Fantasy Football: Ranking the 32 Quarterback Situations in the NFL

There is no more important position in the NFL than quarterback.

You will hear people make a lot of noise about guys like Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson, Mark Rypien, and other QBs that led their team to Super Bowl victories.  Or even Super Bowl losses like Rex Grossman, Jake Delhomme, and Chris Chandler.

They may also talk about how players like Kurt Warner and Tom Brady slipped in the draft, but that's an argument against taking a quarterback at the top of the draft, not about whether or not you need to have a great quarterback in order to consistently win in the NFL.

You do need one.  Teams like the Ravens have been able to stay in contention for years, but they still haven't made the Super Bowl since 2000.  A team like Pittsburgh that has both a dominating defense and a Pro Bowl quarterback has been able to make the Super Bowl three times in six years.  

You won't see many teams make the playoffs this year without at least a "very good" quarterback, depending on how the rest of the season plays out for Chicago and Houston, but those teams made it this far with two very good quarterbacks.

The same holds true for fantasy.  It's important to take note of who the best quarterbacks in the league are, as they'll affect the offense around them.  I am just fascinated by quarterback play this year, not only because of records being broken, but by the high amount of quarterbacks that are in their first or second year, along with the upcoming class that could be better than last years if all of the top juniors declare.

Because of how the top and bottom teams in the NFL are shaking out, it will be interesting to see what teams might consider drafting a quarterback this year and what teams will not.  We've seen just how quickly things can turn to panic mode when your quarterback gets seriously injured.

So, with that, I want to take the opportunity to rank the best QB "Situations" (Not the best quarterbacks) in the NFL.  Which team is most stable?  Which team is most desperate?  Which teams are on the fence about how to proceed?  

I am basing this off of talent, contract, depth, age, injuries, and any other important factors that will come into play.  This is how I see how all 32 teams stack up at the most important position in the game, starting with the BEST and ending with the WORST.

The extensive list that you are about to read, that took many hours of research and writing, was written by yours truly and you should follow me on twitter @casetines because I'm a really nice guy.  Or a mean guy if that's what you prefer.  And shameless apparently.

 

1. Green Bay Packers

How obvious was this?

Aaron Rodgers is the top quarterback in the game, the reigning Super Bowl MVP, he's a lock for the 2011 MVP, and the Packers have won 16 straight games.  Rodgers is not yet 28 years old, he's thrown a career-high 31 TD passes already this season, and only 4 interceptions.  He has a ridiculous 128.8 QB rating.  The record is 121.1 by Peyton Manning in 2004.  His 9.6 yards per pass attempt is the highest since 2000.  He's on pace for 49.6 touchdown passes, putting him right in line to tie Tom Brady's record of 50.

Rodgers signed a six-year, $65 million deal in 2008 that will keep him in Green Bay until 2014 and there's no reason to believe he won't retire a Packer.  He's not even at the midway point of his career right now, barring major catastrophe. 

He had concerns with concussions in the past, but otherwise has been the picture of health.

If Rodgers weren't enough, backup Matt Flynn (LSU, 2008 National Champion QB) is considered to be one of the top non-starting quarterbacks in the league.  There's a lot of talk that Flynn will join the long list of Matt's (Hasselbeck, Schaub, Cassel) to go from backup on a team that's secure at QB to the starter on a team that's not.  It's very possible that a team on the bottom of this list will trade with Green Bay to grab Flynn and sign him to a contract extension, a la Kevin Kolb last year.  Flynn started against the Patriots last year and completed 24 of 37 passes for 251 yards, 3 TD/1 INT. 

Flynn is the only backup currently on the 53-man roster, and Graham Harrell (Texas Tech, fourth in Heisman in 2008) is on the practice squad.  If they make a trade, they'll just have to address the backup situation again.

Last drafted QB: Brian Brohm, 2nd round, 2008.  Matt Flynn, 7th round, 2008.

How current QB was acquired: Draft, 24th overall, 2005

Signed through: 2014

 

2. New Orleans Saints

Deciding who to put first was easy.  Everything after that could get difficult. 

Based on health, age, and experience, I'm giving a slight edge to Drew Brees and the Saints.  Brees currently leads the NFL in completions, attempts, and yards and he's completing a career high 70.9% of his passes.  Brees fell just shy of Dan Marino's yardage record in 2008, but he should be able to take the crown this year, on pace for 5,321.  

Brees did throw 22 interceptions last season, but he's always been a risk-taker that can make up for his mistakes with huge gains.  There have been a lot of contract discussion talks between Brees and the Saints this season, at one point with the sides "far apart" in negotiations but this is the NFL and there is not a chance in hell that the Saints will let Brees walk away.

He's never had any issues with health and he's a little bit younger than Tom Brady.

Backup Chase Daniels has yet to become "notable" but Brees has missed one start in six years with New Orleans. 

Last QB drafted: Sean Canfield, 7th round, 2010.  (After Archie Manning, the 2nd overall pick in 1971, the Saints highest drafted QB was Danny Wuerfful, 99th overall, in 1997)

How current QB was acquired: Free agency

Signed through: 2011

 

3. New England Patriots

I would not say that Tom Brady is a step behind Brees in terms of talent, but there were just a couple of factors that I had to weigh in order to make a tough decision.

Brady is about a year and a half older than Brees and has had one major injury in his career.  Not that the injury affected him after the 2008 season, but I have to find tie-breakers somewhere.  The injury to Peyton Manning was just proof of how much closer you come to mortality with every passing day in the NFL.

Brady hasn't played as well this year as he did last year, but he's still one of the few elite quarterbacks in the league.  He signed a five-year, $78.5 million contract extension last year and the Patriots have no concerns at the position.  He threw four interceptions in a game against the Bills this season after throwing four all of last season.  He's still near the top of the NFL in yards per game, holds a 102.5 QB rating, and thrown 25 TD passes.  He's completing 65.4% of his passes, a bit behind Brees and Rodgers.

Backup Brian Hoyer has rarely seen the field in two years of play, but shown ability in the preseason.  Enough to also be considered as a possible trade candidate for a team in need of a quarterback.  He'll become more expendable now that the Patriots used a 2011 third-round pick on Ryan Mallett out of Arkansas.  At one point Mallett was considered one of the top pro prospects in college, but saw his stock slowly start to fall until dropping to New England.

Mallett struggled some in the preseason, but he's only a rookie and will take time to become game-ready in the regular season.  The Patriots do not lack depth behind Brady.

Last QB drafted: Ryan Mallett, 3rd round, 2011

How current QB was acquired: Draft, 6th round, 2000

Signed through: 2014

 

4. New York Giants

At certain points during these rankings you might say to yourself "What the F@#$" but stop swearing.

Remember, this isn't just a ranking of quarterbacks, this is a ranking of "QB Situations and Stability" and the Giants are very stable at quarterback.  

Eli Manning hasn't missed a start in the last seven seasons, the Giants are consistently in the playoffs in one of the most competitive divisions, and at the age of 30, he's finally playing at a high level statistically.  I have spent a lot of time making fun of Eli Manning because of his face and the fact that fans overrate the crap out of him, but the Giants are set with Manning for probably another five years and this year he's cut down on mistakes and increased productivity.

Backup David Carr isn't very good, but he can manage a game if needed.  In New York, he is never needed, so he's in the perfect situation.

The Giants could draft a quarterback and groom him to be the successor, and after seeing what happened to Eli's brother, maybe they should.  But at this point they're set.

Last QB drafted: Rhett Bomar, 5th round, 2009 (Philip Rivers/Eli Manning is the first QB the Giants have drafted in the first round since Phil Simms in 1979.)

How current QB was acquired: Draft and trade with San Diego in 2004, Philip Rivers and picks for Eli Manning, the first overall selection.

Signed through: 2015

 

5. Carolina Panthers

Why am I putting the Panthers this high?  I asked myself a question: "Which QB would I be most shocked about if I heard he wasn't starting for his team in four years?"  The answer that came out slightly ahead of the other teams I was considering was Cam Newton.

Newton was just the number one pick, he's under a team-friendly $22 million contract, he's the hottest story in the NFL.  Newton might be 2-8 this season, but he's scored in every game this year except for one, he's showing potential of being an elite QB, he's camera-friendly, and he puts butts in the seats.  Newton is on his way to being one of the faces in the NFL and he'll be strutting his stuff next to Ray Lewis and Faith Hill on Sunday Nights next year.  (Sorry Cam.)

The only question I have with Cam is "Well, will he get hurt?" but I can't knock a guy because we don't know yet if he's injury prone.  We have to take our chances and I think the Panthers are set at quarterback for the next decade with how things look.

Backups Derek Anderson and Jimmy Clausen were among the worst quarterbacks in the league last season, but now they're backups where their value is much higher.  Just as long as they're not starting.  

Last QB drafted: Cam Newton, 1st overall, 2011

Other QBs drafted by Panthers: Kerry Collins is the only other QB the Panthers have drafted above the 4th round.

Signed through: 2014

 

6. Pittsburgh Steelers

Ben Roethlisberger has been to three Super Bowls and won two.  He's finished with a winning record as a starter in every season except for 2006 when he led the league in interceptions.  He's 76-32 in his career and 10-3 in the playoffs.

The only reason I knocked Pittsburgh was because Roethlisberger is a wild card off of the field.  He has twice had run-ins with the law, was suspended four games last season, and he nearly killed himself in a motorcycle accident in 2006.  If there was any QB in the league that I'd be least shocked about hearing in a scandal or something major off of the field that cost him his career, it's Big Ben.

Charlie Batch has started six NFL games in the last seven years and Dennis Dixon is too raw to tell if he's going to make it in the NFL as a QB.

Last QB drafted: Dennis Dixon, 5th round, 2008.  

How current QB was acquired: Draft, 11th overall, 2004.  (Roethlisberger was the first QB the Steelers drafted in the first round since Mark Malone in 1980)

Signed through: 2015

 

7. Dallas Cowboys

This was probably questionable until recently.  There is no more scrutinized position in the NFL than being the Cowboys quarterback.  So you really have to be on top of your game to maintain stability and trust that there's no doubt about who the QB is.  Tony Romo is helping solidify his status this season.

After game-losing interceptions to the Jets and Lions to start the year, then finding themselves at 3-4 after a loss to the Eagles, the Cowboys have won three in a row and in first place in the NFC East.  They play the Giants twice in the final four games, and December is a notoriously tough month for Romo, so he's going to need to prove himself again at the end of the year.

Statistically, Romo is the best quarterback in the history of the Cowboys, but he'll need to improve his playoff record to live up to the hype of what it means to be the Dallas quarterback.  He's having a great season and could finish with career-highs in all major categories.  He's suffered injuries in the last year that put a little bit of doubt on his health, but not much.

Backup Jon Kitna is not much of a factor in my decision.  He's way past any prime he had.  But Stephen McGree was a 4th round pick in 2009 out of Texas A&M that has potential.  He is only the 2nd QB drafted by Dallas since 1991.  (Along with Quincy Carter.)

Last QB drafted: Stephen McGee, 4th round, 2009.  (Troy Aikman and Craig Morton (1965) are the only QBs the Cowboys have ever drafted in the first round.)

How current QB was acquired: Undrafted free agent.

Signed through: 2013

 

8. Detroit Lions

If Matthew Stafford was the picture of health, this ranking would be ahead of Cam Newton.  I will admit that I'm worried about his 19 games missed in his first two years, and subsequently showing up on the injury report at times this year.  Otherwise, Stafford is the best young quarterback to enter this league as a number one pick since Carson Palmer.  Or maybe Peyton Manning if you consider Palmer's fall from the top.

Stafford has struggled at times this year as the Lions have found themselves in early holes, but has also been able to pull the Lions back into the games with his excellent play and has thrown 25 touchdowns in 10 games.  He is already one of the top 6 or 7 quarterbacks in the league at the age of 23, but I do knock the Lions overall status because of his health, and a lack of a great backup.

Shaun Hill and Drew Stanton are capable, but the Lions play at another level with Stafford.  If he got hurt again, and because of his injury history that's what worries me, then the Lions are not a very good team.  I've seen a team like Philadelphia recover from injury at the QB position time and time again, but the Lions seem less capable at this juncture.

Last QB drafted: Matthew Stafford, 1st overall, 2009

Other first round QBs drafted: Stafford was the 4th QB drafted in the first round by the Lions since 1965 after Chuck Long, Andre Ware, and Joey Harrington.  Four QB's they drafted are still in the NFL: Charlie Batch, Drew Stanton, and Dan Orlovsky are the others.

Signed through: 2014

 

9. Atlanta Falcons

Matt Ryan has failed to live up to some expectations this year, but he's still posting above-average numbers.  The addition of Julio Jones was apparently going to help Ryan step up to the next level, but he's only 26.  His numbers are comparable to players like Drew Brees and Tom Brady at the same age.

The Falcons are set at quarterback for a long time barring something unforeseen.  He has thrown 15 TDs against 10 INTs this year, completing 60.9% of his passes for 2,635 yards and a QB rating of 85.6.  He's played better as of late and the Falcons have won four of their last five games.  

Backup Chris Redman is nothing special, but he's experienced and can fill-in decently at any moment.  Ryan has missed two games in his career.

Last QB drafted: Matt Ryan, 3rd overall, 2008

Other first round QBs drafted: In addition to Ryan, the Falcons have used top 3 picks on Steve Bartkowski and Michael Vick.  They used a 2nd round pick on Brett Favre and a 3rd round pick on Matt Schaub.

Signed through: 2013

 

10. Philadelphia Eagles

This is a case of a teams situation that has started to slide as the season has gone along.  What helps is the enormous amount of potential that Michael Vick brings to any game, the depth behind him, and the fact that Andy Reid and the Eagles seem to churn out new quarterback prospects every year. 

Even in the times when Donovan McNabb was set in stone as the starter, the Eagles would ultimately have to replace his injured body late in the year and sure enough some no-name or some veteran would come in and help them get to the playoffs.  I just never really worry about the Eagles, but that doesn't mean there aren't concerns.

Concerns about the fact that Vick is injured again.  Concerns about the fact that he wasn't playing very well before he was injured.  Concerns about his new contract extension and whether or not he's going to ever live up to it.  Concerns about the attitude of backup Vince Young.  

The Eagles have a former number one pick, a former number three pick, and a third-stringer in Mike Kafka that has shown potential in the past to at least follow in the steps of Kevin Kolb and find a starting situation elsewhere.  The Eagles have not done much to help their stability at QB this season, but they're deep and talented.  I'm just not in love with the idea of investing heavily in Vick and patching the band-aid with Young.

Last QB drafted: Mike Kafka, 4th round, 2010

How current QB was acquired: Free agency

Signed through: 2016 (Most likely 2015, as 6th year is virtually impossible to vest.)

 

11. San Diego Chargers

Another team on their way down this year, perhaps only slightly, is San Diego and Philip Rivers.  What exactly is wrong Rivers?  Why do all of a sudden suck so badly?

One could mostly excuse his league-leading 17 interceptions through 10 games as an anomaly.  Because that's what it probably is.  Eli led the league in interceptions twice.  Big Ben threw 23.  Peyton Manning as a rookie threw almost more interceptions than any other QB in history.  Drew Brees had 22 last year.  He just doesn't look right out there, but he is still throwing some touchdowns and keeping the Chargers somewhat competitive.

The Chargers would have once topped this list with ease when Rivers backed up Brees, and they're still very stable.  Still, maybe this is a good opportunity for the Chargers to wonder if Billy Volek is enough at backup.  Practice squad QB Drew Willy is probably not the answer as a backup either.  He hasn't missed a game in his career as a starter, it just might be worth asking the question of "What would we do without Rivers?"

Brees was once a not-very-good QB and that's why San Diego has Rivers to begin with.

Rivers turns 30 in a couple of weeks, he'll be with the Chargers for a long time.  This is a season to forget.

Last QB drafted: Jonathan Crompton, 5th round, 2010

How current QB was acquired: Draft and trade with the New York Giants.  (Chargers included picks that would turn out to be Shawne Merriman and Nate Kaeding, as well as Eli Manning.) 

Signed through: 2015

 

12. San Francisco 49ers

Another situation that has risen quickly up the ranks this season.  The 49ers went into the 2011 draft needing to draft a quarterback of the future, and that's what they did with Colin Kaepernick with the 36th pick out of Nevada.  Little did they know that Alex Smith would lead them to a 9-1 record to start the year, making few mistakes along the way.

When the 49ers were at their worst following a 2-14 season in 2004, they drafted Smith to be the future of the franchise and they passed on Aaron Rodgers.  He was called upon to be a starter in his rookie season when he was only 21 years old and was terrible.  He played a full season the next year at age 22, and led the team to a 7-9 record with respectable numbers considering his age.  But their was very little patience with the young QB.  Smith hit the bench more often than a homeless man in Central Park and quickly the fans and the organization lost faith in him, finally restructuring his deal and drafting Kaepernick. 

Now, like the situation San Diego dealt with years ago with Brees and Rivers, the 49ers find themselves in a situation that most NFL teams would kill for; a good starter and a promising rookie backup.  Smith is 8th in the NFL in QB rating this year (93.9) and he's thrown four interceptions in 10 games.  He's not asked to do a lot, but he is doing exactly what San Francisco needs him to do.  If the 49ers find themselves with 13 wins in the regular season and a deep playoff run, what will they do with Smith?  Also, Smith is still only 27.

Colin Kaepernick was a dual-threat QB at Nevada and perhaps if the 2011 draft class of QB's wasn't so deep, he would have gone much higher.  The 49ers have the luxury of letting Kaepernick sit and learn for awhile under Smith.  Beyond those two, the 49ers 3rd-string QB, undrafted free agent Scott Tolzien, is considered to be "interesting" if nothing else after showing promise in the pre-season with San Diego.

Last QB drafted: Kaepernick, 36th overall, 2011

How current QB was acquired: Draft, 1st overall, 2005.  Joe Montana was selected in the third round.  The Niners traded 2nd and 4th round picks to the Bucs in order to acquire Steve Young.

Signed through: 2011

 

13. Baltimore Ravens

I struggled a little bit with placing the Ravens this high because I am not a complete believer in Joe Flacco, but there are enough reasons for me to believe this position is stable for awhile.  Flacco has not missed a game in his three and a half year NFL career and has a 39-19 record as a starter.

He's putting up his worst season to date, completing only 55.4% of his passes and throwing eight interceptions and nine fumbles in 10 games with only 12 touchdowns.  It seemed he was improving each year in the NFL but this has been a step backwards.  Still, the Ravens rely less on the QB than other teams, and Flacco is the best they've ever had.  After seeing the failure of Kyle Boller, they will be more than satisfied with Flacco and he could very well recover from his terrible start.  Flacco has also won at least one playoff game in every season.  

They don't have much depth after him, as Tyrod Taylor is the only other QB on the roster and his abilities at QB are questionable at best.  He's a lesser version of Michael Vick, drafted in the 6th round of the 2011 draft, and has a lot of work to do on his passing game.  The Ravens would do well to get a more experienced backup.

Last QB drafted: Tyrod Taylor, 7th round, 2011

How current QB was acquired: Draft, 18th overall, 2008.  Boller was the only other Ravens QB to be drafted above the 3rd round.

Signed through: 2012

 

14. Oakland Raiders

This one went from bad to above-average with a single trade.  After Jason Campbell broke his collarbone, the Raiders were left to deal with Kyle Boller and Terrelle Pryor at QB.  Two days later they traded for Carson Palmer and found themselves with an experienced veteran who was under contract until 2014.

Palmer has led the team to two straight wins on the road and a division lead in the AFC West.  Though he has dealt with serious injuries and is 32 years old, Palmer played full seasons in 2009 and 2010, with moderate success.  He'll never be as good as his 2005 season (101.1 QB rating, 32 TD/12 INT, 67.8% completions) but he'll be the best QB that Oakland has had in quite some time.

Campbell was really coming on this year, and he hopes to return as a backup in December, but he'll probably be playing elsewhere in 2012.

Pryor was a supplemental third round draft pick by the Raiders (who have decided to give up their next two drafts basically with all of these moves) that's a project but one of the better projects in the NFL.  Maybe he'll be ready to step in when Palmer is ready to step out.

Last QB drafted: JaMarcus Russell, 1st overall, 2007.  Since 1987, the Raiders have drafted eight quarterbacks, and none has started 32 games or more.  Including Russell, and former first round pick Todd Marinovich.

How current QB was acquired: Trade

Signed through: 2014

 

15. Tennessee Titans

Moving on from Kerry Collins and Vince Young, it would seem that the Titans would have some serious work to do at the position if they were going to compete any time soon.  So they signed Matt Hasselbeck and drafted Jake Locker and now they're as secure as when they had... well, a young Vince Young.

Hasselbeck was signed to a cheap three-year deal and has played very well, completing 61.1% of his passes with 14 TD/8 INT and 235.7 yards per game.  

Still, this ranking is mostly based on Locker.  He was a top recruit out of high school and decided to go the University of Washington where he didn't do a lot of winning, but he was the most exciting quarterback the program has had since Marques Tuiasosopo.  The Titans picked him eighth overall and some believe he's one his way to being a huge NFL star, compared to Steve Young.  It was thought he'd be the number one overall pick, but after a poor senior season, he "fell" to eighth.  

Locker came into the game this week and played well and it seems likely that he could see a lot more game action in 2012.  I don't think the Titans would get rid of Hasselbeck after one season, which gives them even more stability if he becomes Locker's backup.

Last QB drafted: Jake Locker, 8th overall, 2011.  Going back to even their Houston Oiler days, the franchise has picked four QBs at third overall, and strictly all of their first round QBs were third overall until Locker: Vince Young, Steve McNair, Jim Everett, and Dan Pastorini.  

How current QBs were acquired: Hasselbeck, free agency.  Locker, draft.

Signed through: Hasselbeck through 2013, Locker through 2014.

 

16. Indianapolis Colts

How do you fall from perhaps being number one this list to middle of the pack (and probably some people would say that I'm crazy for putting them this high)?  The Indianapolis Colts were "Too Big Too Fail."

If you're unfamiliar with that HBO movie, it's about the housing bubble crisis that hit America so hard this past decade.  A system that was too big too fail because it was too perfect.  The Colts got used to Peyton Manning and how great he was and built a system around the best quarterback in the NFL.  A system that was so damn good that it became the worst in the NFL when Manning got hurt for the first time in his career.  The Patriots dealt with a season without Tom Brady, but the Colts couldn't only not recover from losing Manning, they haven't been able to win a game.

Still, Manning is still under contract for four more years and it would seem likely that he would recover from his neck injury.  It's possible that he doesn't, but he just missed the first game action of his career.  

In addition to that, I'm giving the Colts a bump for sitting in the driver seat for the number one pick in 2012, which will almost certainly be Andrew Luck.  They can draft Luck and be number two on this list at worst if they decided to sit him behind a healthy Manning.  Or they could trade it away for a bounty, or trading Manning for some additional help.

They get serious knocks though for having Dan Orlovsky and Curtis Painter as backups and a system that crashes hard when Manning is not around.

Last QB drafted: Curtis Painter, 6th round, 2009.  The only other QB drafted since Manning was Jim Sorgi, 6th round, 2004.  The Colts used the first overall pick in 1990 on Jeff George.

How current QB was acquired: Manning and Painter in the draft, Orlovsky in free agency.

Signed through: 2015

 

17. Cincinnati Bengals

This part of the list is also very tough because I have to decide between experienced quarterbacks with injuries and young quarterbacks that lack a large sample size or a good veteran to help them along the way.  If I had done this evaluation a week ago or two weeks ago, the Bengals would have been further down this list.  But I'm doing it today, so there you have it.

The Bengals rid themselves of Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco and replaced them with two rookies who have outperformed what those two did in recent years, at least in terms of victories.  Andy Dalton was the 35th overall pick in the 2011 draft and it took him less than a game into the year to replace Bruce Gradkowski as starter.

At TCU he was "just a winner" and he holds most TCU records and is near the top of a lot of NCAA record books as well with his career victories.  During his rookie season, he's been exceptional, much like Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco were several years ago.  59.3% completions, 15 TD/12 INT, 79.6 QB rating, as well as a 6-4 record.  However, he has struggled in his last two game against Pittsburgh and Baltimore, the two toughest tests he'll ever face as a Bengal.  

Still, you couldn't ask for much more from Dalton and the Bengals will happily stick with him in the foreseeable future.  Gradkowski is a capable backup with starting experience at Tampa Bay and Oakland.  Zac Robinson is a project on the practice squad.

Last QB drafted: Dalton, 35th overall, 2011

Big Mistake: Before they had an official NFL combine in 1982, it was hard to judge (just like it is now, but less hard) how good a player is going to be.  Joe Montana rated very low in 1979 and went in the third round.  The Bengals used the third overall pick on the QB that rated the highest: Jack Thompson out of Washington State, a player who started 5 games for the Bengals in his career.

Signed through: 2014

 

18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I'm sure this looks low to a lot of people, but I guess I'm more concerned about Josh Freeman than most people.  Afterall, last season he broke out for 61.4% completions, 3,451 yards, 25 TD/6 INT, 95.9 QB rating and a 10-6 record at the age of 22.  I could probably talk myself into a higher ranking.  

But I look at Tampa and I see a team that doesn't develop long-term success on the offensive side of the ball.  One year later, Freeman is throwing for more yards and at a higher completion rate, but with 11 TD/15 INT and a 75 rating.  His yards per attempt is also way down from last season, and the Bucs are 4-6.  I guess what I'm saying is, based on the trend this year, I could see Freeman falling out of favor within two years.  I could also see him bouncing back.

I've also always been a fan of backup Josh Johnson, a dual-threat QB out of San Diego that has been no less than "very interesting" in the games I've seen him play.  I think he could develop into a good starter in the right system.

Last QB drafted: Freeman, 17th overall, 2009

First round QBs: Freeman joins Trent Dilfer, Vinny Testaverde, and Doug Williams as QBs drafted by Tampa in the first round.  Dilfer and Williams won Super Bowl titles with other teams.

Signed through: 2013

 

19. Chicago Bears

It's just hard for me to look at Caleb Hanie at this moment and say "they're stable and in a good situation."  Jay Cutler didn't really deal with serious injury until the NFC championship game last year and then a random broken thumb this week, so I don't see him as a player with "health concerns" but at the same time I see that the Bears are not prepared for when bad things happen.

Chicago was looking like the best threat in the NFC to stop Green Bay but how they perform over the next six weeks will be very telling.  I still see Cutler as a player that gives them long-term stability, but right now is when we'll find out how much Hanie can or can not really play.

Rookie Nathan Enderle, a fifth round pick out of the University of Idaho, is dangerously close to playing.  

(Bears have signed Kyle Orton back)

Last QB drafted: Nathan Enderle, 6th round, 2011.  Previously, Dan LeFevour, 6th round, 2010.

How current QB was acquired: Traded with a 5th round pick for Kyle Orton, two firsts and a third.

Signed through: 2013

 

20. Houston Texans

I would have them above Chicago and a few other teams if it weren't for health concerns, because I am a huge fan of Matt Schaub.  Much like Stafford, I want to put the team higher but I just can't as of today.  This is the third time in five years that Schaub will miss significant playing time with injury.

Now the Texans, on the verge of their first playoff appearance, are like a drunken sorority girl as they turn to Matt Leinart and say "What are you going to do to me?" unsure if the results will be positive or negative.

Leinart gets another shot in the NFL, and honestly this is the best shot he could have asked for.  The Texans rely on the run game and defense and they've got a very good tight end and one of the best wide receivers in the league.  He also once had Larry Fitzgerald though, so who knows for sure what will happen.  With Schaub, the Texans were Super Bowl contenders, we don't know what Leinart will bring but it will either jump the Texans up this list, or keep them in the second half of it.

T.J. Yates is a fifth-round rookie out of North Carolina and the backup now.

Last QB drafted: Yates.  The Texans have drafted six QBs in their history, David Carr being the highest in 2002 and then Dave Ragone in the third round of 2003.

How current QB was acquired: Trade with Atlanta Falcons for swapping first round picks plus two 2nd round picks.  Current QB Matt Leinart was a free agent signing.

Signed through: 2012

 

21. St. Louis Rams

They gave a $50 million bonus to an injury-prone quarterback that they can't protect and gave him no weapons.  Backup A.J. Feeley is experienced but not very good, so when things go wrong, they can go very wrong and now the Rams are one of the worst offenses in the league.

I give the Rams an upgrade because I do think that Sam Bradford is very talented and if given a better offensive line and some more weapons (Brandon Lloyd catches less than 50% of his targets) that he will succeed and the Rams will not regret that bonus.  But as of right now, it's not a good situation.  They should get another QB on the roster, one that's young and has potential to improve.  Mostly, they need to improve the situation around Bradford and avoid a David Carr situation.

Last QB drafted: Bradford, 2009.  Bradford was the first QB the Rams franchise drafted in the first round since 1964.  They drafted current Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick in the 7th round in 2005.

Signed through: 2015.  While signing bonuses make Bradford one of the richest QB's in the NFL, his base salary of $405,000 ranks 55th amongst NFL quarterbacks.  His signing bonus of $50 million keeps him out of the poor house and makes his overall cap hit this season over $22 million.

 

22. New York Jets

I just don't think that Mark Sanchez is very good.  Yes, the Jets have gone to the AFC Championship game the last two years and Sanchez is 4-2 in the playoffs with two game-winning drives, but nothing in his numbers suggests that he's part of the solution as much as he is part of the problem.  Sanchez has 43 career interceptions in 41 career regular season games and last season he led the league in dropped interceptions, meaning that number could be way higher.

He's slowly improved his numbers each season, but he's older than Matthew Stafford and only a couple of years younger than Alex Smith.  A 25 year old (who is the highest salaried quarterback in the LEAGUE!) should be better than 57.1% completions, 2,333 yards, 14 TD/10 INT and 6.9 yards per attempt.  I don't think the Jets are going to replace Sanchez any time soon, but I will actually be surprised if he's the quarterback in five years.  His best case scenario would be Eli Manning, but that's a long ways away.

Backup Mark Brunell isn't a factor in anything, he's just a veteran who wouldn't do any better than Sanchez.  

Last QB drafted: Greg McElroy, 7th round, 2011

Fact: Sanchez was the first QB the Jets drafted in the top 10 since Richard Todd in 1976.  They selected Joe Namath first overall in 1965.

Signed through: 2013.  While his base salary in 2011 ranks #1 in the NFL for QBs (14.75 mill) his signing bonus counts for just $2.5 million this season.  In 2013, he will have a base of $4 million and a bonus of $4 million.

 

23. Minnesota Vikings

Another team that went through a big transition in the quarterback position over the offseason, the Vikings went from the too-old Brett Favre and inconsistent Tarvaris Jackson to the too-old Donovan McNabb and surprise top pick Christian Ponder.

I thought McNabb would enjoy a bounce-back season this year, but he was by far one of the worst quarterbacks in the entire league.  He is not in Minnesota's short or long-term plans as they are in the very middle of a rebuild.

I was surprised when Ponder shot up some draft boards and then the Vikings picked him out of Florida State with the 12th overall pick, the 4th QB taken in the draft.  Ponder has been inconsistent, as one would expect, but shown flashes at times of being the Vikings quarterback of the future.  Still, the entire notion is doubtful until we see what he does next year.  There is no guarantee that he would have a guarantee on the job beyond that.

Third-stringer Joe Webb was drafted in the sixth-round out of UAB last season and expected to be a wide receiver, but Brad Childress announced he would play quarterback.  He was very interesting in his limited time there last season, but he is nothing more than a project.

Last QB drafted: Ponder, 12th overall, 2011.  Ponder is the second-highest drafted QB in Vikings history.  Daunte Culpepper went 11th in 1999.

Signed through: 2014

 

24. Buffalo Bills

On October 28th, the Bills were 4-2 and Ryan Fitzpatrick had thrown 12 TDs/6 INTs during that stretch to keep the Bills in first place.  They also signed Fitzpatrick to a 6-year, $59 million contract extension that day.

Since that time, the Bills are 1-3 and Fitzpatrick has thrown 4 TD/8 INT.

That's how long it took from going "The Bills are set at quarterback" to "Did the Bills make a bad decision?"

Fitzpatrick was seen as a flawed but capable quarterback for most of his career but when he blew up in the first three games of this season to lead the Bills to a 3-0 start, it seemed like they were set.  I'm far less sure about that now, but the potential is still there for Fitz and the Bills to be a good fit for the next six years.  Potentially.

Tyler Thigpen is an experienced backup but not that talented.  Brad Smith is the emergency QB.

Last QB drafted: Levi Brown, 7th round, 2010.  Trent Edwards, 3rd round, 2007.  JP Losman, 22nd overall, 2004.

How current QB was acquired: Free agency.

Signed through: 2017

 

25. Kansas City Chiefs

In 2010, Matt Cassel was the Pro Bowl quarterback of a playoff team.

In 2011, he's 4-5 as a starter, 59.5 completion%, 1,713 yards, 10 TD/9 INT, 76.6 QB rating, and on IR.  In two of his three seasons in Kansas City, a team that gave him a six-year, $62.7 million contract when he was acquired from New England, he has been a disappointment.  That contract included $28 million in guaranteed money and he's already earned $40 million from the deal.  The Chiefs will probably need to address the quarterback situation early in the draft in 2012 and may move on from Cassel sooner rather than later.

The Chiefs were good in the middle of this season, but have been embarrassed in four blowouts this year to the Bills, Lions, Dolphins, and Patriots last night.  

Tyler Palko made his first start of the 2011 season last night and even though the Patriots are a probably playoff team, the Chiefs could only manage 3 points against one of the softer defenses in the NFL and Palko threw three interceptions.  They just activated rookie Ricky Stanzi out of Iowa, a fifth-round pick.  

The Chiefs do have a capable QB that they'll probably want to keep around for next season, but I can't see it happening beyond that and they'll need to find a quarterback of the future.

Last QB drafted: Stanzi.  The last QB the Chiefs drafted in the 1st round was Todd Blackledge in 1983.  

How current QB was acquired: Traded with Mike Vrabel from the New England Patriots for the 34th overall pick.

Signed through: 2014.  Cassel has the third highest base salary for QBs this season ($12.25 mill) but only a $5.25 million base next season with bonuses of $205,200 each season until the contract expires.

 

26. Cleveland Browns

The only quarterback to start more than two seasons in a row for Cleveland since they re-entered the league in 1999 has been Tim Couch.  Since then guys like Kelly Holcomb, Jeff Garcia, Charlie Frye, Derek Anderson, and Brady Quinn have all tried and failed to be the quarterback that would lead Cleveland back to the promised land.

Colt McCoy is the latest, but he hasn't done much this year to prove me right when I thought he'd be a good fantasy sleeper this year.  McCoy is completing less than 60% of his passes with 11 TD/7 INT in 10 games, but mostly it's the fact that the Browns are one of the worst offenses in the league and one of the worst teams.  At 4-6, the Browns might have played themselves out of a top draft pick, but I wouldn't doubt that they'd jump at one of the top two or three if they get the chance.

The Browns have the most ammunition to offer the Colts if they want to grab Andrew Luck because they have two first round picks next year, and they could throw in McCoy for good measure.

Backup Seneca Wallace has never panned out like he planned to when he refused to switch to wide receiver in Seattle.  Third-stringer Thaddeus Lewis is a third-stringer for Cleveland.

Last QB drafted: McCoy, 3rd round, 2010.  He is the sixth QB drafted by Cleveland since expansion in 1999.

Signed through: 2013

 

27. Denver Broncos

Too low?  Too high?  Just right?  

A few weeks ago, few people would have questioned that the Broncos needed to get a new quarterback, and that they led the league in bad quarterbacks on the active roster with three.  Now Tim Tebow just "keeps winning" so does that mean that they are set now?  With a player that completes four or five passes a game?

I wouldn't bank too much faith in a player that will lose his job if his defense falters, or his receivers fail, or he plays a team that knows how to stop him (and they will figure it out soon) because Tebow won't put up the statistics to keep his job in spite of those other things.

The Broncos need a quarterback, not a sideshow.  

Kyle Orton would be a good backup quarterback to a good quarterback, because he's got experience and can sling it a little bit.  But he's not much of a starter. (And now he's waived..... )  Brady Quinn is still in the NFL collecting paychecks, and I can only assume that if you're not good enough to get a shot in Denver, then you're not good enough.  He's probably on the same level as Orton in many ways.

Last QB drafted: Tebow, 25th overall, 2010.  Tebow joins Jay Cutler and Tomy Maddox as the only QBs Denver has drafted in the first round.  John Elway was acquired for QB Mark Herrmann, OL Chris Hinton, and a 1st round pick because he refused to play for the Baltimore Colts.

Signed through: 2014.

 

28. Jacksonville Jaguars

Because Blaine Gabbert looks like the worst quarterback in the NFL and that he might be years (read: YEARS) away from being a good NFL quarterback.  He was a project when he entered the draft, a guy that might develop into the best in the whole class, but still a project.

So the Jags did the reasonable thing and cut David Garrard before the regular season, named Luke McCown (yes, Luke McCown) starter, even though no reasonable person would have expected that to last longer than a month.  Gabbert was named the starter after two games and the Jags have three times failed to top 100 yards passing and in terms of total passing yards their season high is 200.  In the year when all the passing records are set to fall, the Jags haven't topped 200.

Gabbert is completing 48.9% of his passes for 1,235 yards (137.2 yards a game!) 6 TD/5 INT and 5.3 yards per attempt.  

The Jags just spent the tenth overall pick on a quarterback and yet I don't see how they can go into 2012 with him as the starter or without at least some competition in camp.  This is embarrassing and it's almost like they're doing this just so they can relocate to Los Angeles without anybody in Jacksonville caring.

They're above these other teams only because they did just spend the tenth overall pick on Gabbert, and he's still got lots of potential.

Last QB drafted: Gabbert, 10th overall, 2011.  The Jags hate to draft quarterbacks as Gabbert is only the fifth they've ever taken after: Rob Johnson, Jonathan Quinn, David Garrard, and Byron Leftwich.  Leftwich was the only one drafted above the 3rd round, going 7th in 2003.  

Signed through: 2014

 

29. Arizona Cardinals

So is it worse to use the tenth overall pick on a quarterback that looks terrible or to trade a second round pick, a cornerback, and give a 5-year, $63 million contract to a quarterback that looks terrible?

Kevin Kolb was guaranteed $21 million and an average base salary of $12.6 million based off of a few starts in Philadelphia, and he completed 56.8% of his passes for 1,706 yards, 8 TD/8 INT in seven starts with a 1-6 record.  And it's not like he didn't have one of the best wide receivers in the game.  There was even a quarterback controversy brewing with John Skelton, and John Skelton is John Skelton.  

There's no controversy after Skelton looked even worse this past Sunday against San Francisco and Richard Bartel is a 28 year old third-string quarterback that didn't look any better.  

Kevin Kolb has dealt with multiple injuries this year, and would the Cardinals hesitate to draft Matt Barkley or Robert Griffin III if given a chance?  Should they pass on them?  

Last QB drafted: Skelton, 5th round, 2010.  The franchise, since its beginnings in 1941, has drafted 53 quarterbacks and they've combined for 10 Pro Bowls.  5 of those belong to Joe Namath, but he decided to go to the Jets in the AFL rather than the St. Louis Cardinals.  No QB that actually was drafted and played for the Cardinals has gone to more than two.  

How current QB was acquired: Trade with Philadelphia.

Signed through: 2015

 

30. Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks have elected to build a team around a quarterback before actually acquiring one as the quarterback of the future.  They've put a lot of draft picks and money into the offensive line and wide receivers, and now they can draft, trade, or sign one in the offseason that will be in a better situation than many other teams.  The problem is that they just don't have that guy right now.

Tarvaris Jackson has done okay during his first season in Seattle, but he was mostly just signed because of his experience with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell in Minnesota.  He has had some good games and some bad ones, shown some accuracy at times and no accuracy at others, but he does have a strong arm.  He's just not in the teams plans past 2012 as it appears.

Charlie Whitehurst was a waste of a draft pick and money and in limited time this season he looked about as bad as Blaine Gabbert, who at least has an excuse of being young and new to the NFL.  Whitehurst's days in Seattle are numbered.

Rookie undrafted free agent Josh Portis is very raw but showed some promise in the preseason.

Last QB drafted: Mike Teel, 7th round, 2009.  The last 1st round pick on a QB was Rick Mirer (2nd overall) in 1993, two years after taking QB Dan McGwire 16th overall.

How current QB was acquired: Free agency

Signed through: 2012

 

31. Miami Dolphins

Despite the fact that Matt Moore has thrown 3 TD/0 INT in two of his last three games, it would seem appropriate that the Dolphins draft a quarterback of the future in 2012.  Before Matt Moore came along and the Dolphins won three in a row, it should have been a downright fact.

Chad Henne and Moore would both make great backups to a young guy that this team could build around.  J.P. Losman and Pat Devlin are also on the roster.  (Devlin on the practice squad, Henne on IR.)

Last QB drafted: Pat White, 2nd round, 2009.  Last real QB drafted: Chad Henne, 2nd round, 2008.  The Dolphins also used a 2nd round pick on a QB in 2007, John Beck.  The last first round pick used on a QB for the Dolphins was Dan Marino, 27th overall, 1983.

How current QB was acquired: Free agency

Signed through: 2011

 

32. Washington Redskins

I was dumbfounded when I heard that the Redskins were actually going to have a training camp battle between Rex Grossman and John Beck as the starter.  They cut ties with McNabb (rightfully) and then replaced him with two guys that had very little potential to do any better than what he did last season.

Grossman won the battle, then lost it, then won it again, but in the end it was Redskins fans that truly lost.

With six straight losses, the Redskins are battling again, but this time for a higher draft pick.  They seem like the most likely team to draft a quarterback, if you consider the unknown situation in Indianapolis and what they'll do with the pick if and when they guarantee their slot.

The Redskins absolutely need to address their QB situation if they have any shot of getting back to their glory days.  Maybe they just really believe you can win with anybody at the position after they won titles with Mark Rypien and Doug Williams.  

Last QB drafted: Colt Brennan, 6th round, 2008.  1st round: Jason Campbell, 25th overall, 2005.  Right after Aaron Rodgers, the first QB on this list.

How current QB was acquired: Free agency that nobody but the Redskins came calling about.

Signed through: 2011?

 

Some breakdowns:

Starting QBs acquired in the draft: 19/32.  This does not take into account QBs that are currently injured.  It includes Peyton Manning.  It assumes the best case scenario of every roster.

Starting QBs acquired in free agency: 8/32.  This includes Tony Romo, who was an undrafted free agent.

Starting QBs acquired in trade: 5/32.

Starting QBs taken in the first round: 20/32.  Drew Brees, 1st pick of 2nd round, just missed.

Starting QBs taken in the second round: 3/32.

 

Top Salaries (In Millions)

Remember that the base salary does not include the most important part, the signing bonus.  Kerry Collins makes a base salary of $4 million versus a $3.4 million base salary of Peyton Manning.  But Manning has bonuses that make his average salary $18 million.  

Per spotrac.com

Mark Sanchez - $14.75

Michael Vick - $13

Matt Cassel - $12.25

Ben Roethlisberger - $11.6

Carson Palmer - $11.5

Matt Ryan - $11.25

Tony Romo - $9

Matthew Stafford - $9

Eli Manning - $8.5

Philip Rivers - $8.4

Jay Cutler - $7.6

Drew Brees - $7.4

Kyle Orton - $7.4

Aaron Rodgers - $7.25

Donovan McNabb - $7.25

Tom Brady - $5.75

Matt Schaub - $5.7

Alex Smith - $5

Jason Campbell - $4.5

Joe Flacco - $4.5

Charlie Whitehurst - $4

 

That is all for now.  I suppose this is when you tear me apart for my rankings, its easily the most dangerous way to piss people off.  I apologize if the criteria for this ranking was too ambiguous, but I am just trying to assess who is most comfortable at the most important position and who is least.  Who needs help the most.  I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I've enjoyed researching it.

Again, follow me on twitter @casetines

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