By Rich Tandler
There is a lot of talk about who would be the Redskins’ competition for the quarterbacks who be hitting the free agent market and will be available in the draft next April.
A team-by-team breakdown of quarterback needs is below. By my count as of this moment, there are 26 teams who are set with their starters and are unlikely to be major players in the quarterback market. I am counting the Colts in that group as they will either open 2012 with Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck under center. There are three teams who are very definitely in need of a staring quarterback—the Redskins, Dolphins, and Seahawks. The other three teams, the Browns, Cardinals and Jets, could stand pat but they could jump in if the conditions are right.
Redskins—High need, no further explanation needed
Giants—Set with Eli Manning
Cowboys—Set with Tony Romo
Eagles—Set with Michael Vick
Packers—Set with Aaron Rogers
Lions—Set with Matthew Stafford
Vikings—Will go with Christian Ponder, who they drafted 12th overall in 2011, Joe Webb showed that he could be a capable backup.
Bears—Set with Jay Cutler, may seek depth as Caleb Hanie proved to be ineffective after Cutler got injured.
Panthers—Set with Cam Newton
Bucs—Drafted Josh Freeman in first round in 2009. Although they will be getting a new coach, GM Mark Dominik, who drafted Freeman, remains. It seems unlikely that the Bucs will draft a quarterback in the first two rounds or sign a major free agent.
Falcons—Set with Matt Ryan
Saints—Set with Drew Brees, who will either sign a new deal or get the franchise tag
49ers—They will try to sign Alex Smith but if that doesn’t work out they drafted Colin Kaepernick in the second round last year as their Plan B.
Rams—Set with Sam Bradford
Seahawks—High need. Tavaris Jackson was effective at times but he’s not a long-term answer. Charlie Whitehurst was a low-cost gamble that showed that you get what you pay for.
Cardinals—Nearly set with Kevin Kolb. It is difficult to see them giving up on him so soon considering what they gave up for him although they could elect not make a $7 million option payment and terminate his five-years, $63 million contract. They will probably give him a pass for a subpar 2011 due to injuries and not having an offseason to learn the offense. However, if a compelling option like Peyton Manning was to come up, they could make a move.
Jets—Although there is talk of them being in the market for Peyton Manning if he hits the market, the chances are strong that they will stick with Mark Sanchez.
Patriots—Set with Tom Brady
Bills—Although Ryan Fitzpatrick’s performance went downhill after he signed a six-year, $59 million extension, the Bills can’t afford not to stick with him.
Dolphins—Like the Redskins, they are very much in need of a quarterback and will consider all options.
Steelers—Set with Ben Roethlisberger
Ravens—Set with Joe Flacco, for at least this, the final year of his contract
Bengals—Set with Andy Dalton
Browns—They are very much a wild card in the mix. At times, Colt McCoy has looked like an NFL quarterback and at times he hasn’t. The question is if Mike Holmgren will bring in a strong backup who could push him or a replacement.
Colts—They are set with either Peyton Manning or, more likely, Andrew Luck.
Texans—Set with Matt Schaub
Jaguars—Set with Blaine Gabbert. Yes, I typed that. They have a new coach but GM Rick Smith, who pulled the trigger to trade up with the Redskins to get Gabbert, remains and it is doubtful that he will admit a mistake so soon.
Titans—Set with Matt Hasselbeck for the present and Jake Locker for the future.
Raiders—Set with Carson Palmer
Chargers—Set with Phillip Rivers
Chiefs—Although Matt Cassel has been something of a disappointment, it is unlikely that new coach Romeo Crenell will have the pull needed to replace him even if he wanted to try to persuade Scott Pioli to do so.
Broncos—An odd situation with the unconventional Tim Tebow but they will not be major players for a quarterback.