2006 NFL Free Agents: Quarterback
By: Thomas J Gersey
1. Drew Brees, San Diego
After a shaky introduction to the NFL, Brees has become one of the pre-eminant passers in the league. Brees is the prototypical pocket passer, with excellent touch and an above average arm. Couple with that his ability to move outside the pocket and throw on the run, and there are few throws Brees can't make. He doesn't have the hose to get the ball down the field, but he can make the throws to the outside that must be made in today's NFL. Brees is not a superior athlete, but he maximizes the talents he does possess. WIthin 20 yards, he is deadly accurate, but his ball tends to sail as he attempts deeper throws. Brees is smart and adaptable, and has grown into his role as a leader. He can lead the Chargers, or any other talented team, to the Super Bowl, and will soon get a contract that demonstrates so.
GOOD FITS: Dallas, Miami, NY Jets, Oakland
EARLY PICK: The Chargers will not franchise Brees and it is now unlikely he will return to San Diego. Expect Brees, a Texas native, to get a lot of attention from the Cowboys, who seem to have soured on Drew Henson as the quarterback of the future. Miami has a huge hole at quarterback, and the Dolphins may be attractive to Brees, who will likely want to play for another up and coming team.
2. Jon Kitna, Cincinnati
Once looked at as future star in Seattle, Kitna developed into a more than adequate starting quarterback in Cincinnati, even putting together an MVP quality season two years ago. When Carson Palmer became a super star, Kitna suddenly become expendable. However, following Palmer's knee injury in the play offs, Kitna suddenly became indispensable. 33 years old, Kitna is not the long term solution anywhere, but he is more than capable of holding down the fort while another young quarterback develops. Kitna is a very good leader, and players rally around him. He throws a very good deep ball, letting the receiver run under it. His decision making has developed into above average, though he could still improve on recognition in the pocket. He is slightly slow of foot, and is more confortable between the tackles, exposing him on a team with a below average line.
GOOD FITS: NY Jets, Cincinnati, New Orleans, Houston, Detroit
EARLY PICK: It really depends on what Kitna wants, and how badly the Bengals want to bring him back. It is likely they will want to keep him as a security blanket for Palmer, who has suddenly become a question mark. Teams like New Orleans, Houston, and the Jets, all plan on playing young quarterbacks this up coming season, but quarterbacks who will be on a short leash. If Kitna is ok being a back up with a good chance of stepping in, any of those franchises may be a good fit.
3. Jeff Garcia, Detroit
At 35, Garcia's days as a premier starting quarterback appear to be behind him. However, in this free agent class, he still possesses enough skills to be a valuable backup. He is a former Pro Bowl calibur QB with a career 60% completion percentage. He has a quick release, and picks up the blitz well, making him valuable to a young team with an inexperienced line. He is still mobile, despite his age and injuries, though isn't the threat to scramble he once was. He is best suited to a team that relies on the short passing game, as his deep throws lack range and accuracy. While Kitna is a likely backup with starter ability, Garcia will be best suited backing up a young quarterback, where he will only be called on in an emergency. He is the consummate professional who can play at a high level in a pinch.
GOOD FITS: Minnesota, Philadelphia, Detroit, Houston, Oakland, San Francisco, NY Giants, New Orleans, Buffalo
EARLY PICK: In all honesty, where Garcia goes is anyone's guess right now. Once the QB carousel stops, Garcia will know where he fits in alot better. It is possible Detroit will bring him back for another year, though the Lions are likely to want to distance themselves from everything related to the past two seasons. A place like Philadelphia or New York makes alot of sense, where a veteran backup like Garcia could really keep either team in the playoff hunt were the starter to be injured. Teams like Houston, Oakland, SF, and NO would look to Garcia as an insurance policy for their young signal callers.
4. Josh McCown, Arizona
With the recent signing of Kurt Warner for three years, it appears that Josh McCown's status as the future of the Cardinals has come to an abrupt end. Physically, McCown is very gifted. He is big, with a strong pocket presence; yet he is also very mobile for a man his size. He can throw on the run effectively, and is able to make the tough throws to the outside. He has developed the confidence to be a leader in the huddle, though at 26 he is still developing those skills. He often relies too much on his physical gifts, instead attempting to bail himself out with athletic plays. When it doesn't work, he is apt to make costly mistakes at the most inopportune times. He would be a perfect fit for a team looking to groom a new starter behind an established veteran nearing the end of their career.
GOOD FITS: Kansas City, NY Jets, Miami, Dallas, Minnesota, Tennessee
EARLY PICK: McCown isn't the commodity he was a year ago, but he is still a gifted quarterback whom someone will take a chance on. He would be an absolute perfect fit in Kansas City where Trent Green is showing signs of slowing down. Green's backup is Todd Collins who McCown is already 10 times better than. Teams like the Jets or Dallas would bring him in to compete with similarly talented players, while Minnesota could groom him for the following season behind Brad Johnson were Culpepper to be traded.
5. Chris Simms, Tampa Bay (RFA)
Only this low because he is restricted, and Tampa can match any offer. However, it really appeared as if Simms finally started to "get it" last season. A top prospect since he was in high school, he has never lived up to the hype that always acoompanied him. A real "timing QB," once Simms gets into a rhythm, he can carry a team for multiple quarters. If a defense can rattle him, he is prone to bad throws, as he is apt to not see defenders and throw costly picks. He throws a very nice deep ball, with a tight spiral, that fast receivers can easily run under. He is still working on his accuracy underneath, and he doesn't have tremendous zip on the ball either, though he does display nice touch. His is big, with excellent mechanics, and at age 25, appears to have a future as a franchise quarterback.
GOOD FITS: Oakland, Miami, Dallas, Kansas City
EARLY PICK: It doesn't appear that Tampa is going to let Simms get away, and will match any offer, even though it means having two starting quarterbacks (Brian Griese is also under contract). However, if a team were to break the bank on his potential, Tampa may simply be unable to afford him, and will happily turn to Griese and Cadillac Williams to lead the offense. A team like Oakland, with nothing to lose, may be willing to spend that kind of money, though it's not likely.
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