1) Kurt Warner/Arizona Cardinals
Possible Suitors: Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings
It would seem like there's no way that Arizona wouldn't want to re-sign Warner based on the fact they've made it to the Super Bowl with him behind center. And once you look at his statistics, it's even harder to imagine him not in a Cardinal uniform next season. But league sources indicate that both sides are way off on agreeing to a deal, so it's not out of the question that the team uses their franchise tag on the 37-year old gunslinger. While the franchise tag carries a price tag of over $14 million, Arizona can probably afford it since they have over $40 million of available cap space as of late this week.
Chicago QB Kyle Orton played quite well before the ankle injury he suffered in a Week 9 game against the Detroit Lions. However, he was never the same after that and may have come back from the injury too soon. Since it appears he won't be getting a lucrative extension any time soon, the team could look for a short-term upgrade like Warner since they're not that far off from being a solid playoff contender.
Minnesota still is trying to figure out who their starting quarterback will be next season. While Kurt Warner doesn't have a lot of experience playing in the West Coast offense, the veteran signal caller is probably is smart enough to pick that scheme up. And if the team is desperate for a short-term upgrade for the next few seasons, it's not out of the question that they at least consider Warner. However, a league source said Minnesota had about $18 million in projected salary cap space available for 2009 and they have various needs on both sides of the ball.
Most Likely Destination: Arizona Cardinals. They simply have no choice here. League sources don't believe they have any confidence in Matt Leinart to come in and bring any stability to the position. And keep in mind this coaching staff wasn't there when Leinart was drafted.
2) Donovan McNabb/Philadelphia Eagles
Possible Suitors: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
McNabb hails from the Chicago area and at 32 (turns 33 in November), still probably has at least two to four solid years left in him. When is the last time Chicago seemed to have their quarterback position solved?
Detroit, like Chicago, hasn't had stability at the quarterback position for some time and McNabb could bring them a solid starting option for a while longer. But they may opt to select a quarterback with their first-round pick who will come in and play right away.
It's not a secret that Minnesota head coach Brad Childress and McNabb talk to each other still via the phone every so often. Minnesota runs the same West Coast scheme so McNabb could come in and play right away without a stiff learning curve.
According to a veteran salary cap consultant, McNabb's cap number for 2009 is around $10.4 million, but the proration on his deal ends after 2009. If they decided to release him (won't happen) or trade him, they would actually save a little over $8 million in salary cap space--not that they need it. Another league source told Scout.com that Philadelphia has at least $31 million in salary cap space available for 2009 and possibly more. Apparently, there are two players that had bonus money tied up in their contracts (possibly likely to be earned incentives that weren't met) totaling around $16-$17 million that could be added to that robust cap space availability (it's not known if the $31 million number already includes the $16-$17 cap credits carried over from last season).
McNabb's contract also has a 35 percent playing time in any season clause that will enable him to void the final three years of the deal. So he's able to opt out after the 2010 season (his deal expires after 2013).
Taking in to account the information listed above, we can certainly see why McNabb wants to meet with Philadelphia's management soon. And with all this, they have former second-round pick Kevin Kolb who enters 2009 on the third year of his four-year deal.
Finally, looking at Tampa Bay, they simply have no direction at the quarterback position and McNabb could start for a while until a younger signal caller is groomed to take over.
Most Likely Destination: Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, Tampa Bay
In the end, Philadelphia will either trade him or will wind up adjusting his contract in a way that's fair to both sides.
3) Matt Cassel/New England Patriots
Possible Suitors: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Chicago simply hasn't been able to secure the quarterback position in many years and a solid player like Cassel, who offers plenty of upside and youth, could fit in well. The problem is they haven't invested much in the position and may not want to pay what it takes financially to get him.
As for Detroit, they must figure out who the future is at the quarterback position and it seems that former second-round pick, Drew Stanton, isn't it. So a player like Cassel, who is coming off of a big season, could be the starter there for years to come.
As for Kansas City, there's another team that has to make a decision on their future at quarterback. That position could be solved if new head czar Scott Pioli decides to acquire Cassel--a player who he knows quite well.
Minnesota simply needs to settle on one quarterback and let that guy do his thing. By bringing in Cassel, who is coming off of a great season, there would be no more mystery or uncertainty.
New England has a tough choice to make. If they place their franchise tag on Cassel, it will cost them $14.651 million in guaranteed base salary for 2009 (once a player signs the franchise tender, the money us guaranteed). And if Cassel is brought back under the franchise tag, they would be tying up about $29.28 million in salary cap space with two quarterbacks (Tom Brady being the other player and who carries a $14.63 million cap number).
Most Likely Destination: Either Cassel has the franchise tag placed on him or New England will trade him to Chicago, Detroit, Kansas City, Minnesota, or Tampa Bay.
4) Derek Anderson/Cleveland Browns
Possible Suitors: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
As Scout.com first reported several months ago, Anderson has a $5 million roster bonus due in mid-March and based on his play in 2008, look for the team to trade Anderson before it's due. Anderson has a salary cap value of almost $9 million for 2009, which is way too much cap space to tie up on a quarterback who is projected to be a backup.
Chicago makes some sense based on the vertical passing game that they'd like to develop.
Detroit still has veteran Jon Kitna under contract for 2009, but he turns 37 this September and clearly isn't the future at the quarterback position for the team. A league source indicates that he's also due a $500,000 roster bonus soon. And another veteran who appears on the downside of his career, Daunte Culpepper, carries a $5 million cap number (includes a $2.5 million roster bonus).
Kansas City has a huge decision coming up. Do they go with a quarterback with their first-round pick or do they look for a veteran with a stronger arm than Tyler Thigpen to take over the job?
It's not a secret that Minnesota, more like head coach Brad Childress, is still not totally sold on Tarvaris Jackson. If Childress was content with Jackson as his starter, he could have made that clear--that hasn't happened. So Anderson could be the veteran that they chose to bring in to upgrade the position. However, whether he can play in a West Coast system remains to be seen.
Tampa Bay clearly has no idea who the their future at quarterback is and they only have veteran Brian Griese and Josh Johnson under contract. But as noted above, Anderson hasn't played in the West Coast offense at the pro level yet and new offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski has a strong background in that system.
Most Likely Destination: Detroit, Minnesota, or Tampa Bay.
5) Kerry Collins/Tennessee Titans
Possible Suitors: Chicago Bears, Tennessee Titans
Chicago badly needs a capable veteran who could push Kyle Orton for the starting job and Collins, if he doesn't reach an agreement to re-sign with the Titans, could be that player.
Offensive coordinator Ron Turner prefers a deep passing game and Collins still has a very strong arm, so interest here wouldn't be a major surprise.
Most Likely Destination: Tennessee. The coaching staff has wanted him back as the starter for a while and Collins want to keep that job, so look for both sides to reach an agreement prior to the start of free agency.
6) Jeff Garcia/Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Possible Suitors: Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With head coach Jon Gruden out of Tampa Bay, the team may finally try to develop a quarterback who could start for years to come. So Garcia, who turns 39 later this month, may have to play elsewhere if he wants to continue his career.
Minnesota, a league source told Scout.com, will bring in at least one quarterback for the 2009 season, and possibly two who could challenge Tarvaris Jackson for the starting job. Garcia could be one of their choices since he's played his entire career in the West Coast offense.
Most Likely Destination: Backup, wherever he winds up. Garcia's play dropped off this season and his best role, at this point in his career, is backing up.