|Who wouldn't be excited about having this guy as their starting QB?!|
So, yeah......I'm pretty excited about football. No, the lockout isn't *officially* over. And yes, James Harrison could, theoretically, singlehandedly kill the entire thing by laying helmet to forehead hits on Roger Goodell and the entire NFL negotiating team. This is unlikely (70-30 against?).
For all intents and purposes, this deal is getting done sooner rather than later. How do I know this? Because ESPN told me so and I'm apparently obligated to believe every single thing they say. In all seriousness though, it sounds like a deal is imminent. There are obvious hurdles left to overcome, but I'd bet my last dollar that nothing will hold up the 2011 NFL season (I'm not making a big leap here...I'm pretty much at my last dollar already). There's an awful lot of money at stake and it would seem rather foolish for either the owners or players to take those extra large wads of cash out of their pockets.
With that in mind, it's time to stop talking about player-owner splits, right of first refusals, and Jerry Jones' massive ego; and start talking about free agency, training camps, and...umm...Jerry Jones' massive ego. First up is free agency. Nearly every team has huge holes to fill and, thanks to the lockout, free agency is the last real chance for them to do so. At this point, I have no idea when free agency will start and, quite frankly, I refuse to research it or speculate on it because the date and time will almost certainly have changed by the time I finish writing this post. (Note: I was originally going to insert a sentence or two about how insane the free agent period will be, but apparently every single writer/talking head in America has decided to axe murder this topic to the point where I'm not sure I can actually take even one more reference. Yes. We get it. It's going to be crazy. Thank you.)
As always, the quarterback position is top priority. Simply put, if you don't have a quarterback then you don't have a chance. Unfortunately for quarterback needy teams (seemingly most teams), there really isn't a lot out there. Still, there are a few decent options in the free agent/trade market, and a mad scramble will likely ensue for their services. Let's take a look:
(One more note: This topic is currently on life support after being stabbed in the chest with a butcher's knife. I actually decided to write about this early last week, but stupidly held off to finish up some other projects. You would be right in saying I'm highly annoyed to have held off on a relevant sports topic to write about The Most Annoying People in Sports. Add me to the list please...and make sure I'm near the top. Now, I'll be the 573,822nd writer/blogger/brainless copycat to write about available quarterbacks. Good for me.)
Starting the list off strong! OK, so Pryor isn't actually a viable quarterback option next year (or ever), but I'm interested in seeing where he goes in the Supplemental Draft. As much as I despise Pryor as a person and as a football player, I'd be more than happy to invest a fifth round pick on him. Seriously, what is there to lose? Quarterbacks with Pryor's talent and physical gifts are few and far between. Sure, he's got a looooooooong ways to go in terms of accuracy, leadership, reading defenses, and not being a complete moron; but are you really expecting a finished product in the fifth round? In addition, I think Pryor could benefit greatly from NFL coaching. I've long thought Tressel was an overrated coach, and I'm convinced his simplistic schemes and 'star treatment' severely stunted Pryor's growth. Like I said, I'm not betting on him ever amounting to anything, but it's worth a fifth round gamble to find out.
Possible Fits: I keep hearing Oakland pop up, but I don't understand how that's a good fit. In addition, I've heard Cleveland (no way, not that close to Columbus), Miami, and Washington mentioned as likely suitors. Of those teams, Washington makes the most sense to me...as long as they're willing and able to be patient. Mike Shanahan has lost a lot of his QB guru luster, but old Donovan McNabb isn't exactly the second coming of John Elway. The fact is, the Redskins are a complete mess and they desperately need young talent to build for the future. Shanahan didn't suddenly become dumb overnight, and he's had success with mobile quarterbacks in the past (Jake Plummer being the most relevant example). Perhaps after a few humbling and painful years sitting behind John Beck/Rex Grossman/overpriced free agent QB X, Pryor will be ready to step in and fulfill his not inconsiderable talents.
Dennis Dixon (RFA)
I must confess, I have an unhealthy love of mobile QB's. It's not that I'm an idiot (I know...they have a poor success rate), it's that I've become easily seduced by their dominance on Madden. Please, forgive me.
Dixon was another one of these sad, sad stories. I was convinced Dixon would shine in his big chance to step in for Ben Rapelisberger
Possible Fits: Madden 2012. I may have learned my lesson in real life, but Dixon is still a stone cold killer on Madden. I'll definitely be trading for him.
Where to I even begin with Leinart? He showed a ton of promise his rookie year and made Arizona think they had found their QB of the future, THEN decided he preferred partying with Paris Hilton to watching game film and regressed each year to the point where he couldn't even beat out Derek Anderson for the starting job. HE COULDN'T BEAT OUT DEREK ANDERSON! DEREK FREAKING ANDERSON! DEREK "I ONLY THREW SEVEN TOUCHDOWNS EVEN THOUGH I HAD LARRY FITZGERALD" ANDERSON! Am I yelling too much? Too many caps? Sorry...
Possible Fits: Dick's Sporting Goods. They're always looking for athletic young men to work in Team Sports.
I only included him on this list to say that I desperately hope Minnesota re-signs him and he ends up being the starter all year long. As I've mentioned before, I desperately root for Prince (my podcast regular, not the singer) to be miserable, and a full season of Tarvaris would probably send him over the edge. Think of all the amazing, angry podcast rants we'd get!
Possible Fits: Minnesota...got to be Minnesota. Unless...
The only thing better would be for Brett to come back and tank another Vikings season. Sadly, not even I can muster up legitimite excitement for something like this. I just can't take another round of Favre comeback rumors. I can't take another round trip plane ride by Longwell and Co. I can't do it. No more, no more.
Possible Fits: A nice, quiet retirement home in Mississippi where Brett can act like the dirty old man he is. While I'm at it, why not throw up a giant wall around the home? Maybe some bars on the windows? You know...just in case.
It's assumed Smith will be retained by San Francisco and inserted back into his starting role. Wouldn't it be funny though, after Harbaugh gave him a playbook and everything, if Smith signed with a division rival like Arizona or Seattle? How great would that be?!
Possible Fits: Arizona, because why not? It would entertain me, and it would make my friend Casey very upset (also entertaining me). We all know the Cardinals are dumb, why wouldn't they offer him twice his market value to get their hands on a playbook, despite having a crappy defense that probably wouldn't be able to stop the plays anyway? It makes plenty of sense!
Bulger is 34 years old, hasn't had a QB rating above 71.4 since 2006, hasn't thrown more than 11 TD's in a season since 2006, hasn't had a positive TD-INT ration since 2006, hasn't thrown for 3000+ yards since 2006, and hasn't had a positive won-loss record as a starter since 2004...and he's considered a hot commodity? Wow, this really is a crappy market.
Possible Fits: Recent rumors have Bulger ruling out Arizona. Yes, Marc Bulger ruled out Arizona. Where he could actually start. Apparently he's confident something else will pop up. Other named options are Cincinnati, Miami, Minnesota, Seattle, and Tennessee. Of those teams, three seem intent on starting rookie first rounders (Cincy, Minny, Tennessee), one seems adament about sticking with an underperforming second year player (Miami), and the other seems fixated on quarterbacks who don't suck quite as bad as Bulger (Seattle). That leaves, approximately, nobody. Go figure!
For whatever reason, McNabb has been a punching bag for most of his career. Considering he's racked up 36,250 yard passing, 230 TD's, a 97-57-1 record, a 9-7 playoff record, 5 NFC Championship game appearances, and 6 Pro Bowls; that sentiment is confusing to me. Still, as great as he was, last season's embarrassing performance, culminating in him being benched for Rex Grossman of all people, is a strong indicator that McNabb's time has passed. I'm sure some overeager coach will think he can coax one last vintage McNabb season out of him, but I highly doubt it.
Possible Fits: Minnesota has been the most popular rumor to date, but his name has been thrown in the ring with just about every QB needy team. Peter King brought up an interesting point on PTI, saying, ""And you know, I think it's gonna be a game of musical chairs. First of all, I think the guy who a lot of people are really interested in is Matt Hasselbeck. Will he go to Tennessee? Will he go to Minnesota? Will he go to Arizona? I think after that domino falls, then we look at Marc Bulger, then we look at Donovan McNabb. It's crazy to say, based on what's happened in the last year, but there's not a lot of buzz out there for Donovan McNabb. For some reason I think he ends up in Miami."
It would make a ton of sense for Mike Brown to give in and trade Palmer. Palmer would be an incredibly valuable asset in this QB market, and he would likely net a pretty high pick in the upcoming draft. I mean, you've already invested a 2nd rounder on your QB of the future! Why not officially finish off the transition and get something in return? It just makes sense. That having been said......this is the Bengals, and this is Mike Brown. I highly doubt any logical decisions will be made here.
Possible Fits: As I said, there's no way Brown makes a good choice here. He isn't going anywhere. However, if he were to be traded, I'd love to see him in Arizona. Palmer's had a rough go of it the past two years, throwing 33 INT's during that time. However, many people think his 20 INT's last year were due in large part to the antics of TO and Ochocinco. Apparently, those two clowns decided to ditch all the plays and run whatever routes they wanted to run! Whether this is true or not, I have no idea. Given Palmer's history, relatively young age, and the dearth of franchise QB's out there; I'd be willing to take a chance.
I'm still trying to figure out where all this Kevin Kolb hype came from! In 19 career games (albeit only 7 starts), Kolb has a 73.2 QB rating and an 11-14 TD-INT ratio. Digging a little deeper shows that his advanced passing numbers were fairly brutal last year, his one season of extended play and, thus, his best sample size. His Rate+, Sack%, INT%, TD%, and Adjusted yards per attempt% were all below average. And you can have this and more for the meager price of a 1st and a 3rd!!!
Possible Fits: Sounds like Seattle and Arizona have been the most active in pursuing Kolb. The Eagles continue to insist he's not necessarily on the trade block, but I'm not buying that for a second. Philly has been one of the smartest franchises in all of professional sports...if they can bring in a massive haul for their backup QB, they'll do it.
As Peter Kings pointed out, Hasselbeck is likely the first domino to fall. What he does will set in motion the strategies of Seattle, Arizona, and everybody else. Hasselbeck has certainly had a fine career, and many people think he's the best QB on the market, but I actually don't think he's a starter quality QB anymore. Yeah, he was fantastic in the playoffs last year, but it's almost always a bad idea to make sweeping conclusions based on such a small sample size. Insead, I'd like to introduce a much larger sample size...the past three seasons. In those seasons, Hasselbeck has:
Missed 13 games due to injury
Thrown only 34 TD's (high of 17)
Thrown 44 INT's (high of 17...twice)
Posted QB ratings of 57.8, 75.1, and 73.2
Not exceed 6.8 yard per attempt
Been below average for three straight seasons in Rate+, INT%, TD%, Comp%, Yard per attempt%
Sounds like, at nearly 36, he's at the top of his game!
Possible Fits: Again, you hear his name thrown around with nearly everyone. Many people, including his brother Tim, have begun bandying about Tennessee as a possible destination. Sure, why not?
I realize I'm all alone on an island on this one, and I realize I just repented of my Madden mobile QB sins, but I still like Vince Young and I think he can be an impact QB in the right system. There, I said it! Shoot me! Look, putting aside his hyper-sensitivity, his probable love of Lifetime movies, and his off field 'craziness' issues; Young has shown flashes of the player he could/should be. No, he's not tye type of QB you want throwing the ball 30 times a game, but that doesn't mean he's useless! As much as I hate the QB Wins stat, I find it to be a bit too coincidental that Tennessee finished out their season 8-2 once Young took over. Same goes for last year when, after a 4-4 start under Young, Tennessee tanked the rest of the way once Vince was pulled from the lineup.
Possible Fits: I really don't know what the interest level for Young is. I doubt it's very high. Prince and I have talked about this a couple times before, and we both agree that Minnesota would be an ideal fit for Vince Young. He'd once again be in a position to let a dominant running back carry the load, and he'd have excellent weapons to throw to when he drops back. Going further with that, Percy Harvin is noted for improvisational skills. Young's propensity to leave the pocket too quickly isn't ever going to be a good thing, but Harvin could drastically lower the disaster percentage and turn some of those broken plays into touchdowns.
The Denver QB situation is amazingly even less certain than our country's economy. Guys within the organization have made several conflicting statements about the starting chances of Orton and Tebow, and thus, we have absolutely no clue. What a shock! After a disastrous 2010 season, it seems probable that Denver will look to its youth (Tebow) and label Orton as the fall guy. This makes me very happy, simply because I love Tebow. However, it's extremely unfair to blame Orton for Denver's troubles. Seriously, what's he supposed to do when the defense is giving up 700 yards rusing per game?!
Amidst his 3-10 is the overlooked fact that Orton was one of the most productive QB's in the league over the last two seasons.
Rating: 86.8, 87.5
Yards: 3802, 3563
TD's: 21, 20
INT's: 12, 9
Y/A: 7.0, 7.3
Add in the fact that his advanced passing stats are all above average or right around average, and you can see why Orton is, perhaps, the best value in this market.
Possible Fits: It definitely seems like Orton is behind Kolb, Hasselbeck, Bulger, and McNabb on a lot of teams wish lists. Why, I have no idea. If you ask me, he's the best QB available right now. With the NFC West teams seemingly prioritizing other targets, I'd guess Minnesota, Tennessee, or even Cincinnati are more likely. Here's the craziest part! Rumor is that a 3rd round pick would get the deal done. A 3RD ROUND PICK! So, would you rather have completely unproven and thus far ineffective Kevin Kolb for a 1st rounder, or would you rather have an actual good QB (with a fantastic neck beard) for a third of the price? Give me the neck beard...
As always, I'm interested in your thoughts. Please leave your comments and I promise I'll get to each and every one. Also, you can follow me on Twitter at @borisdiawtime.