If you happen to study the rosters of all 32 NFL teams on ESPN, you will discover that there are currently 89 quarterbacks listed. The only one of the 89 that is questionable is Brad Smith of the Buffalo Bills, who will undoubtedly be a wide receiver this Sunday far more often than he will be a quarterback.
Of the 89 quarterbacks, you may be surprised to learn that 14 of them are rookies, meaning that there are only 75 veteran quarterbacks left that are active in the NFL. Where did the rest all go?
Due to the new NFLPA labor agreement, many teams are only carrying two quarterbacks this season. After scanning the current rosters, we found that exactly 11 teams are only carrying two quarterbacks on their active roster. Those 11 teams will be very nervous indeed if their starter ever goes down.
Out of the number of veteran quarterbacks that are still out there, we are selecting nine free agent quarterbacks that are available and can still fill a need for a NFL team. We will further clarify what that exact need or role is for each of the nine quarterbacks in question.
In case you were wondering who the 14 rookie quarterbacks were from the class of 2011 that are appearing currently on NFL rosters on ESPN.com, wonder no more. They are:
Tyrod Taylor (BAL), Cam Newton (CAR), Nathan Enderle (CHI), Andy Dalton (CIN), T.J. Yates (HOU), Blaine Gabbert (JAX), Ricky Stanzi (KC), Christian Ponder (MIN), Ryan Mallett (N.E.), Greg McElroy (N.Y. Jets), Terrelle Pryor (OAK), Colin Kaepernick (S.F.), Josh Portis (SEA) and Jake Locker (TEN).
No doubt some of these 14 rookies have been the reason that some of the veteran free agents lost a job. Case in point, when the Oakland Raiders drafted Terrelle Pryor in the supplemental draft, they released QB Trent Edwards to make room for him. And so it goes.
As we go through this presentation, I want to remind everyone of the NFC Championship Game from the 2010 season. The Green Bay Packers advanced to the Super Bowl when they defeated the Chicago Bears 21-14.
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was injured on the final Bears offensive play of the first half. He came out for the first drive of the second half and wasn't able to continue. The fate of the Bears chances to reach the Super Bowl rested in the hands of their backup QB's Todd Collins and Caleb Hanie.
Collins came out to run two drives and both were miserable failures. Hanie came on at the end of the third quarter and was able to rally the Bears for their total of 14 points during the fourth quarter, when the game was on the line.
One could argue that if the Bears had better backup quarterbacks, they might have been able to beat the Packers and win the NFC Championship Game. You don't know when a backup quarterback will be needed to step up and play, but it should not be lost on our readers that if a veteran free agent QB is out there and could be an upgrade as a No. 2 quarterback, that is a valuable chess piece for every NFL team. You only need to look at the Packers versus Bears game to know that it is true.
J.P Losman served as the No. 3 quarterback with the Seattle Seahawks in 2010. As of now he is not in the NFL. Losman played five years with the Buffalo Bills and was with the Oakland Raiders for one year. He played in 43 games in the NFL.
During his career in Buffalo, when Losman was mostly a starting quarterback, he had the ability to run with the ball and had a strong enough arm that he could throw deep passes. His accuracy was an issue. For his career, Losman completed 59.2 percent of his passes, and his ratio was 33 touchdowns to 34 interceptions. His QB passer rating was 75.6. He averaged 6.59 yards per pass.
Losman is only 30-years-old. Over a three year span, the longest pass play for each year covered at least 83 yards. He has thrown for over 6,200 yards during his NFL career.
Recommended role: Come in as a No. 3 quarterback with chance to compete for backup role.
Chris Simms is now 31-years-old. Simms played eight years in the NFL and has appeared in 23 games. Simms completed 58.1 percent of his passes during his career, which saw him play for Tampa Bay, Tennessee and Denver.
His career QB passer rating was 69.1. He has a career ratio of 12 touchdowns to 18 interceptions. During his career, Simms threw for over 3,100 yards.
Recommended role: Not as game tested as the others on this list, bring him in for a No. 3 quarterback role and go from there. Run the scout team. Good quarterback for anyone facing Michael Vick on Sunday (southpaw connection).
Charlie Frye is another veteran NFL quarterback that is now reached 30 years of age. He played in the NFL for six years, for teams like Cleveland, Seattle and Oakland.
Frye appeared in 26 NFL games during his career and completed almost 62 percent of his passes (61.9) which is nothing to be ashamed of. Frye threw for over 4,100 yards in his career, but his career ratio of 17 touchdowns to 29 interceptions is not something to be proud of.
His QB Passer Rating is 69.7.
Recommended Role: Come in as a No. 3 quarterback, and run the scout team.
Patrick Ramsey is now 32-years-old. He played eight years in the NFL for Washington, the New York Jets and Denver.
During his career, Ramsey completed 56 percent of his passes. He threw for over 5,900 yards during his career and appeared in 37 games.
Ramsey has thrown for 35 touchdowns compared to 30 interceptions. His QB passer rating is 74.9
Recommended role: Ramsey could be brought in to challenge for a backup role.
Troy Smith is going to be the youngest quarterback in this presentation. Smith is only 27-years-old and has appeared in just 20 NFL games. Smith played for Baltimore and San Francisco.
Smith is probably the most athletic quarterback from our group of free agents. He has rushed 52 times for 230 yards, which comes out to an average of 4.4 yards per rush. Smith has thrown eight touchdowns to five interceptions for his career.
He has a QB passer rating of 78.5 and has played in the NFL for four years.
Recommended role: Athletic enough to compete for a backup role, especially for teams with a weaker offensive line where he can scramble and make plays with his legs.
We are placing Carson Palmer here only because until the NFL trade deadline passes next week Tuesday, October 19, will we know for sure if he has the possibility to play for another team in the NFL this year or not.
Of course, if Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown decides not to trade Palmer by next week, then you can eliminate him from this list, as he will not be eligible for the rest of the year, assuming that he stays retired for 2011.
If, however, Brown gets overwhelmed with a trade offer, than all bets are off. There are several teams that Palmer could start for right now, and no doubt would be of interest to several teams in 2012 if he is allowed to enter the trade market.
Recommended role: Starting quarterback on teams that are currently struggling. Would be a great quality backup for any playoff team.
Jake Delhomme is the most accomplished free agent quarterback on our list. He took the Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl. Delhomme is 36-years-old and has played in 102 NFL games. During his career, he played for New Orleans, Carolina and Cleveland.
Delhomme has passed for over 20,000 yards during his career. He has thrown 125 touchdowns to 101 interceptions. His career QB passer rating was 81.2.
Delhomme averaged 7.15 yards per pass over his career. He completed 59.3 percent of his passes. During his last season with Cleveland, he failed to lead the Browns to anything positive to speak of, so the Browns benched him.
Recommended role: There are 14 NFL teams that have a rookie quarterback on their team this year. If any of the 14 are looking for a mentor-type of QB, that appears to be the perfect role for Delhomme at this stage of his career.
For our final two quarterbacks, we present two veterans that were teammates last year. Trent Edwards was a backup quarterback at Jacksonville in 2010, but he began the year as the starter in Buffalo. Edwards will turn 28-years-old in several weeks, so there is still lots of football left in him.
The problem with Edwards is that he suffered several concussions in Buffalo, and once that happened, he started getting happy feet, and was more concerned with checking down with the football than holding on to it for somebody to get open. He richly deserved the moniker of Captain Checkdown in Buffalo because that is what he did.
Edwards has been in the league for five years. He played in Jacksonville in 2010 and was waived in training camp in Oakland in 2011. He has played in 37 NFL games, and his career QB passer rating was 75.4. Had a career ratio of 26 touchdowns to 30 interceptions.
Edwards has passed for over 6,000 yards in his career and has completed 60.5 percent of his passes. He averages a meager 6.49 yards per pass.
Recommended role: Edwards is nothing more than a backup quarterback at this stage of his career. He can come in and manage a game plan, but if you are looking for him to lead your team for weeks on end, pass. He is not your guy.
Surprisingly, David Garrard was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars before the season began. Since then, there has been very little activity on the quarterback front for Garrard to consider around the league. The Miami Dolphins apparently talked to him, but were not willing to guarantee his contract, so Garrard passed on them. The way they are playing, who can blame him.
Garrard is 33-years-old and has played his entire career with the Jacksonville Jaguars, appearing in 86 NFL games. Garrard has been in the league for 10 years. He has completed 61.6 percent of his passes over his career. He has a career QB passer rating of 85.8.
Garrard has thrown for over 16,000 yards during his career. His ratio is 89 touchdowns to 54 interceptions. His average pass is 7.02 yards per pass. Garrard will not settle for a meaningless role, he wants to prove that he is still a starting quarterback in the NFL. It will take a major injury that knocks out a starting quarterback for him to express interest, and even then, the new club would have to guarantee his deal for him to sign on the dotted line.
Recommended role: Garrard will hold out for the right scenario. If he can't find a suitable starting job for 2011, he will wait it out for the 2012 season and try to win a job then. In the meantime, he needs to stay in shape, because his opportunity might spring up any week from here on out.