Veteran QBs bound for new contracts

BY foxsports • April 3, 2011

Thanks to the billionaires fighting the millionaires, we don’t have an offseason. And thanks to the pure greed and stupidity of the situation, your team currently can’t add the quarterback it so desperately needs.

Jog the mental rolodex back to the end of last year. There was some pretty awful, pretty questionable play at the quarterback position. In a real offseason, at least half of the teams in the league would’ve been in the quarterback business, either looking for a new starter or trying to add legit competition and light a fire.

And what makes this matter so complicated is that veteran quarterbacks who will be signed eventually won’t have the same prep time, the same practice time, the same time to learn a playbook and develop chemistry with their receivers as they had in prior years.

But there is good news. Whenever we get a new CBA, we will have a flurry of activity and Kevin Kolb will be traded and provide some needed sizzle to a dreary NFL spring. But sadly, Kolb cannot be cloned. The entire NFC West other than St. Louis pines for Kolb. He’s the perfect fit in Minnesota and Tennessee, too.

So what does your quarterback-challenged team do when they lose out on Kolb?

And as I ranted about in a recent video, the answer is not Carson Palmer. There are several problems on every level. Palmer is no longer a star. Bengals czar Mike Brown is relatively clueless and will likely demand top compensation for Palmer. If you wait to trade for a fading star and try to deal with an out-to-lunch organization, you will be left with nothing.

Last week, the Twitter world was abuzz with the news that the ultra-classy Chad Pennington tore his ACL playing basketball, and the oft-injured quarterback could be done for the year. Some folks were even saying that Pennington could’ve landed a starting job. While I find that hard to fathom since it isn’t 2004, it surely hits home my point about the dire need for veteran help at quarterback league wide.

So cross off Pennington, if he was even on the list in the first place. Don’t waste your time thinking about Palmer. Please don’t tell me that Brett Favre is going to haunt us again. Matt Leinart cares more about the hot tub than football. And deal with the fact that there’s a great chance you will be broken hearted when it comes to Kolb.

We examine, SCHEIN 9 style, the best of the rest of the veteran you can reasonably sign whenever the lawyers deem it acceptable. We rank them as best buys for 2011 under these zany circumstances.

1). Marc Bulger

He’s listed first for a few reasons. Bulger is an unrestricted free agent and he isn’t going back to Baltimore. There is no gray area here. You want him, you sign him. You don’t have to give up picks or players. I still think Bulger is a top 32 quarterback in the NFL. His agent Tom Condon told me on Sirius NFL Radio that he thinks Bulger is in the top 16. While that’s hyperbole, Bulger can still play and win, now a full year removed from the chaos and the beatings in St. Louis. He’s accurate, battle-tested and a leader. Bulger will start in the league this year and will help an NFL team.

2). Donovan McNabb

For the record, I think he’s a better quarterback than Bulger, but he’s still property of the Washington Redskins. While it seems like a foregone conclusion that Mike Shanahan will cut him, you never know with Shanahan, who might try to get something back on an investment that flopped and cost him a valued second-round pick in the process. In talking to NFL on FOX studio analyst Michael Strahan last week, he told me, “I think Donovan has something left in the tank, I know it.” And I agree. McNabb will produce.

3). Matt Hasselbeck

There are currently two legit schools of thought on Seattle and Hasselbeck in league circumstances. The first is that Seattle is ready to move on with Charlie Whitehurst and draft a quarterback. The other is that Hasselbeck gives them great insurance if Whitehurst flames out and the quarterback’s ties to the team and the area will ultimately tug him back. For the record, I think Hasselbeck will become free and see if he can get a starting job. Before the CBA insanity, Hasselbeck and the Seahawks were worlds apart on his value for next year. I think Matt, a former Pro Bowler, can still be a savvy veteran presence on a winning team. Hasselbeck proved he can still win against the Saints in the playoffs after an up-and-down season. But I think years of abuse due to a shaky offensive line have caught up with him.

4). Alex Smith

Don’t laugh. There are some very bright NFL people who think he needs his head cleared away from San Francisco. And don’t laugh at this — there are some new coaches with the Niners who think Smith can thrive in Jim Harbaugh’s system. He’s an unrestricted free agent and I’d make a play at him if I trusted my play-caller and offensive line. But I bet Smith goes back to the Niners.

5). Bruce Gradkowski

My radio co-host Rich Gannon really admires this cat’s toughness and leadership. Gradkowski would be a major asset to a quarterback room and he’s proven he can win games.

6). Matt Moore

SLEEPER ALERT! I like Moore as a player. Ok, maybe not as much as Ron Jaworski, who slobbered all over him after the draft a few years ago, taking man crush to a different level. Moore won games for Carolina down the stretch of the 2009 season against good teams. Moore told me a few weeks ago on Sirius NFL Radio that he should be ready close to training camp after shoulder surgery.

7). Jake Delhomme

I know, I know. He won’t be a starter. But don’t be surprised to see Delhomme in a city near you on a team that drafts a young quarterback.

8). Tarvaris Jackson

Yeah, I went there. As Visanthe Shiancoe said to us on Sirius NFL Radio, “He’s won a division and hasn’t even untapped his ability yet.” Don’t get me wrong, he won’t start. But you can do much worse than having Jackson as competition or a heartbeat away.

9). Vince Young

Let me state this on the record. I’d rather play with 10 men on offense than sign Vince Young. He hasn’t changed. Sure, he was smart enough to hire Tom Condon as his agent, but he’s been dumb enough not to listen to Condon’s advice on who to talk to about the position. He’s not a leader. He’s quit on the Titans. Young cannot be trusted and doesn’t get it. And ignorant fans will be clamoring for him to start even when they don’t see how he drags a team down in practice, with lack of preparation, or greater interest in being a celebrity.

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