by Russ Bliss (2/21/12)

The 2012 NFL Free Agents Quarterbacks list is top heavy because of Drew Brees. The list does include some good QB's, but other than Brees, no really strong QB's. Matt Flynn is brimming with potential, if he goes to the right system. Kyle Orton is good, but not an exciting QB. Same with Alex Smith. Jason Campbell, Vince Young, Chad Henne, and David Garrard are all serviceable, but none are more than stop gap types who are more likely to land as backups than given a legitimate chance to compete for a starting job. After them, it becomes a mish-mash of mediocrity at best.

1) Drew Brees: There's not much to say about Brees as he is amongst the elite QB's in the NFL. He is a lock to place in the top 3 on 2012 fantasy football rankings for the position as he has proven to be the most prolific fantasy QB over the last several years. While anything is possible in free agency, it's just really hard to imagine the Saints not getting a new deal done with Brees before too long. I don't see him going anywhere.

2) Matt Flynn: When you think of Green Bay Packers QB's and record holders, Flynn isn't the first to come to mind, but he holds the record for most passing yards and most passing TD's in a single game thanks to Aaron Rodgers sitting out the final week of the regular season in 2011. But is Flynn really a "can't miss" free agent prospect who will place highly on 2012 fantasy football cheat sheets? I don't think so. Flynn lacks experience as a starter and doesn't possess a rifle arm. But he's a smart QB who works well within the west coast offensive system. With former Packers OC Joe Philbin now the head coach in Miami, the Dolphins make a lot of sense as a landing spot for Flynn. The Cleveland Browns are also a team that runs a west coast system that fit him. A dark horse candidate would be the Washington Redskins.

3) Kyle Orton: Orton has proven himself as a decent enough QB, but he doesn't strike you as a QB who inspires his teammates or has the ability to put a team on his shoulders and make the game winning drive. He goes thru ups and downs and his downs are brutally bad. Miami tried to get Orton last year from Denver and if they lose out on potential free agent Peyton Manning and Flynn, they could turn to Orton as an alternative to Matt Moore. Washington could also be an intriguing place if the Redskins don't get Manning or Flynn either. Minnesota and Seattle could be lesser talked about places where Orton could fit. The New York Jets say they are committed to Mark Sanchez, but they have also said they want to bring in some competition for him and Orton could do just that.

4) Alex Smith: Last year was a "prove it" year for Smith and while he certainly didn't light the league on fire, he performed well enough in the 49ers offense by throwing the fewest interceptions of any QB while leading them to the NFC Championship game. It's questionable though whether any teams would consider Smith to be a viable solution to their QB problems. A contract with the 49ers seems the most likely scenario and I expect a reasonable contract will be worked out with them. And who knows? If the 49ers get some better weapons for him to throw the ball to, he could take another step up in fantasy football projections in 2012.

5) Jason Campbell: I don't think I've waffled on another player as much as I have Campbell in recent years. When he was drafted I thought he was going to be a bust, but early in his career he showed just enough to make me think he could be a legitimate NFL and fantasy football starting QB. But he's never put it together and time has run out. No longer considered sure starter material in the NFL, Campbell is likely to find himself sought after as a backup or as a guy to compete with another team's mediocre starter. Any of the aforementioned teams could be interested in him but another place that sounds like it could be a nice fit would be Indianapolis. Assuming Peyton Manning gets released, Campbell could provide beatable competition for Andrew Luck (whom I expect the Colts to take 1st overall) while at the same time being a capable enough backup to step in should Luck flounder.

6) Vince Young: Young is physically gifted and has shown a knack for winning, but he is a head case who has more cold streaks than hot. Leadership and accuracy aren't his strong suits and you just wonder whether he is willing to put in the effort to be as good as he could be. Someone will bring him in, but whether he's given a legit chance to start is really debatable. A real interesting fit for him would be Seattle. Tarvaris Jackson looked a lot better in 2011 than he was expected to and Young is a better QB than Jackson. Plus there's the Pete Carroll/Rose Bowl connection that would have a twist of irony.

7) Chad Henne: I once thought highly of Henne but he's after showing promise early in his career, he's steadily regressed into mediocrity. He has shown flashes of being a legit NFL QB, but he needs a fresh start and will not have a long leash if he's brought in to be a starter (which I doubt). Minnesota and Indianapolis both seem like logical fits for him as do the Jets.

8) David Garrard: After sitting out 2011 season because of back surgery, Garrard will get a chance to return to the NFL in a backup capacity. Garrard has plenty of experience and has at times looked like a good NFL QB, but he's also never taken the step up from being better than mediocre to becoming a good QB. While any of the teams mentioned before could be places for him, another team I suspect will have interest will be the St. Louis Rams. Jeff Fisher knows Garrard from their time in the AFC South and could use an upgrade at backup QB to Sam Bradford.

see the 2012 NFL Free Agents List