When you look at the NFC West divisional quarterbacks, there is one team that stands out, and that is the Rams. Sam Bradford is one of the young, elite quarterbacks in the NFL, and is the best in the division. With the 2011 NFL draft completed and neither Seattle nor Arizona choosing a signal caller (and with free agency on hold because of the lockout), the big question remains for those teams that didn’t draft or re-sign their quarterbacks to a long term deal: Who will be at the helm?
The NFL is a quarterback-driven league. It has become a passing league and if you don’t have a good quarterback, the chances of your team being competitive or consistently battling for the division crown every year are slim and none.
While St. Louis is set, Arizona, Seattle and San Francisco still have major question marks and issues at the position. With the arrival of head coach Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco, the vacancy at the quarterback position may be filled. Harbaugh finds free agent Alex Smith intriguing after close evaluation and feels he is the quarterback to lead his team. With free agency on hold until the lockout is lifted, Smith made an indirect statement that there’s a good chance he will return to the 49ers for his seventh season.
Seattle and Arizona could find themselves in a bidding war over Philadelphia Eagles backup Kevin Kolb. He seems to be the prime player that teams are willing to trade away several draft picks for in order to secure a quarterback that has flashed ability when given the opportunity.
The Cardinals decided not to select a top quarterback in the 2011 draft, but snagged the best player in the draft in my opinion in corner and return specialist Patrick Peterson. Now they find themselves wondering and hoping, posturing with the agents while showing major interest in several quarterback options.
Arizona is in the hunt for Kolb and Kyle Orton, who is presently on Denver’s roster. Marc Bulger was rumored to be headed there last season, but ownership rejected the transaction. A backup to Joe Flacco with the Baltimore Ravens, he is in the right spot as a No. 2. Shell-shocked quarterbacks really struggle with happy feet and give up on a play rather than stand in there and throw under pressure.
While the Seahawks took a page out of Bill Walsh’s draft philosophy and secured two offensive linemen with their first two picks, the reigning NFC West champions are going about their business to develop a ball-control offense by establishing the run first, and hiring Tom Cable as the offensive line coach is the cherry on top.
With that said they are still in desperate need for a quarterback. Charlie Whitehurst did a great job managing the team when defeating the Rams in the season finale to bring the NFC West crown back to the Pacific Northwest, but he is not the future for the Seahawks.
The Seahawks are quietly shopping for a quarterback, while keeping free agent and aged veteran Matt Hasselbeck alive with some interest in having him back. Other names are Kolb and Carson Palmer, the Cincinnati Bengals outcast who states he will retire before going back and playing for the Brown family.
The problem with Palmer’s situation is his agent is demanding a trade, and the organization is dug in like a tick and plans on keeping his rights. With several injuries to his knee and shoulder, despite a productive season in 2010, he doesn’t have a lot left in the tank or several teams would be ringing the phone off the hook.
There are no quarterbacks in free agency that could step in and take the helm and steer the ship into the playoffs. Seattle can’t afford to take a step backward after winning the NFC West, and must continue to move forward.
Arizona is also looking for a home-run hitter. With the best receiver in the division (Larry Fitzgerald), a scrappy defense and a two-headed monster at running back this team is a quarterback away from competing for the NFC West title.
While the NFC West was the worst division in football in 2010 and maybe, just maybe, the worst in NFL history, the addition of a few quarterbacks might lead to it developing quickly into the top division in the NFC.