NFL Free Agency Winners And Losers, Starring Kyle Orton And The QB Apocalypse

ENGLEWOOD, CO - JULY 28: Quarterback Kyle Orton #8 of the Denver Broncos makes a pass during training camp at the Paul D. Bowlen Memorial Broncos Centre at Dove Valley on July 28, 2011 in Englewood, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

With the 2011 NFL free agency frenzy over, we take a look at the Kyle Orton phenomenon among quarterbacks, plus check in with free agency winners and losers, including the Vikings, Bears, Redskins, and the poor, poor, Buffalo Bills.

NFL free agency has finally calmed down, and on Thursday we took a look at the winners and losers involved in some of the bigger moves, namely Nnamdi Asomugha (and his name). Now it's time for Part Two, where we begin with the quarterbacks.

Here's everything you need to know about the quarterback market in 2011: Nobody's gained more from free agency than Kyle Orton and his reputation. Over the course of the past 10 days, Orton has become the trendy pick among NFL experts as a sexy sleeper for teams in need of a quarterback. Which would be fine, except this is Kyle Orton we're talking about.

Watching fans and media talk up Orton is kind of amazing.

"Hey," you counter, "Remember when Orton went 25-of-35 for 307 yards and two touchdowns in a win against the Seahawks?" But remember when he went 12-of-29 for 198 yards against the Raiders? Or that he finished his 2010 season by going 28-of-69 for 283 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions against the Chiefs and Cardinals? The Chiefs and Cardinals. You really think he'd suddenly inject new life into the Dolphins?

Orton's experience and ability make him a pretty solid option as a backup, but if you're looking for a starting quarterback and Kyle Orton's the sleeper option that has everyone buzzing... Good God, how bad are the other options? ... And there's the rub, of course.

Here's the rest of the QB choices this summer. (Spoiler alert).

Next to McNabb and maybe Hasselbeck, Orton's the only guy who can definitely be a capable starter in the NFL at this point, so maybe the experts are right. ...Or maybe we're looking at a seismic event here, and from now on, we should just accept that there won't be more than 10 good quarterbacks in the NFL at any given time.

Because that's sorta what it seems like. As if this is just a reality check; there just aren't that many good quarterbacks anymore. Like, at all. Teams like the Redskins (John Beck) and Bills (Ryan Fitzpatrick) didn't even bother trying to find a better option. Could you blame them? And more importantly, how are 12 different teams going to draft Andrew Luck next year?


Anyway, Let's get to a few more winners and losers. We'll go with Thursday's format again, in honor of Nnamdi Asomugha. For the winners: Awesome. For the losers... Whaa?

Let's start in Minnesota.


To Donovan McNabb and the Minnesota Vikings... Awesome. The general quarterback market may resemble some nightmarish end of days scenario, but McNabb's the exception. He's not a great player anymore, but he's not as bad as he looked last year in Washington, where he played behind one of the worst lines in the league, and spent the bulk of the year throwing to guys like Anthony Armstrong and Fred Davis, who sound like auto-generated names from a video game.

In Minnesota? Good offensive line, great running game, and better receivers, so he won't be asked to single-handedly compensate for mediocrity everywhere else. Plus, leaving the Redskins has gotta add a little bounce to his step, right? After you experience what it's like to play on the Redskins, just showing up to practice for a real, competent team must feel outstanding.

Likewise, going from Brett Favre to McNabb could add 4 or 5 wins alone. The same way a bad coach can single-handedly poison an NBA team, a bad quarterback can (and did) ruin a team like the Vikings. Think of it like the Bulls going from Vinny Del Negro (F) to Tom Thibodeau (A). Now the Vikings are going from Favre (D+) to McNabb (B), and all it took was a sixth round pick. A pretty great deal, all things considered. And speaking of the Redskins...


To the Washington Redskins... Whaa? Mostly, the "whaa?" here centers on the lack of horrible moves from Dan Snyder this offseason. Sure, they supposedly offered more money than the Jets for Santonio Holmes (and still got turned down), but they didn't go out and sign Matt Hasselbeck and/or Vince Young, and they didn't sign three washed up running backs like last year. Things could be a lot worse for 'Skins fans.

But since we're here, we might as well note that they drafted two running backs this year, but still decided to trade another draft pick for Tim Hightower this week. Likewise, they've got three promising young wide receivers, but rather than let them develop in a rebuilding year, they went out and signed Dante Stallworth and traded for Jabar Gaffney. All minor moves, but reassuring, too; the Redskins may be quiet this year, but they still have no idea what they're doing.

Also, they signed a punter who's currently exiled in Australia.


To Peyton Manning... Awesome. Anytime you can sign a contract that makes you the highest paid player in the league and still be praised for taking "less" money... Quite an accomplishment right there.


Only $90 million and 18-a-year? How noble.


To the Houston Texans... Awesome. Speaking of Peyton Manning, the Texans need to kick his ass if they want to go anywhere as a franchise, and bringing in Jonathan Joseph should go a long way toward helping the cause. He's not Nnamdi Asomugha, but he's younger, cheaper, and he should get better over the next few years, when he and the Texans will be looking to leapfrog their divisional counterparts in Indy.


To the Seattle Seahawks... Whaa? It'd be one thing if they'd just signed Tavaris Jackson--desperate times call for desperate measures--but then Seattle had to go out and give Sidney Rice a 5-year, $41 million deal with $18.5 million guaranteed. That, despite the fact that Rice didn't see meaningful action until 2009 (8 touchdowns), and then missed all but six games in 2010.

More importantly, Rice's deal begs the question: At what point should a team just concede that they won't be throwing the football?  Betting big on Sidney Rice would've made sense for a team with a promising quarterback and no big play threat (St. Louis, Tampa Bay), but pairing him with Tavaris Jackson is like getting a $10,000 stereo system for a car that has a busted transmission. Or maybe a car that's sitting on cinderblocks.


To the Chicago Bears... Awesome. They had to sacrifice Olin Kreutz to make room, but they brought in a solid replacement (Chris Spencer), and added two guys that could make a big difference this year. First, they brought in Marion Barber to supplement the running game. As someone who's watched Marion Barber for the past five years in Dallas, he's GREAT as a supplement. For 10 carries-a-game, in the fourth quarter, Barber can be a pretty phenomenal weapon. At $5 million over two years, it's a low-risk move that could pay off big as the season unfolds. 

There's also Amobi Okoye, who comes in and provides a pretty solid upgrade over Tommie Harris at defensive tackle. Most importantly, Okoye's presence should take some pressure off Julius Peppers, and together, they should take a ton of pressure off the defense behind them.

Also, "Amobi Okoye" sounds like a horrible food-borne illness you might pick up in Africa.


To the Chicago Bears... Whaa? They traded Jay Cutler's most reliable receiving target (Greg Olsen) and replaced him with the Steelers' backup tight end (Matt Spaeth) and the worst receiver in the entire world (Roy Williams). If this was all a ploy to screw with Cutler, then I'm all for it, but otherwise, it seems like the Bears may have dropped the ball on this one. Just like Roy Williams will!


[/but seriously]



To the Dallas Cowboys... Whaa? As a Cowboys fan, I got a small thrill when I heard Dallas was one of the contenders for Nnamdi Asomugha. Then they didn't get him, and... Wait, so Jerry Jones isn't going to get another corner? He knows that Nnamdi wasn't the only one, right?

And what happened to adding depth on the offensive line? The big free agent safety they signed was Abe Elam? You know what, though... Forget it. I'm just glad they finally cut Roy Williams.


Finally, To the Buffalo Bills... Sorry. The Bills have an insane amount of cap room and a lot of money to spend before they even hit the salary minimum. This summer they managed to bring in Nick Barnett from the Packers and Tyler Thigpen from the Dolphins. Beyond that, in theory, you'd think they'd spend a lot of that money overpaying their more valuable players. But as it turns out, even the players that are already in Buffalo don't want to go to Buffalo.

Their leading tackler and best defender (MLB Paul Posluszny) spurned the Bills and fled to Jacksonville, and on Thursday safety Donte Whitner left for San Francisco. So even with all that money (that they have to spend), the Bills can't find anyone to spend it on. It makes no sense. Who doesn't want to hold their introductory photo shoot with Chan Gailey and Ralph Wilson in a Buffalo parking lot?


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