Peyton Manning is the top free agent quarterback this offseason - even if he isn't a free agent right now.
The 2012 NFL Free Agency period opens in eight days, and there are numerous teams, to include the Miami Dolphins, who will be looking for a quarterback this offseason. The problem is, there aren't a lot of top tier quarterbacks available. And, once the top two guys are gone, who, really, is left.
Here are my top 10 quarterbacks available in free agency this year, and where I think they may land.
1. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts. Peyton Manning is not a free agent....yet. The deadline for the Colts to make their decision - pay a quarterback coming off a missed season and four neck surgeries $28 million and draft the top quarterback prospect in the draft with the first overall pick, or release their 4-time league MVP in favor of the younger model - is coming up soon. As in, just three days away, soon. Indy cannot afford to keep Manning and Luck, so their decision really is simply when do they cut ties with Manning. Once they do, the feeding frenzy will start, since teams will not have to wait until March 13 to sign the future Hall of Fame quarterback. And, with the release of a cell phone video showing Manning throwing at Duke University this past week, the fervor for Manning will only get bigger. Possible Teams: Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals, Washington Redskins, Seattle Seahawks, New York Jets
2. Matt Flynn, Green Bay Packers. Matt Flynn is an unknown that's getting a lot of attention due to two starts in the NFL. Granted, on one of those starts, Flynn set the Packers' franchise record for passing yards and touchdow passes in a game - placing him ahead of Aaron Rodgers, Brett Favre, and Bart Starr. But, is Flynn a franchise quarterback being held back by Rodgers? Or, is he the next A.J. Feeley or Scott Mitchell, looking good in limited duty, but struggling when he is the man? The obvious connection right now is former Green Bay offensive coordinator, turned Miami head coach Joe Philbin, but the Dolphins are expected to make a strong run at Manning, meaning Flynn may be looking elsewhere for a job. Possible Teams: Cleveland Browns, Seattle Seahawks, Miami Dolphins
3. Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers franchise tagged Dashon Goldson on Friday, meaning Alex Smith will hit the free agent market if a long term deal is not completed by March 13. However, head coach Jim Harbaugh has said, Smith is the 49ers guy. I do not see any reason to not believe the 49ers will bring Smith back. Possible Teams: San Francisco 49ers.
4. Chad Henne, Miami Dolphins: The Chad Henne era in Miami was defined by mediocrity, but that won't stop some team from giving him a chance this offseason. Henne marks the steep drop off from the top two potential free agents to the rest of the pack, but he is probably the top of that group. Although Dolphins fans will ridicule any team that lands Henne, especially if they bring him in to be a starter, but Henne does have potential to correct his shortcomings with the change in scenery. The most rumored landing spot for him right now is with the New York Jets, reuniting him with former Miami head coach Tony Sparano, now the Jets offensive coordinator, and competing with Mark Sanchez for the starting position. Personally, I think that would be a horrible move for Henne, who needs to get away from Sparano's offense, and go somewhere else, but it's very probable he lands with the Jets. Otherwise, look for a team with a young quarterback who wants to bring in a veteran with starting experience. Potential Teams: New York Jets, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs
5. Kyle Orton, Kansas City Chiefs. Kyle Orton had an interesting season last year. First he was nearly traded to the Dolphins, then he was named the Denver Broncos starter. Then he lost his job to Tim Tebow, and finally was traded out of Denver to the Chiefs. With the Chiefs, Orton served as the starter after the team lost Matt Cassel to injury. Now, Orton will once again be looking for a job. He's a solid starter, but is not going to pick a team up and carry it. If he is your starter, your team is bidding it's time until they can upgrade. Potential Teams: Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redksins, Jacksonville Jaguars
6. Jason Campbell, Oakland Raiders. Campbell could be a starter somewhere in the league. He's never going to be a dominating quarterback, but he has the potential to manage a game to a win. He had the Raiders at 4-2 last season before being injured, only to have the Raiders trade for Carson Palmer as his replacement. He could very easily return as Palmer's backup this year, but could move on as well. ESPN New York has stated that Jets' offensive coordinator Tony Sparano is thought to be adding elements of the Raiders offense to his schemes, and could be looking to bring in Campbell to push Mark Sanchez. Potential Teams: Oakland Raiders, New York Jets
7. Rex Grossman, Washington Redskins. Grossman continually finds a starting job in the NFL. He's been to a Super Bowl, and has started 47 games in his 9 year career. He was 5-8 last year in Washington, throwing for 3,151 yards and 16 touchdowns, with 20 interceptions. He's never going to excite a fan base, but as a spot starter, veteran backup, he could have a role with a team. Potential Teams: Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers, Buffalo Bills
8. Shaun Hill, Detroit Lions. A team in need of a veteran backup will look to Shaun Hill. He's not special, but he's a game manager, and doesn't make mistakes. He's got a 39 to 23 touchdown to interception ratio in his career, and will help some team win a game or two next year. Look for a team with a need at the second string position to make a push for Hill. Potential Teams: Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings
9. Vince Young, Philadelphia Eagles. Now we're getting down even lower. Young's highlight of the year last year may have been his declaration that the Eagles were a "Dream Team." Young went 1-2 as a starter when Michael Vick was injured, throwing for 866 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Now, add in his 9 interceptions, and it was a really bad performance by Young. He will find a job somewhere as a backup, but his starting days are probably behind him. And, at least we can rule out a backup role with the St. Louis Rams. Potential Teams: Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks
10. David Garrard, Free Agent. Garrard missed all of last season with a back injury. Now, he could be looking to come back to a team. Last year, it was thought that Garrard was only interested in going to a team where he would be the starter. Now, a year later, that's not going to happen. He probably could be a guy who pushes a starter, and competes, but he's not going to be handed the keys to the franchise, especially given his age (34). He would be higher on this list if he had been in the league last year, but sitting out a year won't do him any favors (despite Manning having sat out a year as well). Potential Teams: New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers