Quarterback Solutions

Here is a post that I wrote on February 25th, 2011 that I think is applicable today

While every year there are always NFL teams that have quarterback needs, it seems like this year more than any other year that there is an abundance of teams in need of a quarterback. While I am truly under the belief you do not need an elite quarterback if you have a great defense to win playoff games and championships, most teams do not have a great defense and thus a great quarterback becomes necessary.

The Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Tennessee Titans (assuming they actually do release Vince Young once the NFL can actually go into free agency), Washington Redskins, and Minnesota Vikings currently do not have a capable short term or long term quarterback solution on their roster. The Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals, and Oakland Raiders have a fine short term solution but are in desperate need of a long term solution- especially considering these teams have a quarterback that is not very talented and/or are very late in their careers and are on the decline. The Carolina Panthers (Jimmy Claussen), New York Jets (Mark Sanchez) and Detroit Lions (Matthew Stafford) have young guys on their roster that currently look like wild cards. They could become a competent above average quarterback or could become a bust.

That's 12 teams that are in need or could possibly need a quarterback.

Three of these teams will draft Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton, and Ryan Mallet (who I predict will all be drafted in the first round) eliminating this list down to 9 teams and the addition of Jake Locker and Andy Dalton to teams make those respective organizations have high hopes for the future.

But there's still a handful of teams that need a quarterback. So here's my list of available guys (or guys who I think can realistically become available) for teams via free agency or trades


1) Kyle Orton
Current Team: Denver Broncos

I'm fully aware that new Broncos head coach recently stated that Kyle Orton is currently the team's #1 QB- but he did qualify that statement saying that Orton was the team's top guy when he competes in training camp. Orton, and rightfully so, is upset at his organization considering he wants to start, he has the talent to start, yet he's being benched for Tim Tebow. Kyle Orton has done nothing wrong, yet he feels like he's being punished. Denver is fully aware of disgruntled quarterbacks and there's no reason why the organization shouldn't trade him a la Jay Cutler in 2009.

The team drafted Tim Tebow in the first round last year. Granted, that selection was Josh McDaniels' pick and right now Denver is under the John Fox era. But for better or for worse this team is "stuck" with Tebow. Tebow had the highest selling jersey last year and there's no reason to think that this kid can't be the franchise. The logical step for Denver is to trade Orton and build the team around Tebow.

I put Orton as my number one "free agent choice" because he's proven to be a winner, proven to be good, and is only 28 years old. I saw Orton in his rookie year and he looked like the quintessential game manager. He let that elite defense do its thing and his job was just to not turn the ball over. And he did just that. But he's matured and progressed throughout his career. When Orton regained the starting position for the Bears three years later, he looked like a different quarterback. Not only was he not turning the ball over but he was leading his team down to scoring drives.

Orton can still develop some and he still does have some deficiencies- mainly a career QB completion percentage under 60.0% (58.1) and he still doesn't have that elite quality like a Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers where he can personally lead his team on essential scoring drives. However, I see no reason why he can't be like Matt Ryan or Joe Flacco.

2) Kevin Kolb
Current Team: Philadelphia Eagles

I'm going to try to keep these blurbs short and sweet from now on, but I had to express my love for Orton.

The problem with Kolb is that he's still an unknown. He only has 7 career starts and I won't even fully judge a quarterback after 16 straight starts. But Kolb was a high draft pick (second round), learned how to play under the tutelage of the Eagles system, and is only 27 years old. There's still plenty of time for him to develop into a great quarterback .

With the emergence of Michael Vick becoming an elite quarterback, the Eagles don't really need Kolb as much as they thought the did and not only is trading away Kolb more than a theoretical prediction (like with Orton) but I will guarantee you Kevin Kolb will be a starting quarterback for another team besides the Eagles once a new collective bargaining agreement is in place.

3) Vince Young
Current Team: Tennessee Titans

Vince Young just wins games. Sure, he has so many turnovers that it forces the opposition to be in the game, but he more than makes up for it with his game winning drives.

Vince Young has the talent to be great but I think there are two main obstacles in his way: turnovers and his maturity. Turnovers are a correctable problems but throughout Young's professional career he has a history of fumbling and forcing interceptions. This could be solved but I fear his immaturity could get in the way of just that. I'm still not 100% sold that Young truly has a maturity problem but when a coach like Jeff Fischer not only says so but leaves the team because of it, it absolutely raises some red flags about this guy.

Now I am operating under the assumption that the Titans will release Young but now with coach Fischer out of the picture and Young being owner Bud Adams' boy, I'm not so sure about this. However, if Young does get released, he's a great addition to another team and there's a chance that not only can another team help Young mature, but like when Cedric Benson got released, humble the man and help him reach his potential.

4) Matt Leinart
Current Team: Houston Texans

I'm very upset at the Arizona Cardinals for putting me in the position to keep praising Matt Leinart over and over again. While I hated him at USC because of all the hype he received, he still has talent.

This is a kid who would have been the number one overall pick (ahead of Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith) had he left school early, a kid who was still a first round draft pick, and still learned the game from one of the greats in Kurt Warner. Now he does have maturity issues and I do think his football maturity has been stunted from not being able to be a consistent starter every week, but I still think he still has the potential to be a starter.

While the Houston Texans have not stated anything about trading Leinart nor does it seems any team has inquired about Leinart, I can easily foresee the USC grad pulling a Matt Schaub and going from a perennial back up to a legit starter.

5) Drew Stanton
Current Team: Detroit Lions

It looks very unlikely that the Lions will resign Stanton making him a free agent soon. Even though Stanton has the best win percentage out of any Lions quarterback the past few years, the team still has better options. Even though Matthew Stafford has the body of glass, he still looks like a really good quarterback and, if healthy, has the ceiling to be elite. Shaun Hill looked really good as a back up in Detroit and while I could see the potential that the team could either keep Stanton and release Shaun Hill (placing Hill #3 in the short term category below) or releasing both Hill and Stanton, if the Lions do release Stanton, I think the 26 year old is worth the shot. Hell, he looked good at the end of the season in 2010.

6) Brady Quinn
Current Team: Denver Broncos

Similar to Matt Leinart- Quinn was a high draft pick who never got the chance to be a consistent starter. Say what you will about Charlie Weis but I think he's a damn fine offensive mind and knows his quarterbacks. I truly believe that neither Tom Brady nor Matt Cassel would be where they are today with Wies. So I believe a talented kid learning from Weis could be really good if given a starter job week after week.

While I do find it very hard to believe that Denver would release/trade both Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn when they still have an unknown entity as the starting quarterback, I can't imagine the Broncos organizations thinks *that* highly of Quinn and the guy still is only 26 years old with professional starting experience.

7) Caleb Hanie
Current Team: Chicago Bears

When you have workhorse, tough quarterback like Jay Cutler, you don't really need to worry about who your back up is (a. unless that back up is Todd Collins b. I don't want to hear your crap about why you think Cutler isn't tough c. I know Bears fans are still getting used to the prospect about the back up quarterback being irrelevant). Caleb Hanie really is expendable to the organization.

Even after watching Bears training camp practices, exhibition games, and their full regular season and playoffs, I still can't tell you a whole lot about the talent of Hanie, but based upon the limited playing time he's had and his performance in the NFC Championship game, I think he's worth a flyer if you're truly desperate for a quarterback.


1) Carson Palmer
Current Team: Cincinnati Bengals

Carson Palmer has talent- I think there's no denying that. But Palmer isn't the same quarterback since his knee surgery. Palmer is not only on the wrong side of 30 but he doesn't really look like the same QB. But with that being said, I can easily foresee Palmer looking like his old self with a new change of scenery.

The biggest hurdle to Palmer changing teams is the Bengals organization themselves. They love Palmer and don't want to trade him. If I was running the team I would jump at the best second round draft pick offer that came my way, but I think Palmer stays (and plays) in Cincinnati for the remainder of his contract.

2) Ryan Fitzpatrick
Current Team: Buffalo Bills

Even though Fitzpatrick is only 28 years old and had a damn fine season in 2010, the reason I put him in the short term category is for the same reason I don't think the Bills should draft a quarterback (or at least a QB who they plan to start in 2011) in the upcoming draft- FItzpatrick to me is a fill-in player. He is an average player who will not only won't hurt your team but will allow your organization to build up other essential positions before the team replaces the quarterback.

With Mel Kiper's latest draft update having Cam Newton going #3 overall to the Bills, Fitzpatrick becomes that much more expendable to the Bills organization and more suited for another starting gig somewhere else.

3) Donovan McNabb
Current Team: Washington Redskins

I'm not 100& convinced McNabb is done but the biggest hurdle will not be McNabb's age or skill set but that awful contract the Redskins signed him to. Because of that I think Donovan stays a Redskin in 2011.