Future Free-Agent QBs: Looking Ahead

In the first in our series looking at the top players scheduled for free agency, we start with the quarterbacks, reviewing the Raiders' situation and analyzing the top talent that could hit the free agent market and the chances they fit in with Oakland.

The Oakland Raiders have a new ruler in town and he has yet to address the quarterback position. Aaron Brooks and Andrew Walter split the snaps over the season and both were disasters during their time at the helm.

Brooks said after the season that he believed he can still compete and that may be what new head coach Lane Kiffin will determine in the coming months.

Walter seems to be the odd man out.

Brooks ended the season completing 57.3 percent of his passes, tossing three touchdowns to eight interceptions. Walter completed 53.3 percent of his throws and added three touchdowns to 11 interceptions. Walter was also sacked 46 times.

Based on the play of last season, the Raiders offensive struggles were due in part to the play of the quarterback. Even if they choose a quarterback in the NFL Draft, a free agent option or two might be the way to go.

But this all comes down to Brooks and what to do with him. It is conceivable that they try and go smart, as they did with Rich Gannon years ago.


With that, here are the top quarterbacks scheduled to be free agents on March 2:

Matt Schaub, Atlanta Falcons – Schaub is scheduled to be a restricted free agent, and new Falcons head coach Bobby Petrino plans to stick with Michael Vick as the starter. The Falcons could tender Schaub an offer and look for at least one first-round draft pick as compensation from any team looking to grab him - or a high second if you are the Raiders. There has been interest in him from other teams and he carries a valuable trade price tag.

The Raiders would love to inquire about his services, especially with Greg Knapp now the offensive coordinator in Oakland. If anyone knows Shaub's strengths it would be Knapp. He is still young, has tremendous upside and could be a franchise signal caller.

Jeff Garcia, Philadelphia Eagles – Garcia helped save the Eagles' season in relief of an injured Donovan McNabb, helping the team to a 10-6 record and a birth in the playoffs. Garcia finished the season completing 116 of 188 passes (61.7 percent) with 10 touchdowns and two interceptions with a 95.2 rating. The situation in Philadelphia is an interesting one with McNabb reportedly feeling some of his teammates would rather see Garcia as the starter. While Garcia is expected to become a free agent and has said he would like to be a starter, he also has said he would like to stay in Philadelphia.

"I think one of the things I look at is, I just want to be treated fairly," Garcia told Dave Spadaro of PhiladelphiaEagles.com. "I just want to be respected and appreciated for my accomplishments on the field and what I bring as a person, and a leader and a motivator and just an attitude to this team, to this organization. If that can be appreciated, I have no problem with committing myself to Philadelphia, for not just one year but hopefully the rest of my career."

Coming from Philadelphia, Garcia would know the Raiders' style of offense, but he may be considered a longshot unless Kiffin decides Brooks is not an answer - even to bridge the gap to the next starter.

Damon Huard, Kansas City Chiefs – Like Garcia in Philly, Huard took over for an injured starter and played very well. Huard ended up throwing more passes and touchdowns than starter Trent Green, and threw fewer interceptions with a better passer rating. Huard ended the season completing 148 of 244 passes (60.7 percent) with 11 touchdowns and one interception for a 98.0 rating.

The Chiefs are expected to make a decision between Green or Huard as their starter and have 2006 draft pick Brodie Croyle as their backup. That means Huard could hit the free-agent market, but he'll likely command a starting spot somewhere with a formidable contract after his impressive performance. Huard may have a better shot than Garcia to land in Oakland because of his game management skills.

OTHER FREE AGENT QUARTERBACKS

Kerry Collins, Tennessee Titans – Once again, Collins had an unimpressive early showing in Tennessee, throwing one touchdown and six interceptions and finishing with a 42.3 rating before being supplanted as a starter by rookie Vince Young. His career could be over and he certainly won't be back in Oakland.

Cleo Lemon, Miami Dolphins – New Dolphins coach Cam Cameron knows all about Lemon from their days together in San Diego. In limited time with Miami last year, Lemon had the highest rating of the QBs with two TDs and one interception. Cameron likes his toughness and work ethic.

Tim Rattay, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Ratty won his first start of the season in late December, completing 16 of 26 for 212 yards and one interception. Considering the Bucs won only four games and Rattay, like Lemon in Miami, had the best rating on the team, the Bucs might want to consider re-signing him. He finished the season completing 61 of 101 passes (60.4 percent) with four TDs and two INTs for an 88.2 rating.

THE REST

Quinn Gray, Jacksonville Jaguars (restricted)
Doug Johnson, Cincinnati Bengals
John Navarre, Arizona Cardinals
Jim Sorgi, Indianapolis Colts (restricted)
Brian St. Pierre, Pittsburgh Steelers (restricted)
Marques Tuiasosopo, Oakland Raiders
Anthony Wright, Cincinnati Bengals


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