NFL Quarterback Issues: Breaking Down the Future of 10 Teams at the Position
Between the upcoming NFL Draft and the free agent frenzy (surrounded by the availability of Peyton Manning), there are a fair share of quarterbacks that could find themselves off starting for a new team next season.
There are even more teams that are looking to fill that void, whether by taking a seasoned veteran or a fresh face straight out of the college ranks.
Either way, these teams may feel the need to bring in a new guy for the most important position on the field. And with the league becoming so passer-friendly, it's easy to see why teams are searching for an upgrade at the quarterback.
So while the main focus may be on Manning this offseason, all the teams that lose out on the future Hall of Famer's sweepstakes must find an alternative.
Here's how things could shake out for 10 teams that need an improvement at quarterback.
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Yes, that image isn't one that Arizona Cardinals fans want to see come next year.
With the less-than-impressive numbers put up by John Skelton mixed with the highly under-performing play of Kevin Kolb, the Cardinals had a tough time getting much production from their offense.
While the image of Peyton Manning throwing a beautiful spiral to Larry Fitzgerald may seem like the ideal scene, it's a highly unlikely one.
The Kolb signing may indeed go to waste, but any way you look at it, they will coughing up the money to him for quite some time. Skelton, a former fifth-round draft pick, nearly had better numbers than Kolb during the 2011 season.
This is after Kolb signed a huge deal before last season, which was quickly regretted once the season began. So despite the outside shot at Manning, Don't look for Arizona to make a move if they can't grab the prized free agent.
And that means a battle for the starting spot between Kolb and Skelton come August, whether the Arizona faithful want it.
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Matt Flynn has been regularly linked to Miami and Washington, as well as Kansas City.
But with the Dolphins presumably being the front-runner in the race to sign Peyton Manning, and the Redskins dealing with the Rams for the right to take Robert Griffin III, Flynn may indeed fall to a different franchise.
That franchise could certainly be the Cleveland Browns. Colt McCoy has not exactly been a franchise quarterback, but much of that credit, or lack thereof, could just as easily be placed on the lack of talent around him.
While Cleveland may be willing to stick with the University of Texas grad for at least one more season, Flynn is an intriguing sign.
Though Flynn's story coming into free agency is much like the ones with Matt Cassel and Kevin Kolb (neither have worked out that well), the Browns may feel desperate enough to take a new starting quarterback now.
And with many teams going in different directions, the Browns may have an open door to grab Matt Flynn in hopes of finding a solid addition at the quarterback position.
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With the release of Peyton Manning becoming a reality, it's clear the Indianapolis Colts are moving towards the future.
And even with Robert Griffin's performance this season with Baylor, and his tremendous results at the combine, it looks as if Indy has long been sold on Andrew Luck with the first overall pick.
With many veterans either retiring or being released from the team, the Colts will start their rebuilding process around Luck, the "can't-miss" prospect as many NFL experts have branded him.
Though it was difficult releasing the best player in franchise history, paying Peyton Manning a $28 million signing bonus never seemed plausible.
Still, by releasing the Hall of Famer Manning, the Colts showed great confidence in the man that they will hand the offensive reins to starting next fall.
If history matters at all, at least the Colts had success the last time they used the overall first pick on a quarterback.
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This is not matter of what the Jacksonville Jaguars should do, but rather what they will do.
Blaine Gabbert was a rookie last season. Rookies, especially ones at the quarterback position, take quite a bit of time before they fully progress. But the excuse of being a rookie is stretched too far with Gabbert.
The Jaguars will likely stand by their top draft pick last year, even after a horrible debut season in which he seemed almost afraid of pressure throughout each game.
Though they would never admit it, David Garrard would have done Gabbert a lot of good last season if Jacksonville had not released him. Garrard may or may not have been a solid mentor to Gabbert, but at least the latter would have had more time to learn the offense before being fed to the wolves.
That's not to say that Gabbert shouldn't be blamed for the futile showing of the Jacksonville passing game. He was on the verge of pathetic most of the season, and never took many chances at all.
With the Jags nowhere near offering Peyton Manning a contract, look for Gabbert to be right back in the starting role next season, hopefully with a veteran backup to guide him against NFL defenses.
Kansas City Chiefs
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With Kyle Orton headed to free agency, it would seem the Kansas City Chiefs would have to rely on Matt Cassel at quarterback if they are unsuccessful in their attempt to lure Peyton Manning.
But that may not be the case. Though Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill will be off the board (unless the Chiefs trade up for the latter), Brandon Weeden is still an intriguing add in the second or third round.
His age has been a major concern for many teams, and may cause him to drop to the third round. For Kansas City, it would allow them to fill other holes on their roster before drafting Weeden, who would compete with Cassel for the starting QB job this summer.
The move seems logical for the Chiefs, a team that will have to pull out all the stops to grab Manning. Though Weeden will be nowhere near a comparison to Manning during his career, Kansas City would have a nice backup plan in the event that Cassel does not stay healthy.
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Even with the race to grab Peyton Manning still wide open, Miami appears the front-runner.
And though we can't just automatically believe everything ESPN tells us, there are many reasons Miami would be the place for Manning to end his career.
Along with playmakers would come the huge asset of Jake Long, one of the best blind-side protectors in all of football.
Manning would be surrounded by a competitive squad, one that could give New England a handful in 2012. And wherever he goes, Manning wants to be able to win. And he can easily do a lot of that in Miami.
With the city boasting many of the best athletes in the world already (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Serena and Venus Williams, etc.), it's hard to see Manning not wanting to mingle with the other greats when he's not dissecting every centimeter of game film.
In addition, Manning already has a home in Miami, where he stays during the offseason. With this said, Miami has a lot to give Peyton, and they are throwing all their chips into the middle of the table.
They will get rewarded for it.
New York Jets
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Day by day, the likelihood of Mark Sanchez having competition at quarterback come training camp grew stronger.
That is until he signed a contract extention with the Jets, thereby gaining confidence in his status as the starting quarterback. But that doesn't mean the Jets shouldn't sign someone to push Sanchez.
But above all, New York should find Jason Campbell as the proper suitor to challenge Sanchez. Campbell by no means is a elite NFL quarterback, but he brings enough brains and toughness to handle New York.
Campbell has recently run into injury problems, but it's worth the Jets giving him a contract. He would be a veteran presence, and someone that would light a fire under Sanchez.
However, Sanchez response will tell the Jets' front office what action to take. If he responds with more work, and in return, better play, then they will be much better off.
And if he can't handle the heat of competition, then the Jets will go forward with Campbell under center.
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Much like Arizona, the Seattle Seahawks thought they had found a quarterback that could lead them in the future when they signed Tarvaris Jackson before last season.
What they got was a consistently average (if that) quarterback that looked at times unprepared to lead. So with his lack of strong performances, Jackson has thrown the starting job in Seattle back up for grabs.
Though they are a dark horse to sign Peyton Manning, Seattle must set their sights on someone more realistic, and they likely will do so through the draft.
When looking at the draft, the Seahawks had an outside chance of trading up to draft Robert Griffin III. But the reality of a division rival (Rams) giving Seattle that kind of ammunition for many years to come seemed unimaginable, as it was.
Seeing as how they would be in line for the third best quarterback in the draft, Ryan Tannehill could be the man for the job. Though there is an injury concern, Seattle would be wise to draft Tannehill over signing the likes of a Donovan McNabb or David Garrard.
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It's safe to say that Matt Hasselbeck's best days are behind him. It would also be ridiculous to say that he shouldn't start in the league anymore.
Hasselbeck's 2011 campaign was an overall success, even though he did not quite push the Tennessee Titans in the playoffs.
But despite not getting to the next stage, a 9-7 season was a positive sign in Tennessee. Hasselbeck showed that he still had the skills, and as always, the leadership, to control the reins of the Titans offense.
That sooner or later could change, not because of poor play by Hasselbeck, but rather due to the emergence of the quarterback-in-waiting, Jake Locker.
Locker was solid in his short stint filling in for Hasselbeck, and is guaranteed to fight him for the starting spot this summer.
I see Hasselbeck winning this competition, and putting in one last year as a starter in Tennessee. He has been a solid mentor for Locker, and Locker has been extremely respectful towards him.
Hasselbeck will get the first shot, but Locker won't be waiting in the wings much longer.
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They should be dancing in the streets in our nation's capitol today.
By trading up to the No. 2 pick in the draft, as many presumed they would, the Washington Redskins will have the rights to draft Robert Griffin III, possibly the best player in the draft (that's just me saying that), and easily the most exciting.
Dan Snyder, who has been looking for franchise quarterback for quite sometime, should finally have his guy.
Other teams in the hunt to trade up to the second selection were Cleveland, Seattle and Kansas City. But the Browns have too many other issues that they need to address in the draft, and Seattle is a division rival.
With Kansas City being deep in the sprint for Peyton Manning, it left Washington as the clear favorite. And despite some whispers that Manning could go to D.C., the best move for the Redskins was trading up for Griffin.
With a potential upgrade in free agency at the wide receiver position, and a great offensive mind at head coach, Griffin will have help around him that he needs to succeed.
And more importantly, the Redskins will have their franchise quarterback.