Free agency preview: Quarterback

The outlook, once again, isn’t good for teams searching for a starting quarterback in free agency. They are a valued commodity in the NFL and don’t get to market often. Still, there a few quarterbacks who might not be worth giving up on just yet as potential starters.

The quarterback class in free agency is predictably weak this year, as starters rarely make it to the open market. That’s the case once again in 2015. Former starters are on the list, but the vast majority of them were beaten down from the top line of the depth chart before their foray into free agency.

None of the quarterbacks in free agency earned five- or even four-star status, meaning no one likely to be a Pro Bowler or All-Pro (five stars) and no one that would be a starter for most teams (four star) is making it to market. Instead, the quarterback scrap heap includes three players given three-star status (could be a potential starter) and the rest are likely backups and roster-fringe quality.

Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans: He has started 23 games in his four seasons with the Titans but never seemed to fully establish himself. A shoulder injury and subsequent surgery brought his 2014 season to an early end in mid-December but Locker had only started five games prior to that anyway, completing 58.9 percent of his 145 passes with five touchdowns and seven interceptions. He has good athleticism for the position, but he has never completed more than 61 percent of his passes or thrown for 2,200 yards in a season.

Ryan Mallett, Houston Texans: Mallet is recovering from a torn pectoral muscle, which could further cloud his status among other teams that might be interested in him, but his best chance to get another shot at starting might be to re-sign with the Texans. After sitting the first half of the 2014 season, he emerged as the starter in Week 11, throwing for 211 yards, two touchdowns and one interception with a 95.3 rating against the Browns. However, his second start was a step backwards – throwing for 189 yards, no touchdowns and an interception – before injury ended his season. Prior to joining the Texans, he had thrown only one pass in three seasons with the Patriots as Tom Brady’s seldom-used backup. He has a rocket arm but little experience to say he can be a long-term starter. At this point, it’s all about projected potential.

Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia Eagles: After four seasons as the full-time starter with the New York Jets, Sanchez finally completed more than 60 percent of his passes in his first season with the Eagles, although he started only eight games. He also had a career-high 7.8 yards per pass and career-high 88.4 passer rating in Chip Kelly’s offense. He started the season on the bench but replaced Nick Foles at the midpoint. He put together a decent but inconsistent season, as the killer turnovers continued to haunt him.

Brian Hoyer, Cleveland Browns: After starting only four games in his previous six seasons, Hoyer finally got a starting chance with the Browns in 2014. In 13 starts, he threw for 3,326 yards, but had one more interception (13) than touchdowns (12) and completed only 55.3 percent of his passes for a pedestrian 76.5 passer rating. Hoyer is decent with the deep ball, but didn’t handle being pressured in the pocket well. With Johnny Manziel waiting in the wings, it remains to be seen if Hoyer re-signs with Cleveland or finds the fifth team of his career.

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Still to come: Running back | Wide receiver |
OFFENSE: Quarterback | Tight end | Offensive tackle | Offensive guard | Center
DEFENSE: Defensive tackle | Defensive end | Outside linebacker |
Inside linebacker | Safety | Cornerback


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