The quarterback market hasn’t seen loads of action in NFL free agency but it has seen some interesting moves. Which players in new places have the best chance to succeed?
Blaine Gabbert – San Francisco 49ers
Scouts were infatuated with the amount of things Blaine Gabbert could do coming out of Missouri. He has every conceivable physical tool including the arm and mobility to make plays anywhere and everywhere. Unfortunately he came out of college without the preferred amount of experience and then was asked to start by a Jacksonville Jaguars team that didn’t have the talent or the coaching staff to support his development. So, almost inevitably, he crashed and burned, eventually getting replaced by Chad Henne. Still, Gabbert is young and hasn’t lost any of his physical ability. There is a chance that in the right hands he can realize some of the potential the Jaguars saw in him when they took him 10th overall in 2011. If anybody in NFL free agency was qualified to do so, it’s Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers. The man who molded Andrew Luck, rescued Alex Smith and developed Colin Kaepernick has the résumé to warrant his team trading for Gabbert. What they have planned form him considering they already have Kaepernick in place is up for debate.
Brandon Weeden – Dallas Cowboys
Sometimes it isn’t talent or desire that stands in the way of a player, it’s Father Time. That particular hound was on Brandon Weeden from the moment he was drafted at the age of 28. Now set to turn 31 in October he is hoping a deal with the Dallas Cowboys can salvage his career that stumbled so terribly with the Cleveland Browns. The problem is he’s in an awful position. Not only is the age starting to creep up on his, but he also doesn’t have the development or experience to warrant a battle for a starting job. His chances of supplanting Kyle Orton as the backup will be hard enough, let alone eventually replacing Tony Romo. Jason Garrett has had success developing quarterbacks but Weeden just doesn’t have the time on his side to learn and then parlay that experience into interesting teams to give him a shot down the road. At best he can hope for a shot at the backup job. With a little (or lot) luck he might have one more chance in the future.
Josh McCown – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
One person who can give Weeden hope is Josh McCown. A journeyman backup most of his career, McCown finally landed in a favorable position learning under quarterback-savvy head coach Marc Trestman in Chicago. Playing in relief of Jay Cutler, he posted career highs with over 1,800 passing yards 14 touchdowns and just two turnovers. The performance caught the attention of several teams, giving his stock in NFL free agency a huge boost and eventually culminating in a two-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to be their short-term starter. McCown showed in Chicago that he is mobile, smart, good in the huddle and very accurate with his passes when he’s protected. Tampa Bay has a decent offense in place with a chance to get a lot better in the draft. Of the three notable quarterbacks to find new homes so far, McCown could have the most immediate success.