With Matt Flynn joining the Seattle Seahawks and Peyton Manning picking the Denver Broncos, the quarterback market in free agency is all but dried up. All that remains available are low-level backups and quarterbacks with little to no experience that don't offer realistic chances at starting.
We saw a few teams add new starters, a few more pick up quality backups while others will take their chances in the NFL draft. A couple more teams still don't have a clear answer at quarterback.
There was a lot of quarterback movement this year so it's time to recap some of the highlights.
Peyton Manning to the Broncos: The big fish in free agency, Manning will be in Denver next season. This is obviously the biggest movement in the quarterback market considering Manning is arguably the most high-profile free agent in NFL history. No other move made this season will make as big of a difference as Manning's addition to the Broncos. They go from a fringe playoff team to a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
Matt Flynn to the Seahawks: He was also considering the Dolphins but ultimately landed in Seattle on a three-year deal. He didn't get the six-year, $60+ million contract some thought he would get but he'll still probably be the starter in Seattle. The Seahawks really didn't have any other outside of Tarvaris Jackson so this was a move they had to make. They also made a run at Manning, going so far as to park a private jet at the airport in Denver, hoping to get a meeting with him.
Alex Smith returns to the 49ers: He took a flight to Miami to visit the Dolphins when word of the 49ers interest came out. If San Francisco had landed Manning, Smith would be finding work elsewhere. But they didn't and Smith returns to the 49ers on a three-year deal that will pay him an average of $8 million per year. Sounds about right for a player like him, who helped lead the 49ers to the NFC Championship game last season.
Tim Tebow traded to the Jets: This trade was finally completed on Wednesday night. This isn't a situation like Manning and Flynn where Tebow will come in as the starting quarterback. The Jets made it very clear -- he's the backup to Mark Sanchez. The question is how long Sanchez remains the starter before the Tebowmaniacs go wild.
Kyle Orton to the Cowboys: He's a backup quarterback. The interesting part of his situation is that the Cowboys gave him a $5 million signing bonus. The GM of Orton's former team, the Chiefs, called it a "very, very generous contract." The Cowboys issued a claim on Orton when Denver waived him last year -- the Chiefs got him instead -- so we knew they had interest in Orton. But $5 million for a guy who, in a perfect world, won't see the field? Seems like a lot.
Jason Campbell to the Bears: Remember last year when the Bears were on their way to the playoffs? And then Jay Cutler got injured and Caleb Hanie had to step in? Yeah, that was a total disaster that resulted in the Bears missing the playoffs. Chicago didn't want to let their hopes hang on a guy like Hanie again in the event Cutler goes down. So they went out and picked up Campbell, who becomes one of the top backups in the league.
Chad Henne to the Jaguars: He received a decent contract, which suggests Blaine Gabbert will feel a little fire under his seat. That's the goal, really, Push Gabbert into being a better NFL starter because he was poor last year, even for a rookie. Henne drew interest from multiple teams seeking a top-level backup.
The Draft Picks
Andrew Luck to the Colts: This hasn't happened yet, but it will. The Colts will select Luck with the No. 1 pick and he'll be replacing a legend. It's hard to think, even as hyped as Luck is, that he'll match the unprecedented success Manning had as the Colts' quarterback.
Robert Griffin III to the Redskins: After the Colts select Luck, the Redskins will assuredly select RG3, the Baylor quarterback. He's a dynamic player who seems like a perfect fit in Mike Shanahan's offense.
To Be Determined
David Garrard (or someone else) to the Dolphins: Is Miami done at quarterback? I hope not. They struck out on both Manning and Flynn, and they're drafting eighth next April, which may or may not be high enough to snag Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill. The Browns could select Tannehill which would put the Dolphins in deep doo-doo. That's their last option to have some sort of long-term hope at quarterback. Garrard was out of football last year. He's not the answer and a backup, at best. And Matt Moore showed the Dolphins last year he's not a high-level starting quarterback.
Someone to the Browns: Like the Dolphins, the Browns could be in some trouble at quarterback. They didn't get Manning or Flynn, and they're not drafting high enough for Luck or RG3. So...Ryan Tannehill anyone? Cleveland is picking fourth which should be high enough to pick Tannehill, if they decide to move on from Colt McCoy. That may be a bit of a stretch but if they don't pick him then their next best option would be Brandon Weeden, perhaps with their second first round pick.