NFL Free Agency: 5 Most Likely Landing Spots for Marc Bulger
After enduring years of punishment behind poor offensive lines in St. Louis, Marc Bulger spent all of the 2010 season as Joe Flacco's backup on the Baltimore Ravens.
A year of rest and recovery appears to have done the veteran wonders.
Although he didn't take a snap that counted this season, strong performance in practices and glowing recommendations from his coaches have propelled Bulger's stock to the point where he'll be sought as a starter this offseason.
In his prime, Marc Bulger was as good of a gunslinger as any in the National Football League.
The two-time Pro Bowler was the fastest quarterback in NFL history to reach 1,000 career completions. His mark of 45 games bested those set by Kurt Warner (47), Drew Bledsoe (48), Peyton Manning (48) and Dan Marino (49)
Bulger has been credited for both his accuracy and his tendency to spread the ball around to different receivers, keeping opposing defenses off-balance.
He has been criticized for poor decision and bad leadership skills, leading to a mediocre 123:96 career touchdown to interception ratio with a 41-54 record.
Marc Bulger is 34 years old, but with only 95 starts under his belt, it appears as though he's still got more to prove.
What follows is a list of five teams, each of whom should consider Bulger for their vacant (or soon to be) starting quarterback job in 2011.
5. Seattle Seahawks
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Marc Bulger likely feels that he didn't live up to the six-year, $62.5 million extension he signed with the Rams in 2007.
The contract included $27 million in guaranteed money, but injuries and a lack of talent around Bulger led to the three worst seasons of his career.
Facing rehab and an eventual demotion to Sam Bradford, Bulger asked for his release last April.
One year later, the Rams have the only stable quarterback situation in the NFC West.
The least likely of their division-mates to pursue Bulger would be the defending champion Seattle Seahawks.
Pete Carroll, "Beast Mode" and company will likely look to get a quarterback of the future as soon as possible. A trade for the Eagles Kevin Kolb might eventually be in the works.
Carroll plans to stick this time, on his second go-around in pro football.
He knows that Sam Bradford is going to become his nemesis unless he can find a good young passer of his own.
Bulger could land here as a stopgap, but holding on to Matt Hasselbeck would seem more convenient for the Seahawks.
4. Tennesse Titans
Grant Halverson/Getty Images
Whether Vince Young has accepted it or not, he will not be back as the Titans quarterback next season.
Tennessee is an intriguing team with an underrated defense and two very nice offensive weapons in Chris Johnson and Kenny Britt.
New head coach and former offensive line coach Mitch Munchak is expected to lean heavily on Johnson and the running game moving forward.
Perhaps all that this team needs is an accurate and experienced quarterback to take them to the next level.
Bulger has stated that he'd like to play somewhere near his home in St. Louis. If that's the case, Tennessee might be the closest available option.
3. San Francisco 49ers
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Surely Jim Harbaugh wants to make an impact from year one in San Francisco.
The former NFL quarterback received a huge pay raise to take his act from Stanford to the professional ranks. His presence alone has raised expectations for this historic 49ers franchise.
His first decision will entail whether or not to retain Alex Smith.
The former No. 1 overall pick out of Utah has shown flashes of brilliance, but consistency issues have torpedoed his career.
With his contract expiring this offseason, I expect Harbaugh to wash his hands of Alex Smith and any identity that this team still has with past phases of management.
Marc Bulger could be a wonderful short-term solution here until Harbaugh is able to properly mentor a replacement.
Bulger would love a return to the NFC West to immediately compete with his former team.
2. Minnesota Vikings
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
With a good, but aging defense in a division with Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler and Matt Stafford, the Minnesota Vikings are going to need to throw the ball in order to win football games.
The Vikings won in 2010 when they played close and controlled the clock with their running game.
When they fell behind early, it was rare that Minnesota was able to right the ship and come back after going down two scores or more.
The Vikings have the skill players to run a single-back spread offense. But they lack a quarterback with experience in the system.
Marc Bulger fits the bill perfectly.
With the Vikings in win-now mode, and with their rivals fresh off a Super Bowl victory, the franchise will be looking to make an impact in the offseason.
Bulger might be the most attractive option towards restoring success quickly.
1. Arizona Cardinals
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Larry Fitzgerald is easily the biggest star in Arizona.
Despite the retirement of Kurt Warner and the departure of stablemate Anquan Boldin, Fitzgerald still had a respectable 2010. His 90 catches were 43 more than any other receiver on the team.
But a combination of Derek Anderson, John Skelton and Max Hall is not going to suffice at quarterback.
The Cardinals still have a lot of the talent on their team that made the Super Bowl in 2009.
All of their division rivals sport competitive rosters. If the Cardinals want to keep their star receiver happy, they need to get a quarterback who can get him the ball.
All signs indicate that Arizona is Bulger's most likely landing spot.
In terms of having success on the field and winning games, I think each of the other four teams is a more attractive career option for Marc Bulger.
But Arizona is the team who will probably offer the most money and the greatest guarantee of a starting position.
At this stage of Bulger's career, those factors will likely win out.