DENVER (AP) — Among the many nine NFL teams changing quarterbacks in 2022 are three franchises that had been the models of stability on the position for a decade or more: the Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons and Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Seahawks and Falcons traded away their longtime starters and the Steelers lost Ben Roethlisberger to retirement.
Russell Wilson led the Seahawks to the playoffs eight times in his decade in Seattle before his relationship with coach Pete Carroll soured and he was dealt to Denver in a blockbuster trade this spring.
Wilson becomes the sixth different starting quarterback in six years for the Broncos, who’ve churned through a dozen so-so QBs since Peyton Manning retired.
The Broncos gave up 4 high draft picks and three veterans for Wilson, including QB Drew Lock, who seesawed with Geno Smith in an underwhelming camp competition that had Seahawks fans dreaming of next yr’s deep class of QBs featuring Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Alabama’s Bryce Young and Kentucky’s Will Levis.
The Falcons are heading into the season without Matt Ryan under center for the primary time since 2007. What spelled the top of Ryan’s long stay in Atlanta was the Falcons’ dalliance with Deshaun Watson, who eventually agreed to a trade to Cleveland after the Browns guaranteed every penny of his latest $230 million contract.
The Falcons traded Ryan, who began 232 of 235 games for Atlanta, including Super Bowl 51, to the Indianapolis Colts — who parted with Carson Wentz after only one yr — for a third-round pick.
Atlanta replaced Ryan with Marcus Mariota, who might be a starter for the primary time in 4 years. Wentz ended up in Washington, the third NFL stop in three seasons for the second overall pick the Eagles in 2016.
One other ripple of the Watson trade, which netted the Texans five draft picks, including three first-rounders, was the departure of Baker Mayfield after a divisive four-year run in Cleveland that included the Browns’ first playoff win since 2002. Mayfield was traded to Carolina, where he beat out Sam Darnold.
Watson won’t be eligible to suit up for the Browns until Week 13 following an 11-game NFL suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy after he was accused of sexual misconduct by two dozen women while with the Texans.
“My whole life I just have been capable of move forward and that’s the plan,” said Watson, who can return for the Browns’ game in Houston on Dec. 4.
Wilson and Mayfield won’t must wait that long for his or her reunions.
Wilson returns to Seattle on Sept. 12 to cap a gap weekend that also contains a revenge game with the Browns, behind stand-in Jacoby Brissett, at Carolina.
The last time the Steelers entered a season without “Big Ben” at quarterback was 2003, although Roethlisberger’s 2019 season ended after two weeks due to an elbow injury that required surgery.
Pittsburgh, loaded with premier pass-catchers, signed free agent Mitch Trubisky, who spent 4 turbulent years in Chicago before serving as Josh Allen’s backup in Buffalo last yr, and drafted Kenny Pickett out of the University of Pittsburgh.
Finally, the 49ers turned things over to Trey Lance this summer after he spent his rookie yr on the bench behind Jimmy Garoppolo, who led San Francisco to the Super Bowl following the 2019 season.
Wilson insists he’s not anticipating an emotional homecoming at Lumen Field.
“It needs to be non-emotional,” Wilson said, similar to every other game he played while compiling a 113-60-1 record for the Seahawks, including a 43-8 demolition of Denver in Super Bowl 48.
Wilson might be the primary quarterback to begin for a team he beat within the Super Bowl, but he said he’s not concerned within the least whether he’ll be greeted with cheers or jeers.
Mayfield, however, acknowledges there might be some extra incentive in going against the Browns within the Panthers’ opener.
“Obviously there may be a variety of attachment there and I’m not going to sit down here and be a robot and say that it doesn’t mean anything,” Mayfield said. “It should.”
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