The first shoe has dropped in the NFL quarterback carousel, with the Pittsburgh Steelers turning the reins of their offense over to first-round rookie Kenny Pickett.
Carolina's Baker Mayfield may have beaten Mitch Trubisky to the ignominious distinction of being the first NFL quarterback benchedthis season, if not for the Panthers' simple lack of options.
With 2021 starter Sam Darnold "not close" to returning from a high-ankle sprain, according to coach Matt Rhule, and rookie Matt Corral (foot) out for the season, the only other quarterback on the roster is former XFL star P.J. Walker.
Mayfield opened as the 150 favorite by SportsBetting.ag on Tuesday to be the next starting quarterback benched, but he was quickly passed by another struggling veteran.
Washington is off to a 1-3 start under Carson Wentz, who is with his third team in as many seasons. Wentz has thrown for 1,031 yards with eight touchdowns and five interceptions through the first quarter of the season.
However, Wentz's passer rating has declined each week, bottoming out at 58.4 in Sunday's loss at Dallas in which he threw for 170 yards with one touchdown and a pair of interceptions.
The Commanders are already two games behind Dallas and the New York Giants, and three behind Philadelphia in the NFC East.
Washington coach Ron Rivera, who agreed to take on Wentz's $28.3 million cap hit this season when acquiring the quarterback from Indianapolis, is on an increasingly hot seat himself. Wentz is Rivera's sixth different starting quarterback in just three seasons, and the coach preached patience with the offense on Monday.
The Commanders have last year's starter, Taylor Heinicke, along with fifth-round rookie Sam Howell on the roster.
Next Quarterback Benched Odds (non-injury related)
Player (Team) Opening Odds, Current
Carson Wentz (Commanders) 175, 125
Baker Mayfield (Panthers) 150, 175
Davis Mills (Texans) 700, 700
Justin Fields (Bears) 900, 900
Geno Smith (Seahawks) 1000, 1000
Marcus Mariota (Falcons) 1000, 1000
Matt Ryan (Colts) 900, 1200
Ryan Tannehill (Titans) 1100, 1200
Jared Goff (Lions) 2000, 2500
For the time being, it would appear to be a race between Wentz and Mayfield as there aren't many logical replacements - or needs - for the other players being offered in the market.
--Houston is the lone remaining winless team in the league but Mills' only backup is journeyman Kyle Allen.
--Fields has struggled to lead a consistent passing game in Chicago but the Bears are 2-2 at the quarter mark. The No. 11 overall pick in 2021 is completing only 50.7 percent of his passes with a pair of touchdowns against four interceptions, but the team is highly unlikely to turn the offense over to journeyman Trevor Siemian.
--Mariota has helped Atlanta rebound from an 0-2 start and has the Falcons tied atop the NFC South at 2-2.
--Meanwhile, Smith leads the NFL with a 77.3 completion percentage and Seattle is surprisingly 2-2 along with the rest of the NFC West.
--Ryan has struggled through the first month of his tenure in Indianapolis. Coach Frank Reich is placing the brunt of the offensive issues on his woeful line and the Colts still envision themselves as a threat in the AFC. Moving on from Ryan in favor of Nick Foles or Sam Ehlinger doesn't appear to be anywhere in Reich's thoughts.
--The story is similar in Tennessee, where Tannehill has long been the fodder for critics. But the Titans are tied atop the AFC South at 2-2 and third-round rookie Malik Willis in not considered to being anywhere close to ready to lead the offense.
--The Lions have tumbled to a 1-3 start but Goff has not been the issue. Detroit leads the NFL with 140 points scored but the 141 the Lions have allowed is 26 more than any other team.
That brings the conversation back to Wentz and Mayfield.
Rivera has pointed to poor pass protection and the league's 21st-ranked run game as contributing factors in Wentz's declining production. He did sound Monday like a he was ready to make a move soon to Heinicke or Howell.
Rhule is in a different predicament due to the injuries to Darnold and Corral.
Rhule said Mayfield will remain under center, hardly providing strong endorsement for the former first overall pick of the Cleveland Browns. Mayfield is among the lowest-rated quarterbacks in the league, completing a career-low 54.7 percent of his passes while throwing four touchdowns and three interceptions.
"I think Baker is our quarterback," Rhule said Monday. "We just need Baker to settle down and play within the scheme. That is something he believes in, we all believe in."
--Field Level Media