2012 Offseason Quarterback Predictions
Updated March 7, 2012
Follow me @walterfootball
It's another offseason, which means a number of teams will be searching for quarterbacks. Here are my predictions for how each quarterback-needy team will address the position this spring, in 2012 NFL Draft order (excluding the obvious Colts):
Cleveland Browns: Sign Matt Flynn
Everyone expects the Dolphins to sign Matt Flynn, and they very well could. Of course, Miami could agree to terms with Peyton Manning. And if they don't, what if they're too focused on courting Manning while Flynn is looking for a new home? And what if Joe Philbin doesn't even want Flynn as his quarterback?
If the Dolphins are set on pursuing Manning, Flynn could easily sign with the Browns. Mike Holmgren would love to bring in Flynn to run his West Coast offense. The Packer signal-caller is perfect for Holmgren's system.
Washington Redskins: Trade for Robert Griffin
I had Peyton Manning going to the Redskins in my previous update. Washington remains a strong possibility because of its cap room, but Manning may not want to play for someone like Daniel Snyder. The fact that he would have to battle his brother twice a year doesn't help matters.
If the Redskins swing and miss on Manning, there's no question that they'll become the favorites to trade up for Robert Griffin. Snyder will do everything in his power to secure a blue-chip quarterback prospect, and unlike the Browns, he won't be scared to part with a draft pick that could be relatively inconsequential in the long run.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Sign Josh Johnson
Josh Johnson has been linked to the 49ers because of the Jim Harbaugh connection. I believe Jacksonville is the favorite to sign the athletic, high-upside quarterback, however.
Greg Olson, the offensive coordinator for the Buccaneers last year, was recently hired to be the quarterbacks' coach for the Jaguars. Both Olson and Johnson love working with each other, and Olson will push for general manager Gene Smith to sign Josh Freeman's backup.
Olson will understandably want his own guy to compete with Blaine Gabbert. Gabbert showed no signs of becoming a legitimate starting quarterback in this league last year, so Jacksonville will need a fallback option just in case he doesn't improve.
Miami Dolphins: Draft Ryan Tannehill
I already discussed Flynn to Miami. He could reunite with his former coach, but the Dolphins seem set on pursuing Manning.
I don't think it'll be Manning. It very well could be, but there are two reasons why I think No. 18 will play elsewhere. First, Stephen Ross is the same as Daniel Snyder. He's an overzealous owner who will have trouble maintaining (or ever achieving) success because he does stupid things. Snyder signs old, washed-up players; Ross is more interested in surrounding himself with B-list celebrities and presenting the Dolphins as a show rather than a football team. Why would Manning want to play for Ross?
Second, Manning will have to battle Tom Brady twice per year as a member of the Dolphins. It'll be difficult for him to reach the playoffs under those circumstances.
As for Robert Griffin, I doubt the Rams would want to miss out on Justin Blackmon by moving down to No. 8. Jacksonville won't hesitate to snatch the Oklahoma State wideout off the board.
So, if Miami can't net Manning, Flynn or Griffin, it'll have to settle for Ryan Tannehill. Ross' B-list celebrity friends won't be too happy about that.
Kansas City Chiefs: Sign Chad Henne
The Chiefs aren't really in a position to do anything with the quarterback position this offseason. Scott Pioli will give Matt Cassel another year, as his options are very limited right now.
I do think Kansas City will sign Chad Henne to be a solid backup in the event of another Cassel injury. Brian Daboll, the team's current offensive coordinator, worked with Henne when the two were in Miami.
Seattle Seahawks: Draft QB on Day 2
Pete Carroll recently stated that Tarvaris Jackson will be the starting quarterback in 2012. But that doesn't mean that he won't spend a second-day pick on a quarterback.
But which one? Most of the prospects are in play. Ryan Tannehill is very talented, but Seattle will have to move up for him in the back end of the first round to get him. Carroll still has Pac-10/12 ties, so he will likely have inside information on Brock Osweiler and Nick Foles. Brandon Weeden had a great Senior Bowl week, so he's certainly an option in Round 2.
The current favorite is Kirk Cousins. He comes from a pro-style offense, and the Seahawks have shown interest in him. USC and Seahawks beat writer Scott Enyeart tweeted, "(Pete) Carroll has been evaluating Kirk Cousins since this summer at the Elite 11 camp in Malibu, where Kirk was a counselor."
Arizona Cardinals: Sign Peyton Manning
There are five reasons why I think the Cardinals are the favorites to sign Peyton Manning:
1. Larry Fitzgerald. Manning and Fitzgerald are friends, and the two of them have met during the offseason, presumably to talk about playing with each other. Manning has to love the prospect of airing it out to Fitzgerald every week.
2. Cap room. Arizona has about $22 million available, so it can sign Reggie Wayne (and perhaps Dallas Clark and Dwight Freeney if they're cut). Manning and Wayne come as a package, and the Cardinals could use a No. 2 receiver.
3. NFC West. Manning gets to avoid Tom Brady and his brother. Even better, he'll be part of a division that was won by Alex Smith last year.
4. Dome. All of the teams on this page, save for the Cardinals, play outdoors. Manning has enjoyed having a roof over his head for all of his home games throughout his career. Why change now?
5. Proven success. The Cardinals reached the Super Bowl with Kurt Warner. The coaching staff knows how to handle a veteran, Hall of Fame-bound quarterback. Manning might have this in mind when he's making this difficult decision.
New York Jets: Sign Jason Campbell
The Jets need some competition for Mark Sanchez. They've been linked to Jason Campbell for good reason. If Sanchez starts throwing multiple interceptions to 320-pound defensive linemen again, Rex Ryan will want to insert a quarterback with some experience. Campbell's not a great quarterback by any means, but he's solid enough to play the role of a game manager on a talented team.
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