Who’s Out There? Quarterbacks

The Ravens may be in the market for a veteran backup behind Joe Flacco.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Friday, February 11th, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Categories: Ryan Mink

The Ravens got just what they hoped for out of backup quarterback Marc Bulger in 2010.

He didn’t have to play a snap and provided starter Joe Flacco with some veteran wisdom.

But with Bulger’s one-year contract ending, making him an unrestricted free agent, the Ravens could again be in the market for an experienced backup.

Bulger said at the end of the year that he would be open to returning to Baltimore as a backup. But he could get starting opportunities in places such as Arizona. Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has already made a pitch for him.

Ravens Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta said he’s open to pulling the trigger on drafting a quarterback (likely not in the first round) this April.

But with Flacco as the long-term answer, the team might opt for an experienced emergency starter instead of another signal-caller to groom. If the Ravens choose the free agency route, here are some of their options:

Note: Until there’s a new collective bargaining agreement, the Ravens can only re-sign their own players or assign them tenders. If there is a work stoppage, free agency will be postponed. Until further notice, Baltimore is operating under the 2010 free agency rules, which doesn’t grant unrestricted free agency until a player has at least six years in the league. That could change with a new agreement and make veterans with at least four years in the NFL unrestricted.

Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers
Unrestricted; 6-4, 217 pounds; 6 years
2010 Stats: 11 games, 10 starts, 59.6 completion percentage , 2,370 yards, 14 TD, 10 INT, 82.1 QB rating
Smith has been working with new San Francisco Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, a sign that he may be returning to the Bay Area. But if the 49ers go in a different direction (perhaps drafting a quarterback), the former top-overall pick could make sense in Baltimore. Ravens Offensive Assistant Craig Ver Steeg, who will work more in the quarterbacks room this year, has a relationship with Smith after recruiting him at Utah and coaching him for a year in college.
(Upside – Familiarity, Potential; Downside – Production, Cost)
Seneca Wallace, Cleveland Browns
Unrestricted; 5-11, 205; 8 years
2010 Stats: 8 games, 4 starts, 63.4 completion percentage , 694 yards, 4 TD, 2 INT, 88.5 QB rating
The Ravens know Wallace after facing him as a starter in Week 3 last season. Wallace had a solid day, throwing for 141 yards and a touchdown with no picks, helping give the Browns a chance at a win. He may have retained the starting job had it not been for an ankle injury. Wallace isn’t a big-time passer, but he can make some plays with his feet and executes the game plan without making many mistakes.
(Upside – Reliability, Experience, Mobility; Downside – Injuries)
Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle Seahawks
Unrestricted; 6-4, 225; 12 years
2010 Stats: 14 games, 14 starts, 59.9 completion percentage , 3,001 yards, 12 TD, 17 INT, 73.2 QB rating
Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll said re-signing Hasselbeck is “top priority” this offseason, but there hasn’t been a contract yet. Hasselbeck, once an upper-echelon signal-caller, has had three straight rocky seasons. He showed some magic in the Seahawks’ playoff win over New Orleans, however. Seattle could turn to backup Charlie Whitehurst, whom they traded for last season, or draft a signal-caller. If Hasselbeck hits the market, he’ll be coveted.
(Upside – Experience; Downside – Cost)

Matt Leinart, Houston Texans
Unrestricted (Released; 6-5, 232; 5 years
2010 Stats: None
The former first-round pick was cut by Arizona after four disappointing seasons. He was slated to step in for retired Kurt Warner last year, but clashed with Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt during the preseason, particularly after being benched in the preseason finale. Leinart publicly criticized Whisenhunt’s decision and said he wanted an explanation. According to FOX’s Jay Glazer, teams contacted him asking about Leinart’s character last offseason. Leinart signed with Houston, but didn’t see any game action backing up Matt Schaub. He has never put up good numbers and has been criticized for not getting the ball down the field, but could there be something we haven’t seen?
(Upside – Potential; Downside – Production, Character Issues)
Matt Moore, Carolina Panthers
Restricted; 6-3, 202; 4 years
2010 Stats: 6 games, 5 starts, 55.2 percentage , 857 yards, 5 TD, 10 INT, 55.6 QB rating
Moore entered the season as the Panthers’ starter, but had a rough start and was replaced after just two games by rookie Jimmy Clausen. Moore regained his starting job only to suffer a season-ending shoulder injury (torn labrum) in early November. He had a very solid 2009 season, however, and experience as a backup.
(Upside – Potential; Downside – Productions, Injuries)

Other Players To Watch

  • Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts, Unrestricted
  • Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles, Unrestricted
  • Todd Collins, Chicago Bears, Unrestricted
  • Caleb Hanie, Chicago Bears, Restricted
  • Tarvaris Jackson, Minnesota Vikings, Restricted
  • Kyle Boller, Oakland Raiders, Unrestricted
  • Bruce Gradkowski, Oakland Raiders, Unrestricted
  • Troy Smith, San Francisco 49ers, Unrestricted
  • Rex Grossman, Washington Redskins, Unrestricted

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