The NFL is a league of parity, and just when you think you have it figured out the standings tend to flip on their heads.
Coming off of the 2021 season the Los Angeles Rams seemed they’d stay on top of the world for quite a while—after all it only took Matthew Stafford a single try to win a championship in LA. But the Rams’ roster was built on razor’s edge, and as star players went down with injury the team started to crumble. Stafford himself missed most of last year with multiple stints in the NFL’s concussion protocol and a spinal cord contusion. He’s hoping to put the injuries behind him and bounce back this upcoming season, but Los Angeles has little veteran talent left on the defensive side of the ball.
More shocking than the collapse of the Rams was the emergence of the San Francisco 49ers in the face of losing quarterbacks Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo to season-ending injuries. Brock Purdy, the very last pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, led the team to their second consecutive NFC Championship before suffering a significant UCL injury.
Now Garoppolo is a Las Vegas Raider and both Lance and Purdy are working their way back from injuries. While have two starting quality players is a good problem to have, it’s difficult to fathom that San Francisco could turn to a late round draft choice over the quarterback that they traded multiple first round picks for the opportunity to select. It’s also fair to question how Purdy will fare in terms of passing accuracy less than a year removed from injury.
Currently the only 49ers QB under contract for 2023 that has a shot at being healthy for the offseason program is.... Trey Lance.— David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself) January 30, 2023
(But Lance is still in a walking boot)
The Arizona Cardinals also have their fair share of injury issues at quarterback. Kyler Murray tore his ACL late last season and is expected to miss the start of the 2023 campaign. The injury came in the first year of Murray’s contract extension he signed last offseason, and his absence must way heavy on the Cardinals’ new head coach, Jonathan Gannon. But Gannon will have time and an excuse to not compete from the get go—Arizona might already be more focused on 2024.
And that brings us to the Seattle Seahawks, who arguably have the most stable quarterback situation in the NFC West just offseason removed from trading away Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos. Geno Smith has had a late-career resurgence, and he’s found a movement and playmaking ability that he never really flashed in his early days with the New York Jets.
Geno Smith just fit a ball in between three defenders for a Seahawks TD pic.twitter.com/T9tFnwww8J— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) October 9, 2022
That’s not to say that Seattle wouldn’t select a young quarterback at number five overall in this month’s draft—the same pick they received in return for Wilson. But Smith’s breakout certainly buys them time, and the contract he signed this offseason is not something that will prevent the Seahawks from moving on in the next couple of years if a better option arises. Seattle would be a fine landing spot for a quarterback that may need some time to learn, such as Florida’s Anthony Richardson. The Seahawks have a penchant for drafting highly athletic players and putting them in a position to succeed, see Tariq Woolen from last year.
It’s certain in the NFL that nothing stays the same for long, though that still doesn’t soften the stark surprise that is the Seahawk’s stability at quarterback. Things can change on a dime in the NFL West, and there’s really no telling what will happen in 2023.