How the lockout has impacted 10 quarterback situations around NFL
The lockout is having a tremendous impact on quarterback situations around the NFL. Without free agency as an option before the draft, six teams took QBs in the first 37 picks. But even if a team did address that need in the draft, a prolonged work stoppage will greatly affect the way clubs approach next season.
If the lockout extends into late August, teams will have very little practice time to work with young QBs. And no one knows what the rules for free agency will be once an agreement is reached, so signing veterans may be more difficult.
Let's go around the league and look at the teams most affected by the lockout at the sport's most important position:
Arizona seems to have eyes for only one quarterback, Kevin Kolb. Eagles coach Andy Reid denied the teams put a deal in place the day after the draft when the lockout was temporarily lifted. If the lockout ends and the season is a couple weeks off, Philly could play hardball and complicate the possible trade. If that happened, perhaps the Cardinals would turn to another veteran they've been linked to in published reports, Marc Bulger.
With new coach Ron Rivera and rookie quarterback Cam Newton, the Panthers will need a lot of time to get on the same page. The silver lining if training camp is canceled? Expectations will be at an all-time low. No one will expect Newton to be able to run a pro-style offense efficiently right away.
Newton, however, might surprise people with how much he can learn during the lockout. The Heisman Trophy winner is reportedly working out with former NFL quarterbacks Chris Weinke and Ken Dorsey at the IMG Academy, and both are familiar with Carolina's offense. Even if Newton doesn't immediately master the pro passing game, he will be very effective scrambling when plays break down.
Carson Palmer announced he doesn't want to come back. The Bengals probably want to play rookie Andy Dalton this season. Some teams thought Dalton was the safest, most NFL-ready quarterback in the draft. Dalton has the maturity to step right in and be a leader. He does, however, need some time to work on the system. Otherwise, the Bengals could turn to Jordan Palmer, even though he's thrown just 15 passes in his three seasons (two of which were interceptions). Either way, the Bengals would be wise to re-sign Cedric Benson and try to focus on running the ball next season.
Considering Chad Henne tossed 15 TDs and 19 INTs last season, the Dolphins have to bring in some competition at quarterback. They opted not to draft one with the 15th pick in the first round. That makes sense, because head coach Tony Sparano needs to win this season to keep his job. Miami will likely consider the usual suspects -- Donovan McNabb, Kyle Orton, Vince Young or Marc Bulger. Or because of the lockout, they may have resigned themselves to sticking with Henne.
The Vikings reportedly gave free-agent quarterback Tarvaris Jackson's No. 7 to rookie Christian Ponder, so they probably won't have a proven veteran quarterback on the roster. They could pursue Donovan McNabb or Vince Young. But Ponder could be the most NFL-ready QB in the draft, even if he is just a game-manager at Florida State.
The Vikings are at their best when the quarterback is handing the ball to Adrian Peterson, throwing screens to Percy Harvin and lofting an occasional jump ball to Sidney Rice. Something tells me Minnesota coach Leslie Frasier wouldn't be that upset if he didn't have the chance to bring in a big-name free agent. All they need is a little time with Ponder, so you can bet Frasier is praying for a quick resolution to the labor impasse.
The market for Kevin Kolb likely has been hurt by the lockout, since teams opted to draft quarterbacks instead of exploring trade options. But the Arizona Cardinals are widely thought to be set on trading for the fifth-year veteran, even if they have to give up a first-round pick and a potential starter. If the lockout goes too long and complicates the Eagles' ability to finalize a deal -- or if they're asking for too much -- Kolb could possibly be stuck in Philadelphia.
But is that really such a bad thing? Michael Vick is an injury risk because of how much he runs. The Eagles could bring in a veteran like Vince Young. But they'd be better off with Kolb than any other backup because he knows Reid's system. Remember, this was supposed to be Kolb's team last season. If they do have time to complete a deal, however, first-rounders are gold in the NFL and the Eagles would have to jump on that kind of offer.
New head coach Jim Harbaugh and the organization seem to have settled on Alex Smith. But Smith is a free agent, and if things get crazy in a truncated preseason, who knows what will happen. You also have to wonder if the lockout is the reason Harbaugh didn't seriously consider alternatives to Smith, who lost his starting job midway through last season and regained it in the final month. The lockout should guarantee rookie Colin Kaepernick won't be ready to compete for the starting job before the season starts.
The Seahawks could re-sign Matt Hasselbeck, but they weren't able to complete a deal before the lockout. They also could have drafted a quarterback in the first round -- Dalton and Kaepernick were sitting there at No. 25. Instead, coach Pete Carroll may seriously explore free agency or a trade. The more time he has to do this before games start, the better off Seattle will be. Would Carroll rely on his college experience to fill this spot and turn to Matt Leinart? Or perhaps rely on a player who beat him in college, Vince Young (although V.Y. might not be a great fit in Seattle's West Coast system). Carson Palmer's name has been mentioned for the Seahawks as well, but the Bengals don't seem inclined to trade him.
Like the Panthers, the Titans have a new coaching staff and a rookie quarterback. They took Jake Locker at No. 8, even though most scouts think the former Washington Huskies quarterback will need time to develop. They'll likely go after a veteran free agent like Hasselbeck -- who has connections to former Seahawks and current Titans GM Mike Reinfeldt -- and their own free agent Kerry Collins is an option. If the league does lose training camp, at least Tennessee can sit Locker and let him learn without having to worry about pressure from fans to put him on the field.
Both John Beck and Rex Grossman have said they expect to be the Redskins starter. Never mind that Donovan McNabb is still on the roster. This is the kind of situation a coach would want a full offseason to sort out. Based on Mike Shanahan's pro-Beck comments earlier this offseason, the former BYU QB seems to be the front-runner. Beck hasn't gotten in a game since his rookie season in 2007.
The Redskins' decision to pass on taking a quarterback at No. 10 signifies they want to win now with Shanahan. If that's the case, both Beck and Grossman seem like a big risk. If they don't add a free agent to the mix, they could struggle and have a shot at drafting a quarterback in next year's draft ... like, let's say, Andrew Luck.