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 Vikings' situation and analyzing the top talent that could hit the free agent market and the chances they fit in with the Vikings.

The Vikings still haven't released veteran quarterback Brad Johnson. With him on the roster, the Vikings likely won't sign a free-agent quarterback.

Head coach Brad Childress said at his season-ending press conference that he would meet with Johnson, and if the 15-year veteran wanted his release, he'd get it. If Johnson wanted to stay in a mentor role behind Tarvaris Jackson and Brooks Bollinger, he could.

However, Johnson indicated after the season that he felt he could still compete for a starting job. That won't happen with the Vikings, but the fact that he wasn't given his immediate release could be a sign that the Vikings will look to see if they can garner any trade interest in him.

Johnson finished the season completing 61.4 percent of his passes for 2,738 yards, nine touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He was sacked 29 times and finished with a 71.9 passer rating.

Jackson started the last two games, completing 57.4 percent of his passes for 262 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions for a 62.5 rating. He is expected to enter training camp as the starter with competition from Bollinger.

Bollinger completed 72.2 percent of his passes for 146 yards, no touchdowns and one interception for a 72.9 rating.

Even if the Vikings do release Johnson, they aren't likely to look for a free agent who would come in and compete for the starting job … unless, of course, Childress is enamored with what Jeff Garcia did in Philadelphia.

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

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 Vikings' style of offense, but he still has to be considered a longshot unless Childress has a change of heart about allowing Jackson and Bollinger to compete for the starting gig.

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 is a longer longshot than Garcia to be a Viking.

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. There has been interest in him from other teams and he carries a valuable trade price tag.


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.

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.


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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