There have been two points of view on this topic this past season and early in the offseason. One group says that Jake Delhomme will have trouble rehabbing his elbow after Tommy John surgery and that his passes lacked some zip even before he went on the injured reserve. The other group tells us that Jake is doing well, will recover quite nicely and will be back next year connecting with Steve Smith regularly.
But only if we knew what the future holds. It sure would make us wiser and a heck of a lot richer! But, alas, we don’t. And that’s why we feel it necessary to not only profile each of the free agent quarterbacks here but for the team to look long and hard at the position this offseason.
QB, Derek Anderson, Cleveland Browns : I’m including Anderson in this list for a reason. He’s the first, and likely the last restricted free agent I spend much time talking about. But, Anderson came from nowhere last season and had a breakout year. (3787 yards, 29 TD’s, 19 ints.) The real reason to include him is the fervor with which fans of nearly every NFL team not quarterbacked by a Brady or a Manning are calling for their franchise to trade for him. The biggest problem with this, of course, is that the Browns will not be letting him go. First of all, Anderson is a restricted free agent and may be given the franchise tag. Further, he played well enough last year to put pressure on the Browns to work overtime to get a deal done. A new three-year deal is already on the table making me believe that Anderson is staying put in the “Mistake by the Lake.”
QB, Rex Grossman, Chicago Bears : Before typing this latest entry I questioned myself on including Grossman. I mean, is there a more reviled former or current starting quarterback in the NFL? Maybe a lot of the vitriol from Bears fans is warranted considering that Grossman has been the absolute picture of inconsistency. His ’07 season was cut short by injuries (well, sort of, since he would have probably lost the starting job anyway) and was punctuated with some pretty bad stats. (1411 yards, 4 TD’s, 7 ints.) Yet many fans have overlooked the fact that it was Grossman who played a big role in getting the Bears to Super Bowl LXI. The team is saying they would like to keep him which makes sense because quarterbacks with starting experience are valuable as backups. But just how anxious is Rex to stay in Chicago to sit on the bench and hold a clipboard? Not likely. He’ll almost certainly be available and may draw some interest but don’t look for anybody to beat down his door begging him to come start for them.
QB, Daunte Culpepper, Oakland Raiders : How far can a guy fall? After the 2004 season, Culpepper was getting his name mentioned in the same breath with Peyton Manning’s name (and in a good way). Then came the injury in ’05, a disastrous move to Miami for a year and this past season spent in Oakland. He’s gone from a guy who had been quoted as saying the game had slowed down so much for him that he felt like a Jedi Knight to a player nobody wants. His low point came last season when Daunte challenged a teammate to a footrace in practice only to re-injure his knee. I can’t see how the Raiders want to keep Culpepper around but I’m not sure anybody else will want him as a starter. If he’s willing to sign with a team looking for a veteran backup, he’ll be employed.
QB, Josh McCown, Oakland Raiders : I may be sounding like a broken record because this does make the second straight Raiders QB mentioned. McCown had a decent season in ’04 with Arizona. But that’s been followed up with a season in Detroit and one in Oakland. It seems that former Cardinals’ coach Dennis Green was high on McCown but really nobody else was, at least not in Detroit or Oakland. He found the bench with the Raiders when he was replaced by Culpepper and eventually rookie JaMarcus Russell and has stayed there. He’ll be another backup prospect if he is allowed to leave the Bay Area as expected.
QB, Quinn Gray, Jacksonville Jaguars : Now known as David Garrard’s backup rather than the third-stringer, Gray has played fairly well when called upon having started four games last year while appearing in eight. (986 yards, 10 TD’s, 5 ints.) But he’s not considered a starter in league circles. The odds are very good that Gray remains in Jacksonville as the backup.
For a complete list of available quarterbacks see our Free Agents Page.
Simply put, this year’s crop of free agent quarterbacks leaves much to be desired. There are no bonafide starters in the bunch considering that Derek Anderson will almost definitely be staying put in Cleveland.
That brings us to the bottom line: The Carolina Panthers options are limited if they are looking to add another signal caller to the roster unless they take a shot at one in the draft. Some believe they will due to the injury to Jake Delhomme. But I truly believe that the team will enter training camp this summer with Delhomme, Matt Moore and Brett Basanez. The only addition I can see being made at the position would be a mid to late round pick in the draft.
Tomorrow, we’ll be changing our focus to the defense, specifically to the defensive linemen due to become free agents.