NFL Predictions: Projected 2012 Starters for Quarterback-Needy Teams

Craig HortonCorrespondent IMarch 5, 2012

NFL Predictions: Projected 2012 Starters for Quarterback-Needy Teams

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    Every NFL offseason there are a few teams with an unsettled quarterback situation.

    Those teams that fail to properly address the problem put themselves further behind the rest of the league.

    All of the NFL teams who are consistently good have a franchise quarterback in place. It's not a coincidence.

    This year's upcoming draft and free agency will see several teams making moves to shore up the position.

    When you consider that one of the all-time greats—Peyton Manning—might be one of those free agents, it makes it more interesting.

    Before the frenzy starts, here is a look at who might be starting where in 2012.

Arizona Cardinals: Kevin Kolb

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    The Cardinals have been rumored to be interested in Peyton Manning, if he is released by Indianapolis.

    It may be more rumor than anything.

    Arizona signed Kevin Kolb to a $63 million contract just last year.

    Kolb was often injured, and his backup, John Skelton, played pretty well.

    Because of his big contract and injury issues, some believe the Cardinals might cut him.

    However, the Cardinals should see if Kolb can stay injury free for a season before giving up on him.

Cleveland Browns: Robert Griffin III

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    The Browns haven't had good results drafting quarterbacks in the first round since re-entering the NFL in 1999.

    Tim Couch and Brady Quinn were both disappointments.

    For this reason, the Browns might have reservations about making a trade with the St. Louis Rams to obtain the second pick in April's NFL draft.

    Though the Browns are in the best position to deal with St. Louis, Griffin could still be there when Cleveland picks fourth, if the Rams keep the No. 2 choice.

    If that happens, the Browns can't let Griffin pass by.

Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck

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    The once unthinkable might soon happen—Peyton Manning being released by the Indianapolis Colts.

    The economic realities of the times could force this move. Paying anyone with questionable health $28 million is not an option.

    With the Colts holding the top pick in the 2012 NFL draft, it is almost a certainty that they will draft Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.

    What the Colts do will dictate what others do.

    If they cut Manning, then it's almost a sure bet that Luck will be the Opening Day starter.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Blaine Gabbert

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    Last year, the Jacksonville Jaguars traded up in the first round of the draft to select Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

    The wisdom of that selection is now questionable.

    Former head coach Jack Del Rio cut former starter David Garrard in preseason, then installed Gabbert as the starter in Week 3.

    Gabbert was unprepared to be an NFL starter. He was the lowest-rated quarterback among regular starters.

    The Jaguars probably won't give up on him, though, but perhaps will bring in a veteran such as Kyle Orton to challenge and tutor Gabbert.

Kansas City Chiefs: Matt Cassel

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    At the start of last season, Matt Cassel looked to be firmly entrenched as the quarterback in Kansas City.

    Then he was injured. Kyle Orton finished the season as quarterback and Romeo Crennel was hired as head coach.

    Crennel has made comments indicating a possible interest in Peyton Manning if he's released by the Colts.

    Cassel and other key players missed a lot of time last year. Replacing him with Peyton Manning would only be a short-term fix.

    What the Chiefs need is for their players to stay healthy, and if they can, Cassel is capable of leading the team to another divisional title like he did in 2010.

Miami Dolphins: Matt Moore

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    The Dolphins still are looking for Dan Marino's replacement.

    The position has been a revolving door since his retirement in 1999.

    There has been speculation that new head coach Joe Philbin will attempt to lure Green Bay backup Matt Flynn in free agency.

    Moore led the team to a 6-3 finish in 2011 after a 0-7 start.

    Several of the losses weren't necessarily his fault, as their defense gave up fourth-quarter leads four times.

    Before spending millions on a player who has started two NFL games, the Dolphins should give Moore a full season to see what he can do.

New York Jets: Mark Sanchez

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    After quarterbacking the Jets into consecutive AFC Championship Games his first two years, Mark Sanchez and the Jets regressed last season.

    Of course, when a team falters, the quarterback often is blamed.

    The Jets are another team with reported interest in Peyton Manning, if available.

    Though unlikely, you can't count the Jets out as a possible landing spot for Manning.

    Sanchez was a player that the Jets traded up in the draft to obtain with the No. 5 pick just three years ago.

    To give up on him this soon would be an indictment against the judgment of Rex Ryan.

Seattle Seahawks: Matt Flynn

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    Most likely, the Seattle Seahawks realize they will only go so far with Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback.

    In a division that is getting tougher, they need to upgrade.

    The problem is that they won't draft high enough to be able to get either of the top two quarterback prospects.

    Their best shot is free agency.

    Several years ago, Seattle obtained Green Bay backup Matt Hasselbeck. Hasselbeck led them to their greatest seasons, including one NFC title.

    They hope to find gold in another Green Bay backup—Matt Flynn.

Washington Redskins: Peyton Manning

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    It will be a sad reality of the times if Peyton Manning finishes his career anywhere but Indianapolis.

    There is a good chance, though, that it becomes reality.

    When it does, the Redskins will be a top suitor.

    The Redskins are never afraid to make bold moves.

    They would probably like to obtain the second pick from the Rams and draft Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III.

    The Rams might be hesitant to trade their pick to an NFC team.

    If so, look for Washington to offer a boat load of money to Manning, and finish his career in Washington.