Lower Profile Acquisitions and Trades Still Worth Noting
The second of a two part series on the many quarterback moves so far this off-season, in this one I'll address the lower profile moves (or non-moves) made by signal callers.
Old Team: Kansas City Chiefs
New Team: Minnesota Vikings
Analysis: Credit Cassel with wasting no time. He was released by the Chiefs on March 14 and his signing with the Vikings happened later the same day. Some thought Cassel was brought in to compete with Christian Ponder, but the Vikings say there is no controversy and that Ponder is their guy. Credit Minnesota also for getting a Ponder-like clone (weak armed, questionable pocket presence and decision making) finally as a backup QB to him. They were without an adequate backup and Cassel would step in and be a lot like Ponder if needed: mediocre. There's even a slim chance that if Ponder continues to underwhelm as the starter, Cassel could step in. What we've earned about Cassel the last few seasons in K.C. is that he is inconsistent, sometimes looking good; more often looking horrible. But at least he's more competent than what the Vikings had.
Old Team: Indianapolis Colts
New Team: Arizona Cardinals
Analysis: Until the Cardinals acquired Carson Palmer, it looked like Stanton was finally going to get a legitimate chance to compete for a starting job for the first time in his career. Stanton is an unknown commodity as he has been in the league since 2008 and has made only 4 starts. He wasn't impressive in any of them, but he didn't look horrible either. Stanton has a strong arm and knows the new offensive system Bruce Arians is bringing to Arizona as he was with Arians in Indianapolis last season. While clearly Palmer will be the starter, if he gets injured playing behind a below average offensive line, Stanton could end up starting games for the Cardinals. I get the sneaky feeling that is exactly what is going to happen in 2013 and I am curious to see what type of QB Stanton really is.
Old Team: New Orleans Saints
New Team: Kansas City Chiefs
Analysis: There's always been optimism about Daniel, but since coming into the league in 2009 he's been behind Drew Brees and has only attempted 9 regular season passes. On the plus side he did complete 7 of them. Daniel is shorter than ideal at 6'0" tall, but he has been well-regarded despite that. The Chiefs signed him to a 3 year deal and gave him nearly $5 million guaranteed to be Alex Smith's backup. It's a fairly shrewd move by new Chiefs head coach Andy Reid as Smith has yet to prove himself as being a top flight starting QB. In Reid's west coast system, Daniel could shine if the opportunity arose. I like the fit of player and scheme here and while I doubt if Daniel gets opportunities in 2013, but if Smith isn't impressive this season, it won't be a surprise if Daniel gets a chance in 2014. There's some deep bench dynasty league fantasy football sleeper value here.
Old Team: Buffalo Bills
New Team: Tennessee Titans
Analysis: After being proven to be a mediocre starting QB in Buffalo the last 3 seasons, Fitzpatrick replaces Matt Hasselbeck as a veteran presence behind Jake Locker. Fitzpatrick is a lot like Locker, except for arm strength. Locker has a strong arm whereas Fitzpatrick's is below average. The Titans are beginning to question whether Locker is truly their QB f the future and needed to upgrade the backup position after Hasselbeck showed his age in 2012. Fitzpatrick can't be considered as a legitimate contender if Locker fails to step up his game in 2013, but at least he is a serviceable backup with a lot of starting experience if needed. It's just that he, as stated before, has proven to be mediocre.
Old Team: Arizona Cardinals
New Team: Cincinnati Bengals
Analysis: I don't know what to think of Skelton. I liked his potential to develop into a quality QB at the NFL level and he even looked impressive at times starting for the Cardinals over the last 3 seasons. But accuracy has been an issue and even though he is supposed to have a strong arm, I watched him throw a "Hail Mary" pass that failed to go 50 yards in the air in 2012. So questions about that have to be included. I think in Cincinnati, he should easily beat out Josh Johnson to be the backup to Andy Dalton. Skelton is kind of like the like the anti-Dalton though. Dalton is accurate; his passes show touch, is a strong leader, but has just average arm strength (which is why Dalton struggles late in the season when the weather gets cold in Cincinnati). Skelton is strong armed, inaccurate, rifles too many passes and leadership is questionable. It's an intriguing fit though and I'll be curious to see if can improve his play in Cincinnati if the opportunity arises.
Old Team: Cincinnati Bengals
New Team: Pittsburgh Steelers
Analysis: Gradkowski signed a 3 year deal with Pittsburgh replaces both Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch as the new backup to Ben Roethlisberger. Since being drafted by Tampa Bay in 2006, Gradkowski has started 20 games for the Bucs, Browns, and Raiders. But the last two seasons he's been the veteran presence behind Andy Dalton in Cincinnati and has only attempted 29 passes in that role. Gradkowski lacks a strong arm, and owns only a 52.9 career completion percentage. He won't threaten Roethlisberger's ownership of the starting job, but at least he should prove to be a better fallback option than either Leftwich or Batch has been the last few seasons behind him.
Old Team: Tennessee Titans
New Team: Indianapolis Colts
Analysis: Hasselbeck will be 38 years old in September and showed aging arm strength in 2012. Now, he gets to be the veteran backup mentor Andrew Luck didn't have as a rookie in 2012. It didn't look like Luck really needed one, but at least if he has any questions, he has someone who is entering his 15th NFL season and has started 152 regular season games. While 2 years and nearly $8 million is a lot to give a backup QB, the Colts did a smart thing by bringing in someone with a lot of experience to be Luck's sounding board. They just need to hope Hasselbeck doesn't have to play much as his skills aren't what they used to be.
Old Team: Baltimore Ravens
New Team: Philadelphia Eagles
Analysis: I like Dixon and am glad he may finally get a legitimate chance to compete. He is a very intriguing prospect in Philadelphia with new head coach Chip Kelly bringing the Oregon offensive style that Dixon excelled in as the Ducks QB in 2007. Dixon spent last season on the Ravens practice squad after 3 seasons in Pittsburgh where he flashed ability, but wasn't a fit for a traditional style offense and thusly he didn't get on the field much. Dixon joins a crowded Eagles QB situation where Michael Vick is the likely starter, and second year QB Nick Foles also has a chance to compete for the top backup job. At least that's the way things look right now as of this writing as there had been reports of Foles potentially being traded in the past months as he isn't a good system fit in the new offense. If that were to happen, Dixon would be one Mike Vick injury away from getting a chance. And personally, I'd be interested to see how he would do.
Old Team: Washington Redskins
New Team: Washington Redskins
Analysis: Grossman drew no interest from NFL teams the first couple of weeks of free agency. So he did the smartest thing he could do: sign a one year contract to remain with Washington as veteran insurance in case anything happens that prevents Robert Griffin III in his recovery from ACL surgery being ready to start the regular season. Not that Grossman would get the call to start; that would go to Kirk Cousins, but Grossman at least knows the offense, and the Redskins are comfortable with him as their #3 QB. There's a chance Grossman might not make the final roster as the Redskins also signed Pat White (who has been out of the NFL since 2009 because of concussion issues). But I doubt if White is a legitimate candidate to make the final roster barring injuries helping his cause. After receiving little interest in this year's free agent market, there's a 50/50 chance 2013 will be Grossman's last in the NFL.
Old Team: Cleveland Browns
New Team: San Francisco 49ers
Analysis: Acquired from Cleveland, along with a 2013 6th round pick, in exchange for 5th and 7th round picks this year, McCoy steps in and is the favorite to win the backup QB spot behind Colin Kaepernick. McCoy was miscast as a starter because of below average arm strength, but he has moxie and intangibles that make him an excellent choice as a backup. He might even fit well in the 49ers hybrid type of offense if called upon because of a Kaepernick injury. I thought this was a smart acquisition as a replacement for Alex Smith as it was low risk, medium reward, and reasonably priced.
Old Team: Kansas City Chiefs
New Team: Seattle Seahawks
Analysis: I really wish Quinn was a better quarterback. His post-game press conference the day after the Jovan Belcher tragedy elevated my respect for him as a good man. But while I can pray all I like for Quinn to succeed, the reality is that he is a poor NFL quarterback. And the Seahawks had better hope they don't have to start him. Quinn has always impressed in practices and workouts, but it has never transferred into games. His average arm, poor decision making, and hesitancy to throw the ball down the field are nothing like Russell Wilson in terms of QB style. Maybe things will be different in Seattle than they were in Cleveland, Denver, and Kansas City, but I wouldn't bet on it. I will hope for it though.