It is no coincidence that three of the four teams left in the NFL playoffs have quarterbacks who were selected to the 2014 Pro Bowl. For the teams on the outside looking in, finding a quarterback capable of leading a team to the promised land may require an investment in the NFL Draft rather than signing a free agent.
Based on snap counts from the 2013 season, the top 2014 free-agent quarterbacks include Chad Henne of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Kellen Clemens of the St. Louis Rams, Matt Cassel of the Minnesota Vikings, Josh McCown of the Chicago Bears, Matt Flynn of the Green Bay Packers and Michael Vick of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Of those quarterbacks, only Vick and McCown have really show that they can lead their teams to anything above a modest amount of success. However, McCown is pondering retirement and Vick has only played a full 16-game season once in his career.
Among the best of the rest, Henne has said he would like to return to Jacksonville, where he will likely be in a fight for the starting job with the unimpressive Blaine Gabbert. The Vikings are likely to keep Cassel on to mentor whichever quarterback the team takes in the draft, as many expect the Vikings to release Christian Ponder who never really panned out as the starter.
Clemens showed flashes for the Rams, so they are looking to keep him, especially with starter Sam Bradford recovering from ACL surgery. Flynn has shown that he can only win with the Packers, who may just opt to re-sign him just to avoid last season’s quarterback calamity and have a familiar backup for Rodgers.
That only leaves players like Tavaris Jackson, Colt McCoy and Josh Freeman as the unrestricted free agents for teams to choose from in 2014. Now that is a paper thin class of free agents.
Teams looking for help at the most important position in professional sports are simply not going to find it among the quarterbacks available in the league. They are going to have to find it in the draft.