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Free Agency Outlook: Quarterbacks

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- With Peyton Manning, Brock Osweiler and Zac Dysert on hand, no position is less likely to be targeted by the Broncos in free agency than quarterback.

That's good for Denver, because  there is no position more bereft of game-changing talent on the free-agent market than quarterback. The talent pool was kiddie-pool shallow even before the Jaguars re-signed Chad Henne and the Vikings brought back Matt Cassel on two-year deals.

In each case, the contracts appear more about giving their teams the flexibility to not take a quarterback in the draft -- setting themselves up to take advantage of a player unexpectedly falling or a potential trade back for more picks -- or to give a young quarterback more time to develop.


Josh McCown, Chicago: Once Jay Cutler got his long-term contract, McCown appeared destined for the market. He has indicated that he wants to remain with the Bears, but the reality is that a quarterback who finished extended work with a 109.0 rating and a 13-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio should get a chance to at least compete for a starting job elsewhere. As with the Vikings and Jaguars, the team that signs McCown likely frees itself from the pressure of selecting a quarterback in the draft. The question then becomes whether McCown can come close to replicating the production he had in the quarterback-friendly offense installed by Bears head coach Marc Trestman last year.

Josh Freeman, Minnesota: After being cut by Tampa Bay and struggling in his only start with the Vikings, the 2009 first-round pick is in dire need of a career reset. A strong arm, relative youth (he turned 26 in January) and flirtation with greatness in what appeared to be a breakthrough 2010 season ensures he will get another shot. But will it be as a backup or as part of an open competition? That answer might be months in the making.

Michael Vick, Philadelphia: Nick Foles was so prolific that it was easy to forget that Vick made a solid acquittal of himself early in the season as Chip Kelly's first NFL starting quarterback. His declining completion percentage in recent years is a concern, but he's still agile in the open field, and even at 34, his run threat must be taken seriously. But his style doesn't lend itself to durability, and he has not played a full 16-game season since his return from a two-year incarceration.

Matt Flynn, Green Bay: After hopscotching from Seattle to Oakland and Buffalo with little success, Flynn returned to a Packers side in desperate straits, having shoved Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzien into the lineup with little success. Flynn stepped in on Nov. 24 with the Packers trailing 23-7 in the fourth quarter to the Vikings, and led them to a tie, snapping a three-game skid. The Packers went 2-2 in the four starts that followed and averaged 26.4 points per 60 minutes with Flynn at the controls. The Packers and Flynn seem perfect together; in that offense, he's adept enough to ensure the Packers tread water.

Shaun Hill, Detroit: Hill has been a quality backup behind Matthew Stafford, but it appears as though the Lions are going to look elsewhere. The 34-year-old Hill is the ideal reserve: experienced, composed and effective. He has a career 41-to-23 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a quarterback rating of 85.9. It's hard to imagine him not being someone's No. 2.

Kellen Clemens, St. Louis: Clemens was average and unspectacular as replacement for the injured Sam Bradford last year. He could return to the Rams, since they know what they're getting with him, and he knows their system. But after re-committing themselves to Bradford, the Rams might want to upgrade their backup situation, since Bradford has missed 16 games in the last three seasons.

Tarvaris Jackson, Seattle: He seems to have settled in as the Seahawks' reserve behind Russell Wilson, and his mobility and arm strength make him an ideal backup to Wilson, even though he isn't as accurate.

OTHERS: Derek Anderson, Carolina; Jimmy Clausen, Carolina; David Garrard, N.Y. Jets; Rex Grossman, Washington; Jon Kitna, Dallas; Luke McCown, New Orleans; Colt McCoy, San Francisco; Dan Orlovsky, Tampa Bay; Curtis Painter, N.Y. Giants; Jordan Palmer, Chicago; Brady Quinn, St. Louis; Rusty Smith, Tennessee; Seneca Wallace, Green Bay; Charlie Whitehurst, San Diego.

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