Free agency is set to begin on February 27th, 2009. Many teams have been making deals, cuts, and trying to figure out who they will get rid of or bring in to make the improvements needed. A number of teams are going to be looking at the free agent market for a quarterback this off-season. Teams like the Jets, Browns, Chiefs, Raiders, Buccaneers, Bears, Vikings, Lions, and 49ers will try to find a guy who can come in and take over a situation that is in bad shape. Teams like the Dolphins, Bills, Texans, Jaguars, Redskins, Panthers, Seahawks, and Rams have a guy in the quarterback spot that can run the team, but they would consider an upgrade. Unfortunately for these teams, the market is slim for top caliber quarterbacks. The Titans and Cardinals are both scrambling to try to sign their signal caller from last year, Kerry Collins and Kurt Warner respectively. The Patriots have two guys earning starter’s money, so they may be looking to move one of those. The Colts, Steelers, Bengals, Ravens, Chargers, Giants, Cowboys, Eagles, Falcons, Saints, and Packers all feel good about the guy leading their charge and will maybe sign a backup, but that’s about it.
For those teams that do decide to hit the market, here are the top 5 guys who have not already been resigned or franchised.
Kurt Warner – Though he will turn 38 in June, Kurt has been having a resurgence lately. In case you haven’t heard, this past season, he led the Cardinals to the Super Bowl. He wants to go back to Arizona, but is also looking to get paid. If the Cardinals make him an offer in the $10 million range, he will be back in red next year. Otherwise, he would be a great solution for the Jets, Chiefs, Raiders, Bears, Vikings, Lions, and 49ers.
Kerry Collins – Kerry is 36 now and this usually signals the end of a quarterback’s career. I guess someone forgot to tell Kerry that he should be looking into a second career instead of leading a team to the best record in the league. The Titans want Kerry to come back until Vince Young is ready to resume leading the team, but they may not be able to meet the cash demands Collins would have. If he doesn’t re-sign with Tennessee, look for a calls from the Buccaneers, Bears, Vikings, Lions, and 49ers.
Jeff Garcia – Garcia just turned 39. That is very old for an NFL quarterback. The Buccaneers have told him that he won’t be back, so he will try to find a starting job, but may end up as a backup quarterback. Jeff may also consider retirement if he doesn’t see the right opportunity.
Byron Leftwich – Byron filled in well for the Steelers last season on the way to a Super Bowl ring. He is one of the younger guys on the market at 28 and will try to find a starting role if possible. However, it is quite likely that Pittsburgh will try to bring him back as a backup. If he does catch on with another team, the Bears seem to be the frontrunner as Leftwich has expressed interest in playing in Chicago multiple times.
Chris Simms – After having a promising start to his career, Simms was derailed by a horrible spleen injury. Still trying to make a comeback, he would like to find a place where he can compete for a starting spot, but may have to be a backup. Also, he will turn 29 this August so he still has a few good years left.
Others worth mentioning:
JT O’Sullivan – had a big start to last year, but won’t be more than a backup again.
JP Losman – Had a decent career before being replaced by Trent Edwards. Buffalo may try to see if he will be a backup, but he has a chance to start for someone or be one of the leagues best backups.
Joey Harrington – Harrington backed up rookie Matt Ryan this year and will probably only be a backup.
Dan Orlovsky – Was decent in Detroit when everyone else was hurt, but probably will only be a backup – although he wants to start.