Six more veteran QBs whose names could come up once lockout ends
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As the reality of labor gridlock first sunk in, there was talk in NFL circles about the possibility of circumventing the transaction freeze on draft weekend by adopting a tactic used in the NBA for years: Team A would select one player, with a verbal agreement to send that player to Team B for another player (or players) once the trade is allowed.
That talk has died down in recent weeks, NFL sources said this week, in part because many executives were uncomfortable about the prospect of another team backing out of a nonbinding pact. More important, a flood of such transactions immediately upon the beginning of a new league year surely would set off red flags in the league office, which recently sent a memo to all teams reminding them of punishment for violating terms of the lockout.
"Any undisclosed agreement is a violation of league rules," league spokesman Greg Aiello said in an e-mail on Thursday.
That means any deals involving several quarterbacks on the trading block -- including the most talked-about such player, Philadelphia's Kevin Kolb -- would have to be consummated after the lockout ends, with compensation made up of other veteran players or draft picks in 2012 and beyond.
Here are six other names that have come up in a series of recent discussions with NFL sources about options available to teams such as the Minnesota Vikings, who might need to secure a veteran stopgap whether they find their quarterback of the future or not in the draft that begins on April 28.
Experience: 11th year.
Last season: Did not take a snap as Joe Flacco's backup in Baltimore.
Status: Unrestricted free agent.
The skinny: A sixth-round pick in 2000, Bulger (6-foot-3, 208 pounds) threw for 22,814 yards and 122 touchdowns in nine seasons with the St. Louis Rams, making the Pro Bowl in 2003 and '06. But injuries and a declining roster contributed to a downturn in Bulger's production, and his passer rating was 71.4 or worse in his final three seasons as a starter (2007 to '09). He'd likely jump at the chance to compete for a starting job again, but it's unclear if there will be any takers.
One NFL scout's take: "A year off of a starting lineup, a chance to rest his body, he didn't take the hits that he did in St. Louis. He'd be the kind of player that if you did sign him, you'd let come in and compete for the starter's role. I don't think he's the long-term answer, but he can be the type of guy who's got veteran starting experience that could hold the spot for a short period of time until you can find the long-term solution."
Experience: 4th year.
Last season: Played in seven games for the Green Bay Packers and made his first career start at New England. Completed 40 of 66 passes (60.6%) for 433 yards with three touchdowns, two interceptions and an 82.4 passer rating.
Status: Signed through 2011 with a scheduled base salary of $555,000.
The skinny: A seventh-round pick in 2007, Flynn (6-2, 225) beat out second-rounder Brian Brohm as Aaron Rodgers' top backup and has held the No. 2 job ever since. The Packers have said they don't intend to trade Flynn and are not pushing him out in the trade market, according to NFL sources. Even if that changes, the odds of the Packers dealing him within the division are slim or none.
One scout's take: "For a guy that's a real strong Christian and all that, you love Flynn's attitude -- like, 'whatever.' He doesn't care about all that (outside) stuff. He felt he should have played more (at LSU) than JaMarcus Russell, who was the number one pick."
Experience: 13th year.
Last season: Started 14 games for the Seattle Seahawks, completing 59.9% of his passes for 12 touchdowns, 17 interceptions and a 73.2 rating. Had his best game in an NFC wild-card playoff win over New Orleans and also was productive late in the division round at Chicago, throwing seven combined touchdowns.
Status: Unrestricted free agent.
The skinny: A sixth-round pick in 1998, Hasselbeck (6-4, 225) was traded to Seattle two years later and has been the starter there ever since. Made three Pro Bowls from 2003 to '07 and led the Seahawks to Super Bowl XL. Has missed 13 games with injuries over the past three seasons, during which his passer rating has been 75.1 or worse. Turned down a multiyear contract from Seattle before the lockout began and most likely will sign elsewhere.
Experience: 13th year.
Last season: Started 13 games for the Washington Redskins, completing 58.3% of his passes for 3,377 yards and 14 touchdowns with 15 interceptions and a career-low 77.1 passer rating. Benched the final three games in favor of Rex Grossman, only weeks after signing a new six-year, $89.2 million contract.
Status: Signed through 2015, with a $10 million option bonus due around Week 1 of the 2011 season on top of $2.5 million in base salary and per-game roster bonuses.
The skinny: The No. 2 overall pick in 1999, McNabb (6-2, 240) played his first 11 seasons in Philadelphia before the Redskins acquired him for a second-round pick and a conditional pick last April. All indications are Washington coach Mike Shanahan is ready to move on, and McNabb's contract doesn't help his trade value. So, the smart money is on the Redskins cutting McNabb, who has a relationship with Vikings coach Leslie Frazier and could be a fallback option on an incentive-laden deal.
One NFL scout's take: "The Hasselbecks and the McNabbs of the world -- maybe they can be short-term solutions until you find long-term answers, guys that can hold down the starter's role until you find the long-term solution. Simply by age, by production and by injuries, it's fair to say Hasselbeck and McNabb, they're more short-term solutions."
Experience: 7th year.
Last season: Started 13 games for the Denver Broncos, completing 58.8% of his passes for 3,653 yards and 20 touchdowns with nine interceptions and an 87.5 rating. At one point was on pace to challenge the NFL record for single-season passing yards. Ended up benched the final three games in favor of first-round draft pick Tim Tebow.
Status: Due $7.739 million in base salary plus a $1.5 million roster bonus in 2011, the last of a two-year, $11.621 million deal he signed in August.
The skinny: A fourth-round pick in 2005, Orton (6-4, 225) was in and out of the lineup for four seasons in Chicago before Denver acquired him in the Jay Cutler trade in April 2009. He's started all but four games over two seasons with the Broncos, but his role with the franchise is unclear, particularly with public pressure to play Tebow and new football boss John Elway thoroughly examining alternatives in the draft.
One NFL scout's take: "He's got a strong arm, pocket passer. He's not very mobile, but he does have good accuracy, has been productive when given his chance and opportunity. Not a guy that's going to necessarily raise the bar of the talent around him. You've got to kind of surround him with some talent. Won't be a Pro Bowler, but if I had to qualify him -- average-level starter, middle-of-the-pack NFL starter."
Experience: 9th year.
Last season: Started all 16 for the Cincinnati Bengals, completing 61.8% of his passes for 3,970 yards with 26 touchdowns, 20 interceptions and an 82.4 rating.
Status: Has four years remaining on the six-year, $118.75 million extension he signed in December 2005 but has demanded a trade and said he'll retire rather than play for the Bengals again.
The skinny: The No. 1 overall pick in 2003, Palmer (6-5, 236) has been an ironman the past seven seasons with the exception of 2008, when he missed 12 games because of an elbow injury he chose to address with rest instead of Tommy John surgery. He also had ACL reconstruction after the 2005 season, his best as a pro. Palmer hasn't finished with better than an 86.7 passer rating since 2006 and is widely viewed as a declining player. The Bengals have said they won't honor his trade request, and even if that changes, Minnesota seems an unlikely destination.
One player who never came up when discussing the Vikings' options was Vince Young, the former No. 3 overall pick, two-time Pro Bowl selection and 2006 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
The 27-year-old is due a $4.25 million roster bonus on top of $8.5 million in base salary in 2011, the final year of his original rookie deal. So, the Tennessee Titans -- who have said Young won't play another game for them -- most likely will end up releasing him.
His former quarterbacks coach, Craig Johnson, joined Frazier's staff in January and spoke highly of Young in an interview shortly after. But Young's history of immature behavior on and off the field makes him a major gamble, particularly for a team trying to develop another young quarterback.
Two other names one league executive threw out: former No. 1 overall pick Alex Smith and Tarvaris Jackson, whom the Vikings non-tendered as a potential restricted free agent.
The inclusion of those players on a list of plausible stopgap options speaks to the importance of finding a permanent solution sooner than later at the most important position.