilson, who is taking the NFL minimum to compete for the No. 1 QB job in Pittsburgh while the Broncos pay him nearly $40 million to not play for them in Denver, does not fall into that category. Neither do Kirk Cousins (Falcons), Gardner Minshew (Raiders), Mac Jones (Jaguars), Sam Darnold (Vikings), Marcus Mariota (Commanders) or Jacoby Brissett (Patriots), as they’ve all either been traded or agreed to contracts with new teams.

The future is less certain for veteran free-agent quarterbacks including Jimmy Garoppolo, Jameis Winston, Ryan Tannehill, Joe Flacco, Drew Lock and Mason Rudolph, all of whom started at some point last season. It’s also unclear if signed QBs including Justin Fields (Bears), Zach Wilson (Jets) and Jarrett Stidham (Broncos) will remain with their current teams for the 2024 season or be traded. Of the available QBs, Fields probably has the most upsides, but he also has a lower floor than a veteran like Garoppolo, Tannehill and maybe even Flacco, who was able to go from sitting on his couch to playing a postseason game for the Browns last season.

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As of this writing, it appears there are a minimum of eight NFL teams that will open the ’24 campaign with a different starting quarterback than ’23, and that number could rise significantly depending on what happens during the rest of free agency and during the NFL draft at the end of April.

Though probably not as noteworthy due to the de-emphasis on the ground game in today’s NFL, a number of big-name running backs including Josh Jacobs (Packers), Saquon Barkley (Eagles), Tony Pollard (Titans), D’Andre Swift (Bears), Devin Singletary (Giants), Austin Ekeler (Commanders), Antonio Gibson (Patriots), Zack Moss (Bengals), Aaron Jones (Vikings) and Gus Edwards (Chargers) are all changing teams. All-Pro runner Derrick Henry, who will not be returning to the Titans, has not found a new home yet, but has been linked with the Baltimore Ravens.

The San Francisco 49ers, a team that hasn’t made significant moves at quarterback or running back, are nonetheless listed as the favorite to win the Super Bowl with +500 odds. The Niners are followed by the Chiefs (+600), Ravens (+950), Bills (+1000), Lions (+1200) and Bengals (+1300). The Panthers, who used the No. 1 pick in last year’s draft on ex-Alabama QB Bryce Young, have the longest Super Bowl odds at (+25000).

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