2005 free agency: Quarterbacks

What to do at quarterback in 2005? The 49ers certainly have some decisions to make about that one. One of the options for upgrading the position is to take a stab at one of the established veterans who will be available in upcoming free agency, whether it be a franchise-type QB such as Drew Brees who immediately will become the starter or a veteran who will come in and compete with holdovers Tim Rattay, Ken Dorsey and Cody Pickett for the starting job.

Rattay, Dorsey and Pickett all are under contract for the 2005 season and - because of a variety of circumstances - the 49ers weren't able to get a complete evaluation of either last season.

It's possible the team will stand pat with those three this season to see how they do in a new scheme and, ostensibly, better players around them, but it's just as likely the team will bring in another player to compete at the position.

That player, however, could come from the draft, whether the 49ers use the overall No. 1 selection on a top prospect such as Cal's Aaron Rodgers or Utah's Alex Smith or wait a little while longer to bring in a less-heralded prospect with one of their other first-day picks in April.

The possibility of going the free agent route would be greater if there were more quality available this year on the open market. But that does not appear to be the case.

There are a few quarterbacks scheduled to be unrestricted free agents, however, who could immediately become the franchise's guiding light at QB, while also allowing the 49ers to concentrate on other areas with their draft picks.

San Diego's Drew Brees and Seattle's Matt Hasselbeck are two such players, and both top the list of available free agents.

Brees is expected to be franchised, despite the high cost of keeping him along with 2004 top draft pick Phillip Rivers.

Hasselbeck is another matter entirely, as the Seahawks have a long list of free agents they want to keep, including OT Walter Jones and RB Shaun Alexander. Franchising Hasselbeck is still an option for the Seahawks, but that would be a difficult decision.

After those two, attention turns to veteran backups who want starting opportunities such as Cleveland's Kelly Holcomb, Detroit's Mike McMahon and Minnesota's Gus Frerotte or the New York Jets' Quincy Carter. None of them would offer much of an upgrade to what the 49ers already have at the position.

Here's a look at quarterbacks scheduled to become free agents on March 1.

Unrestricted Free Agents

Brock Huard Seattle Seahawks
29-year-old QB spent last season on IR with a back injury.
Charlie Batch Pittsburgh Steelers
Missed the season with a knee injury. May return as backup.
Damon Huard Kansas City Chiefs
Former Patriot was KC's #3 QB this season. No regular season snaps.
Doug Johnson Tennessee Titans
Titans third-stringer saw limited action. May be headed to the Jets.
Doug Pederson Green Bay Packers
Coming back from injury, may stick with Pack if Favre stays.
Drew Brees San Diego Chargers
Comeback kid expected to get the franchise tag.
Gus Frerotte Minnesota Vikings
Could join ex-OC Scott Linehan in Miami. Threw one pass in 2004.
Jamie Martin St. Louis Rams
Ex-Brown would have to battle Jeff Smoker for the Rams #2 QB job
Jason Garrett Miami Dolphins
38-year-old likely to retire. No regular season appearances in three years.
Jeff Blake Philadelphia Eagles
Veteran QB could find himself a backup role.
Jeff George Chicago Bears
Mercurial QB still getting mothball scent off him in Chicago
Jesse Palmer New York Giants
Didn't appear in 2004. Wants to stay in NY, but Giants will look at options.
Jim Miller New England Patriots
Busy pretending to be Donovan McNabb at the moment
Kelly Holcomb Cleveland Browns
Possible starter for Browns if they can keep him
Kordell Stewart Baltimore Ravens
Worked with new Ravens QB coach Neuheisel in college. Shot at #3 job.
Matt Hasselbeck Seattle Seahawks
Coming up: a tough franchise tag call for the Seahawks
Mike McMahon Detroit Lions
Browns were interested last off-season. Wants a shot at starting...
Quincy Carter New York Jets
Not likely to return to New York. Wants a shot at starting...
Rick Mirer Detroit Lions
Not expected to return to the Lions. Was #3 QB in 2004.
Sage Rosenfels Miami Dolphins
Part of a trio that threw 26 interceptions in 2004.
Shane Matthews Buffalo Bills
Bills would like to see him return as a veteran backup
Todd Collins Kansas City Chiefs
Vet backup, with seven seasons of keeping clipboard off the ground in KC
Tony Banks Houston Texans
Tired of backing up Carr, wants to shop around for a starting job
Ty Detmer Atlanta Falcons
Return trip to Cleveland about as likely as Superlotto win
Vinny Testaverde Dallas Cowboys
See entry directly above...

Restricted Free Agents

Only one restricted free agent (Rodney Bailey) changed teams during the 2004 off-season.

Craig Nall Green Bay Packers
J.T. O'Sullivan  Green Bay Packers
Josh McCown Arizona Cardinals

Niners Digest Top Stories