The list of free-agent quarterbacks who could step into starting roles in 2011 is slim, to say the least.
As you scroll through the names, only a handful stand out as strong possibilities—Matt Hasselbeck, Marc Bulger, Kerry Collins and Alex Smith—while others, like Matt Leinart and Seneca Wallace, might be worth a look for a few teams.
For some of these QBs, their best-case scenario is to stay put. For others, a change of scenery is a chance to revive a career.
Let's look at four veteran players who can start immediately.
Caught somewhere between being the face of a franchise and being over the hill, Matt Hasselbeck is undoubtedly still capable of starting-quarterback status in the NFL—if not with the Seattle Seahawks, there are other West Coast systems that would welcome him with open arms.
Nevermind the nagging injuries that have compounded over the past three years.
Hasselbeck still only managed to miss two starts in each of the past two seasons. And the 12th man is still buzzing over his four-touchdown Wild Card playoff performance against the New Orleans Saints in January.
The Hawks have designated the QB position one of uncertainty, so it remains to be seen how important an aging, but still effective, Matt Hasselbeck is to the future of the organization.
Marc Bulger's services have been rumored in Arizona, where a talented Cardinals team could be a veteran quarterback away from competing in the NFC West.
The loss of Kurt Warner sent this team south in a hurry. And even though he is no Kurt Warner—never was, never will be—Bulger did well taking over for Warner in St. Louis back in 2002.
Could it happen again in Arizona? All signs are pointing to yes.
Even though he's 38 years old now, don't dismiss Kerry Collins' ability to still serve as an effective NFL starter.
He might already be in his best-possible scenario in Tennessee. Titans GM Mike Reinfeldt said Collins will "be in the mix" there, which makes sense.
Collins seems like the perfect mentoring option while Jake Locker gets ready to take over.
Alex Smith has had a tumultuous six-year NFL career. The first-overall pick of the 2005 NFL Draft hasn't exactly lived up to the lofty expectations in San Francisco.
But there he remains—at least for now.
Smith has been hot and cold while being given ample opportunity to lead the Niners. But he's played under defensive-minded head coaches. Not to make excuses for his erratic play, but a change at the top, with an offensive brain, might make a difference.
Enter new head coach Jim Harbaugh. He has all but handed the 2011 starting job to Smith, which makes sense for both parties. Smith has a playbook and he's working out with teammates—unofficially, of course—in the Bay Area.
But how long will it be before 2011 second-round draft choice Colin Kaepernick takes over as the quarterback of the future in San Francisco?
Smith will most likely remain with the Niners this season. But without a tremendous turnaround and more consistent play, his days are numbered.