Sunday, February 19, 2012

2012 NFL Free Agents; Quarterbacks

So yay me for finally finding the time to sit down and complete this.

Basically I'm just going to skim over the list of the free agent quarterbacks in 2012 and pick out the ones of interest to me, so by no means should you consider this an exhaustive list. I'm also just about as clueless as everyone else as to where these gentlemen will eventually end up, so it's more a case of looking at their value and what they can bring to the table.

Before we begin I'm going to exclude two people right off the bat and that's Drew Brees and Alex Smith. I just cant see their respective teams letting them walk off into the land of contract milk and honey, even if it means slapping on the franchise tag to make it happen.

It's for that same reason that I'm going to can Peyton Manning as well. The Colts can lock him up even if he doesn't like it and frankly, even if he does make it to the open market, what is there that I could say about Peyton Manning that you don't already know?

Moving on then and for some reason Matt Flynn is the talk of the town in the NFL right now. Every pundit, expert, blogger and TV/radio host has Flynn down as being the number one quarterback acquisition to make, if Peyton isn't available of course.

But personally I don't get it. Flynn is good, that much is true. However his story is very similar to Kevin Kolb when he was with the Eagles, in that he's played a few games and put up some tremendous numbers. That however does not make Flynn - as it didn't make Kolb - a guaranteed starting caliber quarterback. Kolb had spent years in the Eagles system and had toys like DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin to play with. When he went to Arizona the story was very different.

Granted the Cardinals had Larry Fitzgerald, but that's one guy, not the deep receiving roster that the Eagles had. Kolb didn't know the playbook and he had to develop a relationship and a sense of timing with his new receivers. The comparison to what Flynn will go through is scarily identical.

Flynn will be leaving a team that he's played with for several years now, and he leaves behind an excellent and very deep receiving corps. To go to what? The Redskins? The Browns? Anyone that thinks Flynn can make the same magic work with Josh Cribbs, Mohammed Massaquoi and Greg Little that he did with Greg Jennings, Donald Driver and Jordy Nelson has a seriously painful wake up call coming.

This is not to say that Flynn is a talentless hack who can't throw a spiral, just that he's not the super saviour that everyone thinks he will be. I can see Flynn doing well in time and in the right situation, but any team thinking that Flynn will carry them to the big dance overnight is kidding themselves. About the best shot he might have of being a first season wonder might be in Oakland, but I'm not sure if they're in the market after the Carson Palmer debacle that they managed to get tied up in.

A much more solid name that stands out is Kyle Orton.

Much maligned after his spell in Denver, Orton is actually a pretty good quarterback on his day. Yes he's had some bum luck recently but notice that his performance in Denver took a sharp decline when Brandon Marshall exited and he lost key receivers to injury.

Orton still has the potential to put together a very good season somewhere. If you give Kyle Orton the receivers, offensive line and running back combination that the Ravens have given to Joe Flacco and I think you'd see a great offensive year out of Orton. I certainly would prefer someone with experience like Orton over Flynn.

Jason Campbell is another name that is out there in the mix, but really I think people would be silly to take the chance on him again. Washington didn't exactly bend over backwards to bring in top quality receivers for him during his time there, but they at least had some good guys for him to work with. In Oakland he had some real speed available from his guys, but never found a way to exploit it. I just can't see Campbell really cutting it anymore, though I suspect someone will go out of their way to throw money at him again, for whatever reasons they have. I think that would be a big mistake.

Next on the lost I have is Chris Redman of the Atlanta Falcons. This is kind of an odd one but I just thought I'd bring it up because Redman has actually been a fairly serviceable backup for the Falcons and has played solidly in the appearances that he's made over the years. He averages just a bit under a 60% completion percentage with 21 career touchdowns to 14 interceptions and personally I think he has his uses, for example sitting behind Alex Smith on the 49ers roster... then usurping his spot mid-season.

Derek Anderson is on the list. I hope someone signs him, just so I can laugh. And no San Francisco, don't let it be you. Caleb Hanie of Chicago looks set to hit the open market and might get a few sniffs. He's young and has flashed ability at times, but has also made a lot mistakes. He's one of those kids where if someone feels they can make chicken salad out of chicken shit, then they might bite. Like Andy Reid, who will then end up flogging him off for a couple of second round picks two years later.

Shaun Hill looks like he's going to be available. By now he's getting a little long in the tooth but he still has some talent left in him. Not a huge amount, but someone looking for a backup could do a lot worse. Fellow Lion Drew Stanton is much the same bag. Christ, Brady Quinn is on this list? I think people would have to be a little detached from reality to pay for Quinn. He's done nothing to show he can be of any real use to anybody.

Ahhh, now we're talking. David Garrard. I've been quite harsh on Garrard in the past, but in all fairness he's hardly been surrounded by talent when he was in Jacksonville. Given the crappy state of both his receivers and his offensive line, Garrard actually did pretty well. In general, when I look at this years free agent class I have to think to myself that if I was in the market for a free agent quarterback, Garrard would probably be near the top of my list, depending on the kind of money he was after. Personally I think he has to take a step down the financial ladder in order to get the chance to prove himself once again.

Dan Orlovsky is technically a free agent from what I can tell, though I suspect that Indy will want him back, regardless of what they do with Peyton Manning (it's either that or Curtis Painter). I think Orlovsky still has some value as a back up. He's been around, seen a lot, and is a surprisingly stable if unspectacular back up.

Luke McCown is free this year from Jacksonville and I think he still has potential left in him. Dude is 30 now and has suffered in Tampa and Jacksonville, but with a decent set of receivers I think he could be an upgrade over some of the crap floating about in the NFL right now. Like Chad Henne from Miami? Harsh I think. Henne actually started to find something of a groove before going down to injury and he has more left in the tank to prove. Chances are that Miami will bring him back, but if he makes the open market he might get a few sniffs.

The rest of the list is made up of a bunch of old and dubiously talented individuals. The only remotely youthful name left is Josh Johnson of the Buccaneers. Now Johnson is an interesting package. He's not the greatest quarterback to take the field and even with a bit of work he's unlikely to really reach the highest levels of passing greatness, but what Johnson does have is a handy set of wheels under him that on occasion have bailed him out of some tough spots.

With the performances of Cam Newton, Mike Vick and Tim Tebow still fresh in peoples minds, running quarterbacks are likely to take on a certain attraction this year. The inclusion of Robert Griffin III in the draft will no doubt ram that point home, so don't be surprised if someone looks at Johnson as a slightly cheaper and slightly more experienced version of RG3, taking a modestly priced punt on him in 2012.

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