Pickings are slim at veteran quarterback, as usual


The Seahawks’ total-team dominance notwithstanding, the NFL still consists of franchises that have franchise quarterbacks — and franchises that are looking for franchise quarterbacks.

As a result, true franchise quarterbacks never become available in free agency, barring serious injury questions, like Drew Brees in 2006 and Peyton Manning in 2012.

The quarterbacks who become available in any given year rarely become franchise quarterbacks; few become starters.  Still, every year, quarterbacks are available, via free agency or trade.

Here’s a look at the guys who will most likely be available in 2014, and where they could land.

Michael Vick:  He’s confident he’ll be a starter, and for good reason.  If there’s a coach who believes Mark Sanchez would be the starter of said coach’s team from Day One, there will be a spot for Vick, somewhere.  In Cleveland, Jacksonville, Houston, Tennessee, Oakland, Minnesota, and Tampa Bay, Vick would be the starter immediately.  With the Jets, Bills, and Bengals, Vick could give the current starter a run for his starter’s money.  While Vick is far closer to the end of his career than the beginning, he may have one solid year left.

Josh McCown:  A late-career surge in 2013 could make him an attractive option for a team looking for a veteran backup — or for a team that wants someone to mentor a younger player.  In the right situation, he also could be a full-season starter.  Regardless, McCown won offensive player of the week honors in 2013.  None of the other guys on this list can say that.

Matt Cassel:  Cassel didn’t walk away from $3.7 million in Minnesota because he thinks he’ll get less elsewhere.  He’ll make more as the short-term starter in Houston (where he would be reunited with former Pats assistant Bill O’Brien) or as the full-season answer in Oakland.  At worst, Cassel will make slightly more as the veteran backup to an established starter.

Mark Sanchez:  Destined to be cut by the Jets with a $9 million salary for 2014, Sanchez could be an intriguing option for a team that needs a quarterback and that has the supporting cast he never really enjoyed in New York.  Not many first-round busts have had strong second acts, but Sanchez could still develop into a decent starter, in the right situation.

Josh Freeman:  After being run out of Tampa and languishing on the bench in Minnesota, Freeman has become a forgotten man.  At best, he’ll get a chance to prove that he can and will work as hard as a quarterback needs to work in the today’s quarterback-driven NFL.  If he fails, it could be over for Freeman.

Matt Schaub:  With former Texans offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan in Cleveland, some think Schaub will land there if/when he’s cut by the Texans.  With a $10 million salary, it’s likely more “when” than “if” Schaub gets the heave-ho in Houston.  At best, he’ll keep a spot warm somewhere for a rookie, providing protection against the possibility that the newcomer won’t be ready — and a little in-house competition to help get him there.

Kirk Cousins:  Former coach Mike Shanahan showcased Cousins late in 2013, opening the door for a possible trade, even though the Redskins desperately need a competent backup to Robert Griffin III.  Washington could flip its 2012 fourth-rounder into something more this year; the smart move may be to keep Cousins around for one more season.

Matt Flynn:  While it’s unlikely that anyone will install Flynn as the starter (again) only to bench him (again), he has shown he can still play, when needed (again).  The Packers would be wise to keep him around.  If not the Packers, then a team that runs a similar system should sign him to serve as an insurance policy against an injury to the starter.

Jason Campbell:  Still under contract with the Browns for another year, Campbell could be cut loose by the latest new regime.  He played competently in 2013 for the overmatched Browns, continuing an understated career that makes him a viable presence on any depth chart — if the Browns choose not to keep him around.

Brandon Weeden:  Speaking of the Browns, their 2012 first-rounder could be on the way out, and it’s unlikely anyone else would make him a starter.  Still, every team needs backups, and Weeden surely will find a spot, somewhere.

Chad Henne:  The Jaguars would like to keep him around, and for good reason.  With limited weapons, Henne did well in 2013.  Though not a sexy name by any means, Henne could be a solid backup.  And he can still play, when needed.

Shaun Hill:  Forgotten because he hasn’t played much in the last three seasons, the 34-year-old Hill did very well in extended action in 2010, when Matthew Stafford was injured.  Hill also had respectable stretches with the 49ers.  If the Lions don’t re-sign Hill, someone will want to bring him in to serve as a solid No. 2 option.

Kellen Clemens:  After Sam Bradford tore an ACL, most thought the Rams would lose in convincing and ugly fashion, week in and week out.  But the tough, gritty Clemens overachieved, going 4-5 as a starter and engineering upsets over the Colts, Bears, and Saints.  While he may not be a starter, he still has a future in the NFL.

Tavaris Jackson:  Few quarterbacks can match the experiences of Tarvaris Jackson.  The much-hyped second-round pick in 2006 took the Vikings to the playoffs in 2008, lost his job to Brett Favre in 2009, lost it to him again in 2010, and then bounced around the league before winning a Super Bowl as the backup to Russell Wilson.  In a league without enough good quarterbacks to go around, Jackson can hold his own when he gets chances to play — even though he hasn’t gotten many in the past few years.

75 responses to “Pickings are slim at veteran quarterback, as usual

  1. Of the teams in desperate need of a quality starting QB, Houston & Cleveland probably have the best weapons at the other offensive positions.

  2. How is it a “quarterback driven league”? If you have to parrot shallow cliches pick someone smarter than Mayock to reference.

    Quarterbacks are as good as the team around them for the most part. They wax and wane in terms of success and effectiveness. Atlanta and Houston went from first to worst with the same quarterback at the helm a year ago.

  3. I am still to this day confused why Denny Green benched Mcown in Az. I don’t think he ever got a real chance to be a starter.

  4. Joe Philbin in Miami made some comments about having faith in Matt Moore. Let us see what happens down there. With Pat Devlin a personal project the staff likes, will they keep all 3?
    Matt Moore is making more money than Ryan Tannehill. It’s not a lot invested(total) into the QB position at the moment, but 5 million or so is a lot for a non starter, am I wrong?

    Just saying the guy could be a cap casualty if the teams feels Pat Devlin has come a long way in his 3 seaons with Miami, 2 under Philbin.

  5. T-Jack did not take the Vikings to the playoffs in 2008, Gus Frerotte did. Gus started 11 games (8-3) and T-Jack started 5 games (2-3). T-Jack’s best chance is to quietly remain the backup to Wilson. I’m surprised he’s still in the league.

  6. Vick will be a starter in 2014….

    For maybe 2-3 games before he inevitably gets injured, comes back later, and gets injured again. Walking injury report.

  7. I wouldn’t be shocked if 2 of the players from this list are starters by Week 1. And kind of disappointing that Shaun Hill has only got to start 26 games in 12 seasons. There were a ton of bums over the years that stole some of those chances from him.

  8. The Vikings should’ve tried to keep Cassel even if/when they draft a QB he needs a mentor Cassel would a good fit for that, Ponder not so much. Lets just hope they make the right pick in the draft and get a day one starter at QB , Johnny Manziel or Blake Bortles in the first otherwise AJ Mccarron or Aaron Murray in 3rd or 4th, look at the career numbers for the 4 I named Murray and Mccarron I bet have the most consistent numbers. Not to say that the other 2 aren’t great because any team would like to have one of the top touted signal callers ecspecially The Vikings. Make the right pick this time….

  9. Vick is probably the most talented, but his checkered background will likely exclude him from serious consideration.

    Fortunately, there are 4-5 good QB prospects coming up in the draft.

  10. Vick would not start in Houston or Tampa Bay. Bill O’brien is looking for another Tom Brady and not an inaccurate passer who can make plays with his legs.
    Mike Glennon is going to be a very good QB and I think he is the type of player Lovie wants at QB.

  11. Frerotte played great for the Vikings in 2008, but it was Tarvaris who came on in relief of the injured Gus to win the Detroit game and then won 2 of 3 down the stretch to get the Vikes into the playoffs. He also won NFC offensive player of the week honors in that spree. He’s only become better since

  12. this is why you overpay when one is on the market. alex smith last year, KC may be without a 2nd rd pick again, but they don’t have to go through this embarrassing scrap heap of QB’s. Meanwhile teams like the JETS take a Geno Smith in rd 2.

    who would you rather have. Alex Smith and no 2nd rd picks over 2 years, or Geno Smith, and a 2nd rounder this year? pretty easy decision to me

  13. Wow. I really have to say it? Again? To all you haters…

    Tim Tebow.

    Look yourself in the mirror, with nobody around, and have an honest no b.s. moment, based totally on MERIT. Do you really…I mean truly…in your heart, head, and gut, think Josh McGowan, Tavaris Jackson, Jason Campbell, Shaun Hill, or Brandon Weeden is a better choice than Tim Tebow? Really? Go ahead, no one’s listening…it’s o.k….Really?
    Those guys over Tim Tebow?!?

    Come on, man…

  14. Here’s the importance of quarterbacks: Roethlisberger, Flacco and Eli Manning, owners of a combined 5 Super Bowl rings, quarterbacked their respective teams to a combined 23-25 record in 2013. Did they all forget how to play the position?
    Most QBs, with few exceptions, are only as good as their teams’ defenses.

  15. Freeman in the right spot, like Cincinnati, would be interesting. Vikings having him throw 53 passes in 1 game after being their 2 weeks was insane.

  16. The League’s Crusade Against The Steelers Continues says: Feb 9, 2014 4:30 PM

    “It must suck to be a team with instability at the QB position.”

    Q: How many Steelers fans does it take to change a light bulb?

    A: None. They just talk about how great the burned out bulb used to be.

  17. O’Brian is going after Mallet! Then draft Clowney with the 1st. Remember I told you so.

  18. I think it’s now safe to say Matt Flynn can effectively play for one team and one team only. Anywhere outside of Northern Wisconsin and I wouldn’t give you a bowl of soup for him.

  19. Kellen Moore @ Detroit via Boise State is my sleeper pick…Like Russell Wilson, all the kid does is win football games. Lots of them. When will these “so smart they’re dumb ” pro evaluators figure out that winning is what matters?

  20. Tarvaris Jackson is the most credible QB on that list. Now with Superb Owl experience.

    He’d be an instant upgrade on several rosters.

    Including the Vikings.

  21. kylexitron says:
    Feb 9, 2014 6:43 PM
    Tarvaris Jackson is the most credible QB on that list. Now with Superb Owl experience.

    I agree that TJax is a very superb owl. I saw him dressed as one at a Halloween Party once.

  22. anybody but the packers who would sign Flynn should be fired immediately! this guy could not beat out pryor or a free agent in Oakland in addition to failing in seattle. McCowan got to play in the perfect system last year with the bears and di nothing in his pryor 10 years in the league so anybody who signs him and expects the same results is sadly mistaken.

  23. jjackwagon says:
    Feb 9, 2014 2:54 PM
    Of the teams in desperate need of a quality starting QB, Houston & Cleveland probably have the best weapons at the other offensive positions.
    Adrian Peterson and Cordarrelle Patterson might have something to say about that. Greg Jennings is better than his stats were and Jarius Wright is a good slot guy. Oh and Kyle Rudolph. Cleveland has Josh Gordon and that’s pretty much it.

  24. Schaub might as well just get used to selling used cars. He’s not much good s a QB, not even a bench warmer. He sits around with his helmet on, pouting.

  25. Isn’t Rex Grossman also a free agent? And doesn’t he know the Shanahan/Shanahan/Kubiak offense? And doesn’t his SuperBowl appearance give him the best resume? Go Rexy!

  26. Tarvaris Jackson is a lot better than anyone realizes. He looked really good this season in Seattle when he wasn’t playing with a torn pectoral.

    Not sure what happened in Minnesota, but T-Jack deserves another shot at starter somewhere.

  27. Hey lesterclan –

    The answer is YES.

    Besides, this is an article about actual NFL quarterbacks.

  28. Love the comments touting the talent of T-Jax. As someone who watched him play more than a few football games, believe me when I say he does not have what it takes to lead a team to anything better than a .500 record (over the duration). However, I would take him over tebow 7 days of the week, twice on Sunday – since someone mentioned that name.

  29. If the Packers let Flynn go at any point before Aaron Rodgers’ retirement day, they are insane. For whatever reason, he is just right for that team.

  30. Lol. Yer kidding right???? There’s not 1 QB available in FA or the Draft thats better than Dalton in Cincinnati. Bengals are set @ QB for the time being. I agree he isnt Elite, but he’s better than most…..his 30 wins in 3 years proves it.

  31. lesterclan says:
    Feb 9, 2014 8:34 PM

    Wow, you better check you mirror! You just proved you know nothing about football or quarterback play.


    32 out of 32 NFL GMs have chosen all of those guys, plus another 32 third string QBs over Tebow.

    So if he doesn’t know anything about QB play, neither do they.

    What is it you think you know better than just about single GM, coach, analyst, scout and fan does about Tim Tebow?

  32. I hate to break this to Texan fans but I don’t think Schaub is going anywhere. His contract isn’t $10 million but $14 million vs the salary cap and $10 million in dead money if cut. You can’t cut a player with that much dead money, especially when there isn’t a consensus #1 pick at QB to take. I see the Texans bringing in someone to compete but I think they are taking Clowney. Clowney and Watt rushing the passer is too scary to pass up. There is no QB that is worth this draft pick, let the other top picking teams find that out.

  33. bengalguy says: Feb 9, 2014 8:36 PM

    Lol. Yer kidding right???? There’s not 1 QB available in FA or the Draft thats better than Dalton in Cincinnati. Bengals are set @ QB for the time being. I agree he isnt Elite, but he’s better than most…..his 30 wins in 3 years proves it.
    Dalton is a rag-armed playoff choker.

  34. eatitfanboy—

    Well, here’s what I know…
    1. 16 GM’s have been fired since Tebow was drafted in 2010…so what’s your point about GM’s?
    2. 9-7 win/loss including playoffs.
    3. Holds NFL playoff record for yards per completion at 31.6…yes, 31.6 YARDS PER COMPLETION (most of those qb’s listed don’t have a SINGLE completion longer than 30 yards)
    4. 2× BCS National Championship (2007, 2009)
    5. 2× SEC Championship (2006, 2008)
    6. 2× First-team All-American (2007, 2008)
    7. 3× First-team All-SEC (2007, 2008, 2009)
    8. AP Player of the Year (2007)
    9. Davey O’Brien Award (2007)
    10. 2× Maxwell Award (2007, 2008)
    11. Heisman Trophy (2007)
    12. SEC Offensive Player of the Year (2008)
    13. Manning Award (2008)

    Quit hating and judge on FACTS…remember the truth will set you free!

  35. Lesterclan- what about his abysmal 46% accuracy rate? He can throw long bombs accurately less than half the time. He’s takes too long to release the ball so he’s always scrambling. And he can’t read a defense even with glasses on! He’s a nice guy, but get it into your head, he’s a lousy QB.

  36. Lesterclan – you want to judge on facts? Then how come you cherry pick yours? Let’s break down your claims one by one –

    1. GMs are fired all the time – what’s your point? The fact remains that you’re saying that your judgment is better than that of ALL 32 teams.

    2. 9-7, sure. With a career 47.8 completion percentage, 33.4 QBR and 75.8 QB rating. I think the other 52 players might have helped with the wins.

    3. Yes, it’s easy to average 31.6 yds/comp when you only complete 10 passes in a game and manage to hit a wide open guy for an 80 yard touchdown. Besides, that’s for ONE GAME, not his playoff career. Care to talk about his 34.9 completion percentage and 11.8 QBR from the playoff game the next week?

    4-13. All completely irrelevant, since they’re college accomplishments. Unless you also want NFL teams to just give another chance to unfairly maligned players like Gino Torretta, Danny Wuerffel, Matt Leinart, Ryan Leaf, JaMarcus Russell, and a host of other superior college players who can’t play in the NFL.

  37. Vick has “one solid year left”? That implies he’s had at least one in the past. I must have been asleep that season.

  38. Cielo62,
    Where’s your evidence that he is a “lousy QB”? His 46% completion? That’s it?

    BTW, Christian Ponder has the 33rd best Completion % in NFL history at 60.2…Tim Couch-38th with 59.8%…Jack Kemp has a 46.7%

    And don’t forget about his 5.7 yards per carry rushing as well.

  39. I’ll bet that Mark Sanchez could fit right in with the Northern Kentucky River Monsters, and what luck! There’s an opening at QB!

  40. Anyone who thinks Vick could end up in Houston is crazy.

    No way McNair will approve that. Texan fans do not want anything to do with Michael Vick

  41. Not one bonifide starter on that entire list. Half of them are good enough to be back up QBs and the rest don’t even belong in the league.

    If your starting QB is one of those guys on the list for week one, 2014, your team will be missing the playoffs and not winning many games.

  42. @lesterclan: you gotta be trolling. Tebow is/was a terrible QB. Inaccurate, slow delivery and incapable of reading an NFL defense. The fact that no team wanted him for a backup OR 3rd string is telling… not even a practice roster spot was held for the guy. As for your listing of his NCAA awards… really? Doesn’t everyone set an NCAA, conference or school record these days? The games Denver won, including the playoff game… those games were won despite Tebow not because of him. I’d say a 47% career completion percentage and a whopping 70 ypg make him all but useless.

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