QB Shuffle Looming?

With the June 1 phase of free agency, where teams lop huge salaries to acquire more cap space, looming next Tuesday, a quarterback carousel is being pondered by more than a few NFL observers.

In the NFL, quarterback is seen as the most vital position. If you have a top-notch QB, no game is out of the realm of possibility to win. Have a pedestrian quarterback and likely your team will suffer more than it celebrates.

However, the value of the quarterback has taken a hit in recent years. With a player like Tom Brady, taken deep in the second day of the draft when he came out of Michigan, to Jake Delhomme -- a career backup -- leading their teams to the Super Bowl, having a franchise QB has taken on a different meaning.

So it is that VU has heard from conspiracy theorists about an anticipated quarterback shuffle involving two former Vikings QBs and a coach. The story has it like this: the Raiders sign Kerry Collins and, after June 1, release Rich Gannon. Gannon is then signed by the Bucs, reuniting with Jon Gruden. The Bucs then release Brad Johnson, who signs on with Baltimore, reuniting with Brian Billick.

All the while two-time MVP Kurt Warner remains unsigned and apparently unwanted. The situation shouldn't come as any surprise. The Jaguars gave Mark Brunell a gold watch and shipped him off to the Redskins. The Rams are poised to release Warner. Kordell Stewart hasn't found a new home. Jeff Garcia was simply released by the 49ers and signed by the Browns -- leaving most to think Tim Couch will also be on the open market.

The movement of veteran quarterbacks is as active as its ever been and, despite teams like the Ravens, 49ers and Cardinals needing a solid veteran that can win games if called upon, all seem willing to go with unproven talents in hopes of building for the future.

Just about every team in the NFL has a young QB they're either starting or grooming and it could make veterans like Gannon and Johnson candidates for the axe -- just a sign of the new economics of the NFL.

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