NFL free agent preview: The quarterbacks

Packer Report begins its free agent preview with a look at the quarterbacks. Matt Cassel, Kurt Warner and a bunch of reclamation projects highlight this group of free agents. While the Packers don't need a starter, they might be interested in a veteran to add to the mix.

Packer Report begins its position-by-position free agent preview with a look at the quarterbacks.

The Packers' needs:

With Aaron Rodgers entrenched as the starter, the only question is who will be his backups. The Packers were forced to play last season with rookies Brian Brohm and Matt Flynn because they couldn't release their second-round pick, Brohm, and their seventh-round pick, Flynn, was so impressive that they feared he wouldn't make it to the practice squad if he would have been released.

Brohm has this offseason to prove he's the 10,000-yard touchdown machine from Louisville and not the over-his-head rookie who struggled to throw even a spiral. If not, the Packers might be looking to add a veteran in July.

Big-ticket items:

— New England's Matt Cassel was given the franchise tag, and he and three-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady count almost $30 million against the salary cap. So, with Brady's knee apparently on the mend, it's safe to assume the Patriots will try to auction Cassel to the highest bidder. Could that be Minnesota, which proved it's not afraid to make a big move with last year's trade for Jared Allen for a first-round and two third-round picks?

But, buyer beware, warns senior analyst Ed Thompson.

"At this point, Cassel is a one-year wonder, and don't forget that at this time last year, lots of people were raving about Cleveland's Derek Anderson after his 2007 season, and he wasn't able to repeat that performance," Thompson said.

— Arizona's Kurt Warner went from over-the-hill to superstar in the span of one year. Seven years after his last 4,000-yard season, Warner finished second in the NFL with 4,583 yards and third with 30 touchdowns. He'll be 38 next season, but both sides want to work out a deal. If the frugal Cardinals are, well, frugal, then Warner's agent said Warner has an "open mind" about relocating.

A bit pricey:

Kerry Collins doesn't have a big-time arm anymore, but the Titans didn't post the NFL's best record by accident. He's perfect for a team with a strong supporting cast. You know, like the Titans.

Bargain shopping:

— Tampa Bay's Jeff Garcia, who turns 39 late this month, finally showed signs of age and won't be retained by the Bucs, even though they're more than $40 million under the cap. His 64.9 completion percentage was a career-high, but he has started 13 games just once in the last five seasons.

— The strong-armed Byron Leftwich helped the Steelers win two games when Ben Roethlisberger was injured. He wants to start again, and could be a short-term answer for a team that's buying time with a young quarterback.

Clearance rack:

Three former first-round draft picks plus the son of an NFL legend are available as reclamation projects.

— Once upon a time, J.P. Losman and Rex Grossman drew comparisons to Brett Favre for their talent, arm strength and panache. Losman might have landed in Green Bay in 2004 had the Bills not grabbed him one pick earlier. In five seasons, he has 33 touchdown passes and 34 interceptions. That's better than Grossman, who has 33 touchdowns and 35 interceptions in six seasons with Chicago. Neither will be re-signed. Of the two, Losman figures to garner the most attention.

Kyle Boller — like Grossman, a first-round pick in 2003 — might be worth a look. He had 45 touchdowns and 44 interceptions in his first five seasons before a shoulder injury kept him out of 2008 and opened the door for Joe Flacco.

— Meanwhile, Chris Simms — the son of Phil Simms and a third-round pick by Tampa Bay in 2004 — is available, though the Titans have expressed interest in bringing him back behind Collins and mystifying Vince Young. He famously ruptured his spleen suffered early in 2006, and he's thrown just two passes since.

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Lambeau Level forum.

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