We are in a strong era for quarterbacks in the NFL. More teams are reasonably well set at the position than in any period I can remember. Not just passable quarterbacks, either — there are a lot of very good pivots in the league right now. As proof of that reality, there are only three teams that are all but certain to be in the market for an upgrade at the position, and only a handful of others that could be in the market but have other needs to address that could be more pressing. Here’s a look at the six most likely potential QB openings at the end of the season:
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All but certain
Kansas City Chiefs
When you have to decide whether Matt Cassel or Brady Quinn is the better option to run your team you really don’t have an option. Cassel has long since worn out his welcome in Kansas City with his poor play and lack of leadership. There is no salvaging that relationship. Quinn hasn’t been given a significant chance to start — and he couldn’t stay healthy when he had the opportunity. At this point in his career it’s clear that he’s not a viable option as a starter — especially not one to follow up a failure like Cassel for a team that desperately needs some success. At this point it’s all but certain the Chiefs will have a Top 3 pick in the draft. That may not be a blessing for teams in the market for a QB this year, though. Geno Smith and Matt Barkley are the only two guys with first round grades right now, but neither appear to be a viable Top 10 option right now — at least not compared to the other talent available. Kansas City might have to get creative to solve their QB issues.
New York Jets
What have we learned this season? First, Mark Sanchez is lousy, and he is always going to be lousy. His window in New York has slammed shut. Second, Tim Tebow has brought far too much of a circus to town with him, and he just doesn’t fit in a media market like New York. More significantly, the coaching staff and his teammates don’t trust him. It’s been a total mess, and the team is imploding. They need a fresh start, and a new quarterback to build around would be more than just a good idea — it’s totally essential. I think a veteran would be a better fit because they would be better able to deal with the insanity of the situation, but a player of the proper caliber might not be available. The one move that will tempt them but they must avoid at all costs is to pick up Michael Vick. That would be a massive disaster.
The Kevin Kolb story is one we keep hearing. Kolb was so attractive as a backup, but couldn’t turn his potential into reality. Seattle experienced the same thing with Matt Flynn this year, but he was rescued by Russell Wilson. Matt Cassel had spent a year in New England as a starter, but he still had hype that far exceeded his accomplishments to date. It’s all Matt Schaub’s fault — he went from backup in Atlanta to star in Texas. The Cardinals have some decent quarterback options, but none are a No. 1. Their offense is impotent despite having the best receiver in the league, so they need a new path. They could be well positioned to draft a first-round QB.
Changes are possible
Quarterback isn’t the biggest issue for the Raiders. Carson Palmer clearly isn’t going to be a long-term option, though, so since they have a lot of rebuilding to do anyway they may as well find their QB of the future at the same time. They may not be in a hurry to do it this year, though, since immediate contributors in the draft look to be in short supply this year.
Unlike the other teams on this list, I don’t think the Browns should make a move. Brandon Weeden has shown enough this year to earn more opportunities. The new ownership group is already looking to change pretty much everything about the team, though, and they could look to build around their own guy instead of one they inherited. Unless they can land one of the top two quarterbacks in the draft, though, they would probably be better off showing patience and letting Weeden develop while focusing on putting some talent around him.
I’m ready to pull the plug on the Blaine Gabbert experiment. That may not be fair because he has very little talent around him, and what he does have has fought with injuries. I was never convinced of Gabbert in the first place, though, and nothing he has done has made me question that. I still think backup Chad Henne can be a solid starter in this league, but the team can’t afford the politics of settling for their backup as their new starter. They need to make a move to salvage their credibility — and they need to get it right this time.