A new sheriff in town? Michael Vick out of Philadelphia? It's crazy, but believe it or not there is a slight possibility that the NFL won't be the same place we have all come to love next year in the 2011 season.
In the grand scheme of things, free agency is always a hotly debated issue. Players come, they go, and as much as there is a 50 percent success rate with a new team and a new head coach, the offseason period is always good for some "water cooler chat."
This time around the bend, we are in for a wild storm. Peyton Manning's contract is about to run out in Indianapolis, Michael Vick's two-year deal is slowly coming to a halt and somehow Donovan McNabb finds himself in the free agency pool after just one year as a Washington Redskin.
So who's going and who's staying?
Predicting the NFL's free-agency class is almost as hard as picking winning lottery numbers. Nonetheless, here's a quick peak at the Top 10 available QBs in 2011, along with where they may or may not wind up come next season.
Current Team: Pittsburgh Steelers
Where He May Wind Up: Washington, Pittsburgh, Arizona.
Filling in for Ben Roethlisberger during a five-week game suspension implemented by the league, Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch made short work of opposing teams in Big Ben's absence, leading the Steelers to an impressive 3-1 record in the early goings.
In similar fashion to Shaun Hill, the name Dennis Dixon isn't often associated with talent. Often raw and questionably skilled at times, Dixon has had both great and dull moments under center for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
For the most part though, Dennis Dixon is still a player that is yet to come out of his shell.
Unfortunately, this season Dixon's dismal 254 yards and one interception on the year don't spell out a great deal of interest from possible market-goers, although the intrigue surrounding a third-year quarterback brought up by one of the league's best offensive teams could perk up a few bidders.
It's a major question of "if" rather than "when" for Dennis Dixon. Is he doomed to spend his career as a backup quarterback? Who knows? It would be nice to see him given a fair crack at a starting role sometime soon though.
Current Team: Miami Dolphins
Where He May Wind Up: Miami, Kansas City, Jacksonville, Buffalo.
From the Kansas City Chiefs to the Miami Dolphins, Tyler Thigpen hasn't experienced his greatest year under head coach Tony Sparano, although his time as the starting quarterback has been short-lived in recent weeks.
The thing to consider when taking a look at Tyler Thigpen is his 2008 season in Kansas City. Passing for 2,608 yards and 18 touchdowns may seem fairly routine for a quarterback like Peyton Manning, but considering Thigpen managed to post these stats with a struggling Chiefs team looks all the more impressive on paper.
Tyler Thigpen's future is unclear in Miami right now, as not only do the Dolphins have a coaching situation to sort out, they are also uncertain on Chad Henne heading into 2011. If one was to take a guess right now it does appear that Henne is the preferred starter for Tunatown, but all of that could change in the blink of an eye.
Miami may be wise to hang on to Thigpen while they can; after all he has only been in Dolphins blue and orange since 2009. Extending Thigpen's contract is one issue—his performance though is another.
Current Team: Detroit Lions
Where He May Wind Up: Detroit, Minnesota, Carolina, Seattle
The Detroit Lions have once again taken on board a Titanic type approach to the 2010 season, slipping to an awkward 3-10 record on the year despite many promising and determined signs shown throughout the regular season.
With starting quarterback Matt Stafford injured in the early weeks of play, nine-year veteran Shaun Hill stepped under center for the first time in his new hometown, allowing the entire Motor City to take a deep breath for a very rocky season ahead.
What went on to unfold on the field though was extremely unexpected. Fifteen weeks into the regular season Hill is the Lions' leading passer, having thrown for 2,206 yards and 13 touchdowns overall. Sure, it could be said that Hill's interception ratio isn't all that pretty, but at the end of the day Jim Schwartz has to be happy with his sturdy replacement.
Therefore, given Hill's underrated rise to the top, his 2010 season makes him one of the more desirable free-agent quarterbacks on the market. In all reality no big-time franchises will coming knocking on Hill's door, but at the same time any quarterback-needy team is likely to take a glimpse at him.
Teams such as Seattle, Minnesota and Carolina all come to mind, so keep an eye out for Hill's name come the offseason.
Current Team: Miami Dolphins
Where He May Wind Up: Retired, Miami.
Let's face it, the glory days of Chad Pennington are slowly disappearing on the horizon. Injured during his first start for the Dolphins in 2010, Pennington's pesky shoulder injury is now looking career-threatening with three weeks remaining in the season.
While hardcore Jets fans still thank Pennington for years of hard work, it is sad to see one of the NFL's true veterans fade out with not as much as a whisper. Still, not all hope is lost just yet for No. 10, as a spot in free agency may reignite the 11-year player's career for a new team.
Overall in Pennington's career he has thrown for 17,823 yards and 102 touchdowns. What is more promising though, is the fact that the old-timer has only thrown 64 interceptions during his time with both New York and Miami.
"Free agency or bust" could be the slogan for Pennington right now, even though his career and fitness are still the major question. It's not over until the fat lady sings, but it doesn't look 100 percent positive at this point in time.
Current Team: Tennessee Titans
Where He May Wind Up: Tennessee, Retired.
Another one of the league's older quarterbacks cracks this list, as Kerry Collins is now up for adoption when he enters the free-agency market at the end of this season.
If it hasn't been filling in for the injured Vince Young, Kerry Collins has experienced a rollercoaster ride of a year. Currently the former starting man sits with 1,051 yards and eight touchdowns on the year, and is still a chance to remain at the helm in Tennessee in the coming years.
Just like Chad Pennington however, age is playing a serious factor for Collins right now. Sixteen years into his career, Collins could easily walk away from the game with his head held high, even though his career hasn't been quite as satisfying as he may have hoped.
It's a tough question to answer really, but due time should inform us all. In the meantime, keep an eye on Collins in the next few weeks; his play could indicate whether or not he intends to return to Tennessee in 2011.
Current Team: Minnesota Vikings
Where He May Wind Up: Vikings, Redskins.
The end of a legend is set to kick off in the next three weeks, with Brett Favre ultimately leaving the NFL and heading back to his beloved hometown of Mississippi. In the wake of the upcoming events though, sits one man named Tarvaris Jackson, who has a very shady future ahead.
If the Vikings intend to maintain terms with Tarvaris Jackson they simply must utilize him in the next three weeks. Developing Jackson has been a tough task for the past three or so years, but with Favre now riding out into the sunset, a perfect opportunity presents itself.
Before we go ahead and jump the gun too much however, the Vikings may totally change their minds this offseason. Pending some kind of big trade or high quarterback draft pick, Tarvaris Jackson's free-agency status could result in No. 7 finding a new home in due time.
Right now Minnesota needs him—in the future, who knows. Jackson himself is unclear on his future, and if Minnesota doesn't keep a leash on him while it can, another willing bidder may make a surprise move come next year.
Current Team: Washington Redskins
Where He May Wind Up: Washington, Minnesota.
Coaching issues have struck the Redskins franchise in the past fortnight, with Mike Shanahan remaining stubborn and aggressive toward the media who are still reeling for answers as to whether or not Donovan McNabb will start in the next few weeks.
Aside from the problem at hand though, one giant disaster could be waiting in the long months of the offseason. With McNabb's one-year deal coming to an end, the Redskins are faced with a tough situation regarding McNabb's future with the team, or a possible trade.
For months, the words "McNabb" and the "Vikings" have been tossed about. No clear word has been mentioned just yet, but it is still a possible scenario to ponder when the months of March and April become a little dull.
Donovan McNabb is no doubt a hot topic on the league's market for next season, so it's obvious to say that the former Philadelphia Eagle won't rot away in free agency anytime soon.
Current Team: Philadelphia Eagles
Where He May Wind Up: Philadelphia.
Controversy originally struck the Philadelphia Eagles franchise just under two years ago, when Andy Reid and company decided to take a gamble on signing newly reinstated quarterback Michael Vick to a two-year deal.
Boy how right the Eagles were.
Two-and-a-half years down the track Michael Vick has excelled in Philadelphia, seeing out the glory days of Donovan McNabb followed by the brief tenure of Kevin Kolb earlier this year.
Through all of the MVP-like performances and possible Super Bowl winning thoughts mind you, Michael Vick is no exact certainty to be returning to Philadelphia.
Why is that?
Purely due to the money factor, as teams will be queuing up to get their hands on Philadelphia's prize possession. Of course, one could say that Vick owes it to the Eagles to stay in the City of Brotherly Love; after all, this is the team that gave him a second chance.
As we all know though, money speaks a totally different language, so expect some high seven-digit dollar signs to pop up if the Eagles don't act smartly at the end of the year.
Current Team: Minnesota Vikings
Where He May Wind Up: Retired.
Three weeks to go and 20 years of fond and loving memories to go with it. Yes NFL fans the time seems to have finally come, as Brett Favre is looking to retire and put his two-year stay with the Minnesota Vikings well and truly behind him.
Looking past all of the retirement dilemmas that fans have faced in the past three years, Brett Favre will of course struggle to live without football. That being said, the injury wear and tear that has begun to pile up for Favre surely won't be missed.
Free agency awaits a player that perhaps has no interest in the matter. Favre himself is finally looking to hang up his boots, and after expressing small regret after returning in 2010, it is no wonder No. 4 is looking to give it up.
Current Team: Indianapolis Colts
Where He May Wind Up: Indianapolis
The Sheriff Peyton Manning sees the end of his contract draw to an end following this year's regular season, after 13 straight years manning the Colts explosive offense.
If there was ever a question as to where Manning would wind up, it is of course Indianapolis. Not only is Peyton Manning the best quarterback in Indianapolis since Johnny Unitas, the chances of the Colts allowing their franchise player to leave is slim to nil.
Thirteen weeks into the year Manning is still trying to force his team into the playoffs. The Jacksonville Jaguars continue to control the AFC South, and even though Manning hasn't had his usual MVP style year, the playoffs are a very strong chance for Jim Caldwell's team.
Free agency is last on the list of priorities for the Colts and Manning, nonetheless though this issue will be a hot topic when the free-agency gates spring open. Leaving Indianapolis? Highly doubtful...Manning will forever be a Colt in blue and white.