One of the major details of last year's NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) was the advent of a rookie wage scale. What a wage scale did is give teams the ability to take more risks with their first-round picks.
Prior to a rookie wage scale, rookies were cashing in at a rate that was unsustainable for franchises. Teams were making a significant financial investment in one player, only to watch that player fail. With that much money tied up in one underachieving player, franchises were being set back. And it was much worse for teams that had that money tied up in a quarterback.
But those days are gone with the new CBA. Teams are more willing to take a chance on a quarterback, especially teams picking in the top half of the first round.
The 2011, four quarterbacks were taken in the first 12 picks, the most since 1999.
This year, there are a handful of QB-needy teams picking in the top 12. While it's unlikely all of them will use their first-round pick on a quarterback, you can be certain that these teams will be quarterback shopping this offseason.
Here are five teams that need a quarterback and the best signal-caller option for each of them.
All indications are that Indianapolis will release Peyton Manning before he's due $28 million from the Colts on March 8. Manning's neck injury, which kept him out the entire 2011 season, is a too much of a risk for the Colts to stand pat this offseason.
Last year's 2-14 season by the Colts showed they were not prepared for life after Manning. The Colts have an opportunity to replace Manning this offseason with one of the most complete college quarterbacks in Andrew Luck.
Of all the teams looking for a quarterback this offseason, the Colts have the best situation for fixing their quarterback quandary.
Prediction: Manning will be released. Luck is the Week 1 starter for the Colts.
After trying and failing with quarterbacks Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman and John Beck, the Redskins need to address their quarterback situation this offseason.
However, addressing their quarterback needs in the draft may difficult for the Redskins. They currently hold the No. 6 pick, which is after the Indianapolis Colts and Cleveland Browns, two quarterback-needy teams.
The belief is that by the time Washington is on the clock, the top two quarterbacks in the draft, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, will be gone.
That leaves Washington with three options: trade up, reach for a quarterback with the sixth pick or sign a free agent quarterback.
The free agent quarterback list is filled with intriguing options for the Redskins. That list includes Packers backup Matt Flynn, the soon-to-be-released Peyton Manning and former Chicago and Denver cast-off Kyle Orton. All would be better options than Washington's current quarterbacks.
The Redskins quarterback situation is so dire that they will likely need to sign a free agent quarterback and draft one as well.
Prediction: The Redskins sign Orton and draft a quarterback in the second-round of the 2012 NFL draft.
The Seahawks have a solid running game with Marshawn Lynch, a young and improving defense and enough offensive weapons to be dangerous. However, Tarvaris Jackson is not the answer at quarterback for Seattle.
Jackson's first year in Seattle was very average, which has been the quarterback's calling card his entire career. Jackson simply doesn't have the playmaking ability and poise in the pocket to take the Seahawks to the next level.
Seattle will be one of the teams active in free agency looking for a quarterback. The names you'll here thrown out as possible Seattle quarterbacks in 2012 include Peyton Manning, Matt Flynn and Jason Campbell. All of those player would be upgrades over Jackson.
Seattle also could use its first-round pick on a quarterback, which will be pick No. 11 or 12 pending a coin flip with Kansas City. If Seattle chooses the rookie route, look for Jackson to remain the starter, at least to start the season.
Prediction: Seattle pursues Matt Flynn, but settles on Jason Campbell. They will also draft a quarterback in the second or third round in the 2012 NFL draft.
The Browns thought they had their future signal-caller in Colt McCoy. However, after a challenging second season, where McCoy showed signs of regression, the Browns will be in the market for a quarterback.
Cleveland doesn't need a bridge quarterback; they need a young playmaker. Luckily for the Browns, there's one available and his name is Robert Griffin III.
Griffin III is a versatile quarterback who is expected to be in high demand come April.
The 2012 NFL draft sets up nicely for the Browns, at least it does for now. They currently hold the No. 4 pick and are drafting behind two teams that don't need a quarterback, the St. Louis Rams and Minnesota Vikings.
However, where things could get interesting for the Browns is if some team trades up ahead of them and
nabs Griffin III.
Cleveland has two options on draft day: be proactive and trade up to get Griffin III or stand pat and hope he makes it to them at No. 4. While it's too early to predict Griffin III's draft stock, his upside should be enough for the Browns to be all-in.
Griffin III would also bring instant excitement to Cleveland, something sports fans in that city desperately need after the departure of LeBron James.
Prediction: Cleveland drafts Robert Griffin III, and he becomes starter early in the season after McCoy struggles early.
Since Dan Marino retired in 1999, the Miami Dolphins have had 16 different starting quarterbacks. Look for them to make finding a quarterback a priority this offseason, once again.
The hot rumor right now is that the Dolphins will pursue Peyton Manning once he's released by the Colts and is deemed healthy enough to play. However, there's a different option that would make more sense than Manning, and it's a player who has a connection to Miami's new head coach.
Miami hired former Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin to replace Tony Sparano, which should be enough to fuel speculation about Matt Flynn ending up with the Dolphins.
Philbin and Flynn spent four seasons together in Green Bay and had success in the limited opportunities they had together. The two would be able to take the Packers offense to South Beach in what would be a seamless transition for the duo.
Prediction: The Dolphins pass on Manning and sign Flynn to a long-term deal.