It’s a bad year to be a rookie quarterback coming out in the draft. Not only has the going rate for a rookie QB – even those at the top – been cut in half, there isn’t a quarterback in this year’s draft that is deemed worthy of being the top pick. Geno Smith has the best chance of going high, but most draft scouts see him as a mid to late first-round prospect – but the typical frenzy on draft day to land “The Next Big Thing” at quarterback could push his stock higher. The success of guys like Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick has only intensified the belief that a player doesn’t have to be an elite draft pick to be an elite quarterback.
But a strange thing happened this offseason. It’s been quiet, but when put together it’s been a history-making offseason in terms of quarterbacks finding new homes.
If there has been a time with more Tier 2 QB movement in the history of the NFL, we need to see the evidence. For the sake of impact, teams that have made at least a marginal move as it pertains to the quarterback position will be listed in boldface type so it’s easier to do the math as the list goes on … and on … and on. By the time you’re done, this falling of pedestrian QB dominoes may surprise you.
As with most stories, you start with the headliners and, when there aren’t true headliners (there was no Peyton Manning-style courtship going on), the list quickly fades in talent. This was the reincarnation of Plan B free agency, but it has involved an incredible number of teams.
The first domino to fall, was Alex Smith, so we can start there.
Kansas City – The Smith trade is nothing new for the Chiefs, the same franchise that acquired Joe Montana, Steve DeBerg, Dave Krieg, Warren Moon and Trent Green long before they gambled and lost on Matt Cassel. Smith is the latest flavor for a franchise that has never developed its own QB – even Len Dawson was a reject from another team. It just seemed to follow a franchise M.O. that has been in place since they were the kings of the AFL. It’s what they do.
Minnesota – The Smith trade created one too many expensive quarterbacks in K.C., so Matt Cassel had to go. The Vikings, still scabbing over from the painful performance of Joe Webb against the Packers, waited until the inevitable happened and stepped up and gave Cassel a healthy contract for a backup.
Arizona – In what may turn out to be the reincarnation of Sage Rosenfels, the Cards were fed up with Kevin Kolb and the revolving door of QBs that have rotted in Arizona heat since Kurt Warner was carried off the field several years back. They targeted Indianapolis backup Drew Stanton with the promise of a training camp competition. Now, when the “I’s” get dotted and the “T’s” get crossed, Carson Palmer will take his place at the top spot of the training camp depth chart in Arizona.
Tennessee – Forced into action by the release of Ryan Fitzpatrick in Buffalo, the Titans went from having Matt Hasselbeck as a veteran backup to unproven Jake Locker and replaced him with a younger version of a backup who aspires to fight for a starting spot. Can you spell “quarterback controversy?”
Buffalo – Before releasing Fitzpatrick and subsequently signing Kolb, the Bills made sure they had a veteran by signing free agent Tarvaris Jackson. That’s a lot of turnover at the position for a team still without a proven starter.
Oakland – Before officially starting the process of getting rid of Palmer, they traded with Seattle to acquire Matt Flynn.
Kansas City – Not only traded for Smith, but signed New Orleans free agent Chase Daniel.
New Orleans – Signed Luke McCown to back up Drew Brees and replace Daniel.
Chicago – Re-signed journeyman Josh McCown to back up Jay Cutler.
Pittsburgh – With ancient Charlie Batch and brittle Byron Leftwich getting older and more brittle, respectively, the Steelers snatched former starter and Cincinnati backup Bruce Gradkowski.
Cincinnati – Signed Cleveland backup Josh Johnson to back up Andy Dalton after losing Gradkowski to Pittsburgh.
Cleveland – Johnson became available to the Bengals after they signed former Redskins and Raiders starter and Bears backup Jason Campbell to compete with Brandon Weeden.
San Francisco – Needing to replace Alex Smith, former draft reach Colt McCoy heads west after the Niners cut a trade with Cleveland, shuffling late-round picks to acquire him.
New York Jets – The number of Mark Sanchez chances can be counted on one hand – a shop teacher’s hand. As a result, the Jets tried to create a low-level competition by signing David Garrard, who, by choice, was out of the league for a long stretch.
New England – Even the mighty Patriots got involved, signing Eagles free agent Mike Kafka to compete for the No. 3 job, unless, of course, Ryan Mallett is traded.
Carolina – Re-signed veteran backup Derek Anderson to continue to serve as Cam Newton’s caddy before the insanity began.
New York Giants – The G-Men once again re-signed former No. 1 overall pick/career footnote David Carr. Giants fans continue a candlelight vigil that Eli Manning doesn’t get seriously injured.
Dallas – Signed Tony Romo to a six-year, $108 million contract extension with a $25 million signing bonus.
Baltimore – Signed Joe Flacco to a six-year, $120 million contract.
Green Bay – Aaron Rodgers is on the verge of getting the richest contract in the history of the NFL this month.
And this doesn’t even take into account Tim Tebow, whom the Jets are surely going to try to move at some point. Perhaps that’s how pervasive the quarterback movement over the last two months has been – it’s the only thing that can knock Tebow off the sports page.
The re-signing of DeAngelo Hall Monday by the Redskins, who released him three weeks ago due to salary cap concerns, could be good news for the Vikings. Late last week, Antoine Winfield met with the Redskins and Robert Griffin III attended the dinner. But the re-signing of Hall may signal the direction the Redskins are going in terms of a veteran cornerback in the free agent market. In the process, it might open the door for a return to the Vikings by Winfield at a more team-friendly price.
Monday’s signing of Darrius Heyward-Bey could impact the Vikings. The Colts select at No. 24, in between the Vikings’ two first-round picks. While there is speculation that the Colts might trade the pick because they don’t have a second-rounder and could get a pretty decent haul if they did, if the Vikings are willing to roll the dice that Indy stands pat and makes its pick, wide receiver might be able to wait until No. 25 after the Colts signed Heyward-Bey.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.