by Alex Halms 02/03/2012
Every March veteran players throughout the NFL worry for their futures. Teams are desperate to clear enough cap room to address off-season needs and their most expensive assets normally find themselves on the guillotine. Finding a franchise quarterback in free agency is an improbable sweepstake. Finding a franchise quarterback in this year’s free agency is almost impossible (with the exception of Matt Flynn). I’m going to take a look at the QB’s who’ll be out of a job next year – until someone offers them a new contract. It’s a tough time for players who can see the remnants of their illustrious careers on a knife-edge as they wait for the phone call or try-out which will give them one last shot at glory. In-depth analysis of the best of these players and the permutations of their moves will be available in the coming weeks.
1. Drew Brees, 33 – New Orleans Saints
Despite numerous blunders on the part of the Saints’ GM - who earlier this week described Brees as ‘very good, not great’ - the Saints and Brees will work something out. Brees’ contract may be expiring, but he will be playing football in the Superdome next autumn.
2012/13 suitors: New Orleans Saints
2. Matt Flynn, 27 – Green Bay Packers
Flynn is the only exciting part of 2012’s free agency package at quarterback. He’s shown glimpses of being an elite player (and proved that Aaron Rodgers’ offense helps him out rather a lot). In a single-start Flynn passed for more yards than any player in the entirity of the Packers history. I actually like Flynn (surprising what with him being a Packer) but I am concerned people may be jumping the gun. He’s shown the ability to make all the throws needed to do well in the NFL but that’s the bare minimum (yes Tebow, the minimum). He’s not a proven winner as yet but he’s likely to command a lot of courtship come March 13th.
2012/13 suitors: Miami Dolphins, Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets, Cleveland Browns
3. Alex Smith, 28 – San Francisco 49ers
Smith finally proved why someone picked him first overall 7 years ago. The former Ute showed his value in a comeback win over the powerful New Orleans Saints. He darn nearly led the illustrious Niners to the Superbowl and he has a very close relationship with sophomore Head Coach Jim Harbaugh. As such, Smith will be back in San Francisco with a contract to help both him and his teams cap room.
2012/12 suitors: San Francisco 49ers
4. Jason Campbell, 30 – Oakland Raiders
The Raiders really let Campbell down when they chased the play-offs via the acquisition of Carson Palmer. But being Jason Campbell he respected the decisions of those in the front-office and his coaches, kept quiet and waited to see how the season played out. The Raiders missed the play-offs, but Palmer is the man in the Bay Area now. As such, Campbell’s redundant contract will leave him searching for a new home in 2012/13. He’s a great professional, a good man and an average player. He’d be a perfect seat-warmer/back-up for a team with a developmental franchise quarterback. I think Jacksonville suits Campbell perfectly. Gabbert got beat up big time and he may need a season out of the limelight to develop further. Campbell won’t lead you to franchise records or a Superbowl but he will make those around him better and he will be 100% dedicated.
2012/13: Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Seattle Seahawks, Philadelphia Eagles
5. Josh Johnson, 26 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Johnson provides food for thought in free agency. He is the fastest quarterback in the NFL and he has shown the ability to make impressive throws from both inside the pocket and on the run. His decision-making and leadership are both questionable, substantiated by his failure to wrestle the starting role in Tampa. Nevertheless, when you compare the opportunities given to Tavaris Jackson, relative to those Josh Johnson has had, you have to admit that he deserves another shot at leading a franchise. He could be tapped up by teams as an insurance policy and will go into camp competing for a starting role.
2012/13: Jacksonville Jaguars, Denver Broncos, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins, Chicago Bears
6. Chad Henne, 27 – Miami Dolphins
Oh Chad Henne. With all your promise, and all of Tony Sparano’s faith you’ve fallen short of what was expected. Physically Henne has all the tools. Unfortunately he just isn’t mentally sound enough to be the face of a franchise. At least not in Miami. Perhaps, when he leaves the shadowed home of Dan Marino, Henne may step into the limelight and prove he can play football at this level. Henne needs someone to take a leap of faith, sign him up on a short-term deal and let him contest for a starting role. I think there is a market for Henne, but it’ll be one heck of a reality check when he gets his next pay cheque.
2012/13: Jacksonville Jaguars, Denver Broncos, New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks, Cleveland Browns, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kansas City Chiefs
7. Kyle Orton, 29 – Kansas City Chiefs
Orton’s career has taken him across the USA in search of a long-term fit. It looked for a while like it might be in Denver, but then Tebowmania turned up and off was poor Kyle. He plugged the gap for the injured Matt Cassel in Kansas City and isn’t likely to be resigned. Orton is a decent signal caller, who can manage a team admirably but lacks the intangible leadership that lost him the Broncos dressing room. He’ll play as a back-up next season.
2012/13: New York Jets, Washington Redskins, St Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders
8. Brian Hoyer, 26 – New England Patriots
The Patriots have plans for Hoyer. If he falls short then Mallett will step up to follow Tom Terrific. Nonetheless, Hoyer is a restricted free agent with no plans to start in the NFL just yet. He’ll be playing next season in Gilette Stadium and we’ll have to wait and see what Bill does with him next.
2012/13: New England Patriots
9. Rex Grossman, 32 – Washington Redskins
Rex isn’t going to turn a franchise around. He’s proved that. Twice. He was carried to the Superbowl on the wave of one of the greatest defences in NFL history. And he lost. Rex is the ultimate game manager, and harks back to darker quarterbacking days (where the likes of Trent Dilfer were still playing football in February). Rex’s tenure as a starter is over and it’s time for him to settle where he belongs – as a back-up on an average team.
2012/13: Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs, Indianapolis Colts
10. Shaun Hill, 32 – Detroit Lions
Hill is one of the NFL’s best and most reliable back-ups. He keeps quiet, plays when he’s needed and applies adequate pressure on the starter. If a rookie-QB scenario seems to be going pear-shaped then Hill would be on hand to steady the ship. I think Detroit will want him back, but perhaps Cincinnati or Baltimore are good fits too.
2012/13: Detroit Lions, Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens
Remaining free agent QBs:
11. Dennis Dixon, 27 – Pittsburgh Steelers
12. Josh McCown, 33 – Chicago Bears
13. Donovan McNabb, 35 – Minnesota Vikings
14. Drew Stanton, 28 - Detroit Lions
15. Vince Young, 29 - Philadelphia Eagles
16. Chase Daniel (RFA), 25 – New Orleans Saints
17. Byron Leftwich, 32 - Pittsburgh Steelers
18. Brady Quinn, 27 - Denver Broncos
19. Charlie Batch, 37 - Pittsburgh Steelers
20. Kellen Clemens, 29 – St Louis Rams
21. Sage Rosenfels, 34 – Minnesota Vikings
22. A.J. Feeley, 35 – St Louis Rams
23. Caleb Hanie, 27 - Chicago Bears
24. Derek Anderson, 29 - Carolina Panthers
25. David Carr, 33 – New York Giants
26. J.P. Losman, 31 - Miami Dolphins
27. Kyle Boller, 31 - Oakland Raiders
28. Chris Redman, 35 - Atlanta Falcons
29. Luke McCown, 31 – Jacksonville Jaguars.
30. Jake Delhomme, 37 - Houston Texans
31. Charlie Whitehurst, 30 – Seattle Seahawks
32. Mark Brunell, 41 – New York Jets
33. Kevin O'Connell, 27 – New York Jets
34. Kerry Collins, 39 – Indianapolis Colts