Wednesday February 16th, 2005

6. Brad Johnson: The 36-year-old Johnson will either be a great backup or a decent short-term answer after Tampa Bay releases him in the next couple of weeks. After 13 years in the league, a team isn't going to get any surprises with Johnson. In the Bucs' 2002 Super Bowl run, Johnson displayed what he could do best -- accurate short-to-mid-range passing, smart decisions and leadership. The most obvious fit appears to be Arizona, since coach Dennis Green is comfortable with Johnson, his former QB in Minnesota.

7. Rich Gannon: Gannon may never be able to return from the neck/vertebrae injury that sidelined him last season, and if he does, he won't be a Raider because of the $8 million he's due this season. The general consensus is the 39-year-old QB should hang up the cleats, but Gannon has made a career of defying expectations. He didn't become a regular starter until he was 34 and he earned an MVP at age 35. Gannon might figure he hasn't had the normal wear and tear of a QB his age and give it another shot. Expect lots of talk about Gannon reuniting with Gruden in Tampa Bay, although the Bucs haven't said anything to imply that might happen.

8. Jay Fiedler: The 33-year-old Fiedler will be released by the Dolphins before March 1 and will get plenty of attention as a backup. He won't draw any interest as a potential starter, since there is little upside for a QB like Fiedler. He's a smart veteran who can win when he's not the focal point of the offense. Don't read too much into the problems the Dolphins had this season. Fiedler, who started seven games in '04, was behind one of the worst lines in the NFL and had no running game to distract defenses.

9. Kordell Stewart: If you can't even get on the field when Kyle Boller is your team's starting QB, you have issues. Stewart hasn't had a Slash-like season since 2001, and at 32, he no longer merits consideration as a potential starter. He did, however, show signs of his old self in the preseason with the Ravens last year and there's at least a chance he's got a comeback somewhere in him. And he could easily beat everyone on this list in a foot race.

10. Vinny Testaverde: Vinny started out OK in 2004 before running out of steam as the Cowboys' season unraveled. Dallas hasn't seriously pursued re-signing the unrestricted free agent, and Testaverde hasn't given any indications he's going to retire. There seems to be a perfect fit out there for the 41-year-old: the New York Jets. Coach Herman Edwards was comfortable with him as a backup behind Chad Pennington up until last season, and they need veteran help because of the seriousness of Pennington's shoulder injury.

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