Matt Flynn and Peyton Manning Amongst Quarterbacks to Watch in 2012

Michael JakubowskiCorrespondent IJanuary 10, 2012

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 11:  Matt Flynn #10 of the Green Bay Packers passes against the Oakland Raiders at Lambeau Field on December 11, 2011 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Raiders 46-16.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The 2012 NFL playoffs are heading into their second week, which leaves 24 teams having a lot of time on their hands to start prepping for the 2012 season.

2011 gave us the year of the quarterback, littered with fantastic performances from Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and many of the other league's quarterbacks.

These performances have set great expectations for the other quarterbacks in the league to step up next year. The following quarterbacks are the ones to watch going into the 2012 season, whether it be because of their performance this past season, or starting 2012 with a new team. 


Matt Flynn, Green Bay

Flynn will be a free agent at the end of this season, and will undoubtedly garnish the attention of multiple teams throughout the league.

Flynn has just two NFL starts under his belt, given that it takes either an Aaron Rodgers injury or the Packers being in the position where they do not need to win for him to play.

Green Bay played the Lions in Week 17, who were still firing on all cylinders for playoff seeding. The transition from Rodgers to Flynn was seamless. Flynn completed 31 of 44 passes for 480 yards with six TDs and one INT.

The former LSU standout averaged 10.9 yards per completion, and that was without deep threat Greg Jennings.

He also set the franchise record for passing yards and passing touchdowns in a single game - something you would expect to be affiliated with either Brett Favre or his successor Rodgers.

With the Vikings, Dolphins, Redskins, and Seahawks all in need of a QB, Flynn should find himself getting a big pay increase when free agency opens.

Peyton Manning, Indianapolis

Manning has a lot on his shoulders in the coming months. Sources have stated that Colts owner Jim Irsay plans on drafting Andrew Luck with the first overall pick in the upcoming draft.

What remains to be seen is whether or not Manning will still have a home with the Colts. The Colts fan community as well as the staff would love to keep both Manning and Luck, but it is impractical.

It's hard to determine what Luck's contract will be, but with Cam Newton signing for 22 million it will be around that number, given the inclusion of a rookie salary cap after the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The Colts also have a lot of holes to fill throughout the team, which could be remedied by relieving the Colts payroll of Manning's contract. And if Manning is healthy for the 2012 season, suitors will be lining up to take Manning off the Colts hands. And that includes you, Rex Ryan.

Cam Newton, Carolina

While the first two quarterbacks I named are listed for moves to other teams, Newton is going nowhere.

The 2010 Heisman Trophy winner went into his rookie season with a lot of skepticism about if he could live up to expectations, with many experts doubting his ability to succeed in the NFL.

What did Newton do? He silenced his critics, completing 310 of his 517 passes for 4,051 yards, throwing for 21 TDs and 17 INTs.

He not only broke the record for passing yards in a rookie campaign, but also set the league record for rushing TDs by a quarterback with 14.

Newton will have all eyes on him in 2012 as he undergoes his sophomore season, whether it be triumph or slump. It would be smart for the Panthers to get Newton a few more playmakers on offense.

Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay

Freeman has taken Tampa Bay fans and the fantasy football community for a ride in his three years as a starter for the Buccaneers.

The 23-year-old did not come near the expectations he set after his 2010 sophomore season, with his TD totals dropping from 25 to 16, his INT totals increasing from 6 to 22, and his QB rating dropping over 20 points.

With two sub-par years under his belt, Freeman will have to step up in 2012 under the new coaching staff to regain his status as an above-average league QB, and to also show that he has the tools to bring the Bucs back to a winning record.