Top free agent quarterbacks for 2022 NFL regular season originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The quarterback free agency pool is not somewhere any team wants to be during the regular season.
If a team is pursuing the quarterback market during the season, it either made a critical offseason error when evaluating its quarterback room or encountered something completely out of their hands: an injury to their most important player.
One week into the 2022 NFL season, there have already been a pair of notable QB injuries. Dak Prescott could miss up to two months after suffering a thumb injury on his throwing hand in the Dallas Cowboys’ season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Down in Miami, New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones suffered a back injury, as well.
If a team is not comfortable turning to a backup on the roster and cannot find a desirable option via trade, it is left with the free agent market to fill in for its starter. After a busy free agent period in the offseason, it is slim pickings when it comes to quarterbacks who are still available.
Here is the best of the bunch.
We begin with a former league MVP.
Cam Newton took the NFL by storm, making history in his rookie season and winning MVP four years later. His first stint in Carolina came to an end in 2019 and he soon landed the starting job with the Patriots in 2020. After a one-year run in Foxboro, Newton was a free agent to start the 2021 season and soon rejoined the Panthers.
ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio wrote that Newton remains unsigned in 2022 because he won’t sign to be a team’s backup. Newton was immediately thrust into playing time with the Panthers last season and they were unable to turn things around. Should a desperate team need a starter on short notice, Newton might be the best option even with the results from 2021.
From one winless quarterback in 2021 to another, Mike Glennon is another veteran signal caller looking for a job.
Glennon spent every season from 2016 to 2021 with a new team, assuming the backup role in most of those QB rooms. He got four starts last season with the New York Giants in place of an injured Daniel Jones, and the team went 0-4. Glennon finished the season with a 53.9% completion percentage, four passing touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
For his career, Glennon has a 6-25 record and has not won a game under center since 2017.
Garrett Gilbert is one of only a few quarterbacks who saw the field in 2021 who is not on an NFL team yet in 2022.
Gilbert has started one game in each of the last two seasons. He was with the Cowboys in 2020 and threw for a touchdown and a pick in a 24-19 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. In 2021, he got a start for Washington in a 27-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
The 2018 sixth-rounder has thrown a total of 75 NFL passes over the last four years.
For any team looking to take a swing on an unproven player, Strong might be the best option.
Strong spent four years at Nevada and threw for 36 touchdowns to eight interceptions in his senior season. He went undrafted in 2022 before signing with the Eagles. It was a confounding preseason for the rookie, though, as he got few practice reps and just four preseason pass attempts before being cut on Aug. 29.
The Denver Broncos brought in Strong for a free agent visit on Sept. 5, but the team did not elect to sign him.
Ben DiNucci, Matt Barkley, A.J. McCarron
We have now reached the players who did not even see the field in 2021.
There’s not a whole lot to differentiate DiNucci, Barkley and McCarron. DiNucci got a start for the Cowboys in 2020, whereas Barkley and McCarron only got backup snaps that season. Still, it’s been almost two years since any of them went up against an NFL defense in the regular season.