The acquisition of former Pro Bowl QB Marc Bulger via free agency from the St. Louis Rams is correctly being lauded as a strong move by Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome- the latest in a string of good moves by the "Wizard of Oz" this offseason.
However, it is extremely unlikely that the Ravens would carry 4 quarterbacks on their active roster this season. Obviously, Joe Flacco is safe: he's the starter. Similarly, Bulger is safe, as he wasn't signed to be cut. That leaves QBs John Beck and Troy Smith.
Two factors point to Smith leaving Baltimore: first, he's asked for a trade in the past- he correctly assumes that he'll be behind Flacco as long as he stays in Baltimore, and he understandably wants to play. Second, his trade value is likely higher (read: existent) relative to Beck.
Smith will probably be with the Ravens through training camp, but expect Smith to be dealt for a later round pick sometime during the preseason.
Here are the Top 10 places that Troy Smith could end up (provided that he is not kept in Baltimore and Beck is cut, which I think is a possibility).
There are five places that I think are likely trade destinations for Smith, and five other places where I think he could end up.
I know, crazy, right? Working against this destination is the simple fact of the matter that New England has tended to develop its own QBs, which has happened twice: most notably with Tom Brady behind Drew Bledsoe, but more recently with Matt Cassell, now in Kansas City, behind Tom Brady.
The Patriots do have other young QBs on the roster, and so if they like their guys, there would be no real reason to bring in another developmental QB. However, if guys like Brian Hoyer haven't impressed the Patriots' staff, a different developmental QB who has been in the league a few years might warrant a closer look.
Obviously, Smith wouldn't be a starter here barring injury, but given Bill Belichick's penchant for trades I don't think New England can be ruled out.
I know there hasn't necessarily been a lot of talk about Tennessee as one of Smith's possible landing spots, but looking at the Titans' roster this move just makes too much sense. Typically, teams like to keep the same kind of QBs on their roster so that the offense does not have to change by a significant amount when the backup is on the field.
Vince Young, while he has become more of a drop-back QB (watch the Arizona game from last year if you don't believe me), retains his scrambling abilities that made him one of college football's most dangerous dual threat players; he would certainly be classified as a mobile QB. Troy Smith, similarly, can move around in the pocket, buy time with his legs, and even scramble for a first down if he's desperate.
Kerry Collins is of an entirely different mold than Vince Young, and on top of that, he's really up there in age. Smith could very well be a starter for a few weeks if he beats out Collins for the No. 2 job and Young ends up suspended by the league for his recent altercation at a nightclub.
This might be the ideal situation for Smith: he'd likely be brought in as the starter, or at least, given a shot to compete for the starting job (which I believe he would win). Going up against rookie Levi Brown, career backup Ryan Fitzpatrick, draft bust Brian Brohm, and the uninspiring Trent Edwards, Smith would become the latest addition to a stable of unproven Buffalo QBs. However, with the exception of late-round draftee Brown, none of the above QBs were drafted by Chan Gailey.
Translation? He has no attachment to any of those guys and Smith wouldn't be a leg up or down.
While Smith would get to play, the talent around him, other than at the RB position, isn't that great. Still, it would probably be better than sitting on the bench in Baltimore, and behind a leaky offensive line, a mobile QB would probably help.
I really like Buffalo as a potential landing spot.
I know Mike Shanahan already made his blockbuster trade for ex-Eagles QB Donovan McNabb, but Shanahan didn't get the chance to draft one of his own developmental QBs in a later round thanks to Vinny Cerrato's tendency to trade draft picks away for peanuts. Therefore, I think there's a real chance Smith could wind up in Washington as McNabb's backup.
The former Heisman Trophy winner would be in a position to play spot duty- McNabb rarely plays for a full season anymore- and he's shown in limited duty that he has some talent. Plus, he's mobile- behind a shallow, leaky Washington offensive line, that could also be a plus.
In reality, there just aren't a lot of places where Smith would be given a shot to compete for the starting job. However, Houston didn't select a developmental QB in the draft, and after Matt Schaub, the only QBs that are currently on their roster are former USC Trojan John David Booty... and of course, one Dan Orlovsky.
You know, the guy who ran out of bounds for a safety and didn't realize it during the Detroit Lions' 0-16 season- him (he's about to run out in the picture).
I'd say that Smith would be a pretty clear upgrade over Orlovsky, and while Schaub stayed healthy for all 16 games last year, he hasn't done that often in his career and it would be a good idea to have a backup with some ability who could step in. If the Texans decide that Smith is such a guy, Troy Smith could very easily end up in a Texans uniform.
Booty would also be working against Smith here, but was the odd man out in Minnesota following the deal for Sage Rosenfels and reportedly struggled with the Vikings' system. I haven't heard similar complaints from the Texans, but the constant stream of praise that the Ravens give Troy Smith would seem to indicate that Smith would be an upgrade over Booty, as well.
While Smith has been linked to Cleveland in terms of his own interest in the past, his then-agent famously stating, "Troy would crawl to Cleveland to be able to play there," the interest did not seem to be reciprocated by the Browns organization, and while I do think Smith would still love to go to Cleveland, this scenario seems unlikely to me.
The problem is that Mike Holmgren was admittedly highly influential with the selection of former Texas QB Colt McCoy, who has become Cleveland's developmental QB, and maybe even QB of the future. Furthermore, I doubt the Ravens would want to trade a player they think highly of, as they do of Smith, within the division.
Seems like a long shot to me, but is worth mentioning because of all the press surrounding this move previously.
The Saints really should win the NFC South again this season, despite the up and coming Falcons, and so Smith might be happy to go to this team. However, he would of course not get much of a chance to play, barring injury. He could end up as a clear No. 2 QB for this team and learn from one of the game's elite QBs in Drew Brees.
Again, though, he probably wouldn't get much of a chance to play... and that's why he's been disgruntled in Baltimore. Buyer beware for the Saints on picking up Smith here.
Another situation where Smith would get a shot to be the No. 2 guy, this scenario would only play out if Indy decided that its stable of QBs on the roster were not good enough to be real No. 2 guys and that someone else would need to be brought in. Also working against Smith here is the presence of recent Bill Polian draftee Curtis Painter, who seems to be the Colts' developmental project at QB and looks to be the guy who the Colts hope will seize the No. 2 job.
This could happen but only if the Colts decided to try and upgrade from what they currently have on their roster (the Colts currently have 5 quarterbacks signed). And, of course, Smith would never see the field because of the guy pictured, so you wonder about whether Smith would be happy in Indianapolis despite learning from one of the best QBs in NFL history.
It's a well known fact that Jacksonville's coach, Jack Del Rio, is on the hot seat entering this year, and while Garrard hasn't exactly been bad the previous two years, the Jaguars expect more from their big-contract signal caller. Garrard hasn't been the player he was two years ago, and unless he recaptures that magic, this could be his last year as a starter in the NFL.
Garrard himself has said as much, and he's putting in the extra time because he knows that he's under the gun.
However, because Del Rio's seat is so warm, he might very well look to make a change at the QB position late in the year to save his job. Luke McCown is a career backup; this is where the acquisition of Troy Smith factors in. If Jacksonville's front office views him as having starter potential, bringing in the former Ohio State star makes sense as an insurance policy.
Smith would have to earn the job and get lucky here, and with a change in management possibly forthcoming, the situation might not be the most stable one. But ultimately it isn't Smith's call where he goes- and if the Jags are feeling lucky, they might inquire about Smith's availability.
I'd say this is the least likely outcome- Smith is a player who gets rave reviews from the coaching staff and his teammates. But he is a backup, after all, and if he talks about a starting job that no one wants to give to him, teams might prefer to simply develop their own talent—not every player is coveted like Charlie Whitehurst was by Seattle (which would have been a potential destination if not for that trade).
Even if Smith is waived by the Ravens—the only way he gets here, of course—someone else might give him a shot as a free agent.
But if Beck plays better than Smith, the NFL is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league. Smith could very well get the boot and be waiting by his phone for a couple of weeks- perhaps even longer.