In an ongoing series, the Monk will bring you the possible free agents in every position. Today’s installment is possibly the most talked about and most crucial position on the field: Quarterback.
Free agency kicks off March 5, and this year’s version will be completely different. With the pending un-capped year, teams and fans must get used to new rules. The first is that a player can only become an unrestricted free agent if he has six years of service, not four years as was the case under the CBA. This affects around 200 players. Those 200 players will now be restricted free agents and their teams can sign them to one year deals at proscribed levels. Those levels have corresponding compensation if another team wants to sign them.
The second is the Final Eight Rule. The Final Eight Rule restricts the eight teams in the divisional round of the playoffs from signing free agents. Basically, the four teams that advanced to the conference championship games (Jets, Vikings, Colts, and Saints) can only sign a free agent if they lose one with a comparable salary. The four teams that lost in the divisional round (Ravens, Cardinals, Cowboys and Chargers) can replace a player with a comparable salary and also sign one free agent with a first-year salary of $5 million or more. But those teams can further sign unlimited players with a first-year salary of up to $3 million.
Of course, all of this goes away if the league and the union sign a new CBA by March 5.
As my Mom always said: Don’t hold your horses.
With these new rules in place, the Browns may not be major players in the free agent market. The list of available Quarterbacks should provide an example why:
Unrestricted Free Agents:
Rex Grossman (the only one on this list with a Super Bowl appearance)
Jake Plummer (funny, cause he said he was retired…)
Brian St. Pierre
Need I say more? The Browns may take a look at Pennington or Batch, but consider this list a Browns Fans Commit Mass-Suicide news story if the Browns sign any of the others on this list.
By contrast, the Restricted Free Agents are more tempting:
Restricted Free Agents:
Just kidding. Still, if Holmgren is not in the building, don’t all of us think that Mangini gets Clemons? That said, a trade may be the best bet here.
Matt Moore (Exclusive Rights Free Agent)
Moore looked good against the Vikings, Giants and the Brees-less Saints at the end of the year, but the Pathers are likely to keep him. Moore can’t leave the Panthers if they offer him a three year veteran minimum salary, so trade is how one would acquire Moore.
Jason Campbell (RFA)
Campbell is intriguing and allegedly not wanted in Washington. Campbell has improved his completion percentage each year in the league and threw for 3,000 + yards with a crappy offensive line. But some, mainly Clinton Portis question his leadership abilities, and some (mainly me) wonder if the 80+ sacks he has taken has given him David Carr syndrome. As a restricted free agent, it may be cheaper to the Browns to trade for Campbell.
Seneca Wallace – Seattle
The connection? Holmgren brought him to Seattle, where he is backup to Matt Hasselbeck. But there is no indication that Wallace could be an effective starting Quarterback in the NFL. I say no thanks.
Troy Smith – Baltimore
Smith sparked interest in Cleveland when he requested a trade from the Ravens. The connection is obvious: Smith is from Cleveland and played at Ohio State. Smith played well in spot duty and preseason, but lost the starting job two years ago because of an illness. Smith deserves a chance to start and I see this being a great move by the Browns if made. I expect the price for Smith is higher for the Browns than for other teams in the NFL.
Matt Flynn – Green Bay
Holmgren likes backups (see Favre and Hasselbeck), and Flynn has potential. I will leave the scouting to the scouts, but I think the Browns may consider Flynn if they are not satisfied with the draft prospects.
The Philadelphia QB’s
It is highly, highly, unlikely that Philly will trade one of its QB’s before the draft. That said, it does not look like McNabb, Kolb, or Vick will be on the Browns, at least before training camp. It’s best if Browns fans just look the other way.
* * * * *
All in all, there is not much there. The Browns will make a decision about draft vs. free agency vs. Brady Quinn with regards to their young Quarterback, but do not be surprised if the Browns bring in a veteran Quarterback via free agency if Quinn is their man for 2010.