2011 NFL Free Agency: Analysis of Quarterback Market and Moves
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
With the lockout ending, the free agency situation around the league is in open season, and there are more plot lines than an episode of Lost. None of these developments are more important than at the quarterback position.
However, when you take a closer look at the possibilities, developments and connections, it looks more like the tangled relationships of a 20-something than any type of coherent plan to find a capable and viable option. The same teams are fighting over and giving up the same guys only to discover that they aren’t going to really help them out in the long run. But enough of that…here are all the juicy details!
Brett Favre to the Philadelphia Eagles?
Will he ever retire? The Eagles are throwing around the idea of bringing in Brett Favre as Michael Vick's backup
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Are you kidding me? If I had seen this headline after the end of the 2010 season, I wouldn’t have been able to believe it! However, in recent news it appears that the Eagles are kicking around the idea of signing Brett Favre as Michael Vick’s backup in Philadelphia.
My main question is why?! Favre is a walking circus of attention. Only months ago Favre was in the news for a sexting scandal with Jenn Sterger. In addition to the scandal, Favre finally had a monumental meltdown against the Jets in Week 5. After 20 seasons in the NFL, how many more horrifying Favre comebacks must we endure until he is finally gone for good? Last season, as quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings, Brett Favre hit the 500 touchdown mark and the 70,000 passing yards mark, but it was apparent that keeping Favre limping along cost them their coach, Brad Childress. In the 12 games Favre started, the Vikings had a 4-8 record.
What’s unsettling in the situation is Michael Vick’s open arms welcoming of Favre. He recently tweeted: “I would be honored to have Brett Favre as a backup. That will be amazing Learning how to toy with defenses the way he did his whole career.” Vick doesn’t know what he’s talking about! Favre could severely hamper his own development and create a negative environment if an injury takes him off the field for a few weeks.
Also, the volatile nature of Philadelphia’s fan base means a few poor outings could have fans screaming for the three-time NFL MVP to take the helm in favor of Vick, whose over-sized ego would definitely get antsy as a backup. The funny thing about courting a proven competitor is how McNabb welcomed in Vick after being released from prison, and within a few short seasons, McNabb was on his way out for Kolb, who was replaced by Vick after an injury.
Kevin Kolb to the Arizona Cardinals
Kevin Kolb will be brought in for the Cardinals to restore some sort of semblance of a passing game
Al Bello/Getty Images
The Arizona Cardinals have reached a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles for Kevin Kolb. Apart from the deal, Kolb signed a 5-year extension to his current 1-year contract for an additional $63 mil, with $22 mil guaranteed.
In my opinion, Kolb is still very raw and green. He has seen limited in-game NFL experience. In four seasons with the Eagles, he has seen action in 19 games, about a season and a half. When he has been able to throw the ball and “show his stuff” he has had very mixed results. His TD-to-INT ratio at this point is 11 TDs to 14 INTs.
Despite his unproven mediocrity, the Cardinals are willing to give up a proven, star cornerback in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a draft pick. At the quarterback position however, the Cardinals have struggled to find anyone able to replace Kurt Warner.
Do I think that Kolb is the answer in Arizona? Honestly, no. I think that he will fare as well as Derek Anderson, John Skelton and Max Hall did all of 2010. I don’t think Kolb is an upgrade from any of those alternatives and to give up DRC for him is a mistake. The promising pieces of Ken Whisenhunt’s 2008 Super Bowl team seem to have all left, leaving the Cardinals to return to the mediocrity that has marked their franchise since its founding.
Donovan McNabb to the Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings are looking for a new savior since the departure of Brett Favre.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Donovan McNabb has thrived on teams where he was surrounded by talent. While quarterbacking the Philadelphia Eagles for 11 seasons, in a system that had little change or fluctuation under the leadership of Andy Reid, McNabb thrived. His lifetime quarterback rating sits at a mediocre 85.7 in his 12 seasons, and last year with the Redskins, it dipped to 77.1 as he threw for 14 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. The season included an embarrassing benching for the team’s backup, Rex Grossman. At the start of the season, the Redskins were looking for a savior in McNabb, and were sorely disappointed.
In a similar situation as last year’s Redskins, the Minnesota Vikings are looking for a new savior after Brett Favre’s perennial retirement at the end of the 2010 season. In 2011, however, the Vikings’ captains didn’t plan any trips to Hattiesburg, MS to pull Brett off his couch and out of retirement. Surprisingly enough, however, the Eagles (McNabb’s original team) are interested in acquiring Favre’s services (FAIL!).
This move by the Vikings is a case of not learning from experience. The Vikings front office seems to repeat folly that another team has proved (Remember Favre with the Jets?) at the quarterback position with every personnel move they make. This move is not going to benefit the Vikings, who have already lost Tavaris Jackson to free agency and can hopefully bring along Christian Ponder with McNabb’s tutelage. Ponder is excited to work with McNabb so that is a plus. He recently tweeted: “Excited to have McNabb join. Will learn a lot from a Pro Bowler. But that doesn’t mean I’m not still fighting to start week 1!”
My bet is that by mid-season the Vikes will have benched McNabb to give Ponder a shot, who will fare only slightly better than McNabb.
The Vikings acquired McNabb in exchange for a 2012 sixth-round pick and a conditional sixth-round pick in 2013. The trade was contingent on McNabb agreeing to restructure the five-year, $78 million extension he signed with the Redskins.
Kyle Orton to Miami Dolphins?
Kyle Orton has yet to find a home this season
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
The most likely place for Kyle Orton to land would be with the Miami Dolphins. This may or may not happen before NFL teams can sign free agents officially. If a deal is not done for a trade before then, in all likelihood the Broncos would release Orton to free up cap room to sign free agents.
The Dolphins are looking for a leader at the quarterback position and do not believe they have found it in Chad Henne. Also, the Dolphins recently signed Pat Devlin, an undrafted rookie out of Delaware. Orton would most likely do well in Miami, but may lack the supporting cast to make any noticeable strides in the AFC East.
The Broncos are looking to get some value of unloading Kyle Orton's $7+ mil contract. They are looking for a decent draft pick to receive in return for the trade. If the deal falls through and Denver is forced to release Orton there may be other suitors interested in his services:
It is also rumored that Orton may land in Arizona. Kevin Kolb has been linked with the Cardinals since the Eagles announced that it hoped to trade Kolb. The fact that Kolb is unproven might cause the Cardinals to also pursue Orton in hopes to bring in competition for Kolb, or insurance if Kolb ends up as a bust.
The other possibility for Orton may be the Washington Redskins, whose stable of quarterbacks include John Beck and Rex Grossman, both of which have never shown consistency or great ability at the quarterback spot. Kellen Clemens was added also through free agency to compete for the starting job.
Vince Young to ???
Vince Young needs a new home and I feel sorry for that team
J. Meric/Getty Images
Vince Young may be pursued by the same teams trying to land Kyle Orton. However, the bad attitude and defiance of Vince Young are working against him in his search for new employment. His public rebellion against his former coach Jeff Fisher sticks in my mind of some ego-maniac who thinks he is amazing that is pouting like a child who didn’t get his way!
Vince Young could go to Philadelphia and be a more viable backup than Brett Favre once the Eagles come to their senses.
Another place looking for a backup could be Oakland. The Raiders seemed content to let Bruce Gradkowski go, and might need a value backup.
Matt Hasselbeck to the Tennessee Titans
Hasselbeck will be in a better position this season than last with the Tennessee Titans
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
The end of the attitude issues and temper tantrums which marked the Vince Young era in Tennessee will hopefully be over. The Titans have come to terms with the even-keel, hard-working, fun-loving, likable Matt Hasselbeck who was recently released by the Seattle Seahawks. Hasselbeck has had pedestrian stats in his 13 years of experience in the NFL. But he does possess intangibles at the quarterback position which have kept him employed in the NFL for that long. Hasselbeck reminds me of McNabb in that he is getting up there in years and has never been spectacular, but I do think he is the right fit in Tennessee.
Last season with the Seahawks, his sieve-like offensive line let him get sacked 29 times. The Titans offensive line is much improved over the Seahawks, and the threat of the amazing Chris Johnson in the backfield will take the pressure off of Hasselbeck’s shoulders to carry the team. One example of Hasselbeck’s intangibles include his seven touchdowns against only one interception in the postseason last year. He had a passer rating of 102.4 and led the Seahawks past the New Orleans Saints, the 2009 Super Bowl Champions.
Tavaris Jackson to the Seattle Seahawks
Tavaris Jackson has been brought in to compete with Whitehurst and Leinart to replace Hasselbeck
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Tavaris Jackson was acquired by Seattle recently to compete with Charlie Whitehurst for the starting quarterback position.
It was also initially reported that Matt Leinart would join Whitehurst and Jackson to compete for the starting job. However, it appears that when the Seahawks unexpectedly brought in Jackson, Leinart backed out of the proposed deal.
Nonetheless, all three quarterbacks have showed little promise to be anything more than perennial backups. The dismal quarterback situation in Seattle is reminiscent of so many other teams stocked with lame duck quarterbacks. These moves don’t appear to add any value to the Seahawks, who may be in trouble when the season starts.
Tyler Thigpen to the Buffalo Bills
Tyler Thigpen will backup Ryan Fitzgerald in Buffalo in 2011
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
The Buffalo Bills recently acquired Tyler Thigpen in free agency. The Bills have been a quarterbacking black hole of late. All of the quarterbacks they have put in have been recycled and spit out to another team, to ride the bench and wait to be given a chance to show their ineptitude.
Tyler Thigpen is being brought into Buffalo to back up Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick showed some promise last season, making some strides on a very poor team. If the team or Fitzpatrick struggles at any time in the season, look for Thigpen to come in, but I don’t think he will make a huge difference until the Bills stock up on more playmakers.
Bruce Gradkowski to the Cincinnati Bengals
Bruce Gradkowski could actually make a positive difference on the team he ends up on
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Bruce Gradkowski is a sleeper pick to actually make a positive impact on the team that lands him. He has shown the intangible quality of a viable starting quarterback in the games he started over Jason Campbell or the games he relieved Campbell.
The Bengals may have gotten a steal by working out a deal with Gradkowski as Carson Palmer continues to sulk and demand to be traded.
Gradkowski will be a valuable commodity for the Bengals as they groom rookie Andy Dalton and still work to put out a competitive team in 2011.
Jake Delhomme to ???
Jake Delhomme is now on the open market as the Browns have released him
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
The Carolina Panthers could be interested in signing him as a mentor for their rookie quarterback Cam Newton. The quarterback position has for many years during John Fox's tenure in Carolina a position with room for improvement. Delhomme wouldn't be a step backwards, but something must change soon for the Panthers to move forward.
The Broncos have been in the debate about where Delhomme might land because of his history with Fox. Also, the Broncos may be looking to bring in a season veteran as a mentor for Tim Tebow, and to have a viable backup if Tebow gets injured because of his proclivity to run the ball himself if nothing develops.