If it wasn't evident already, the 2012 NFL season proved just how valuable quarterback talent is. Without one, it's an uphill battle to make the playoffs, but as Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson showed, the addition of a solid quarterback can transform a team's season.
Despite a weak quarterback crop in free agency and the NFL Draft, there was still significant movement around the league. A few teams will open 2013 with a new quarterback under center, but in some cases there is still a question of who will win the starting job.
The Cardinals big move of the offseason came when they traded a pair of late-round draft picks to Oakland for Carson Palmer. Palmer will now step into the starting role for the Cardinals and, although he may not be much better than a league-average quarterback, he should still be a significant upgrade for Arizona. To complete their quarterback overhaul, the Cardinals signed Drew Stanton, who could serve as the No. 2 quarterback. Ryan Lindley is the lone quarterback from last season still on the roster. John Skelton and Kevin Kolb battled for the starting job last fall, but both are now gone.
The Falcons have Matt Ryan and that is a very good thing. But there are major question marks behind Ryan on the depth chart. Former backup Luke McCown signed with New Orleans as a free agent. Second-year quarterback Dominique Davis, a former undrafted free agent, is currently slotted in as the No. 2 quarterback behind Ryan. Atlanta drafted Sean Renfree in the seventh round and signed Seth Doege as an undrafted free agent to round out the depth chart.
Baltimore made the big move of the offseason, signing Joe Flacco to a six-year contract worth more than $120 million. By making Flacco the highest-paid player in NFL history, Baltimore secured its starting quarterback for the next several years. It's a good thing too, because Tyrod Taylor and Caleb Hanie don't exactly inspire confidence behind Flacco. Those two will likely compete for the No. 2 spot while undrafted free agent Nathan Stanley attempts to work his way onto the roster.
The Bills came close to a complete overhaul at quarterback and will now have a new starter with Ryan Fitzpatrick off to Tennessee. The Bills signed Kevin Kolb to a two-year deal then drafted EJ Manuel with the No. 16 pick in the NFL Draft. Manuel is the starter of the future, but he will compete with Kolb and Tarvaris Jackson for the starting job in training camp. Former Washington State quarterback Jeff Tuel could earn a roster spot if the Bills release Jackson or Kolb before the start of the season.
Cam Newton will once again lead the way for the Panthers heading into the 2013 season. After re-signing Derek Anderson, Carolina's depth chart should look very similar to last season. Anderson will compete with Jimmy Clausen for the No. 2 job with undrafted free agent Colby Cameron also in the mix.
For the third-straight season, Jay Cutler will have a new offensive coordinator in Chicago. After going from Mike Martz to Mike Tice, Cutler will now work with Aaron Kromer on Marc Trestman's new staff. Cutler averaged 7.0 yards per attempt last season, the second-lowest total of his career. Former backup quarterback Jason Campbell signed with Cleveland, leaving Josh McCown to backup Cutler and Matt Blanchard currently the No. 3.
Andy Dalton returns for his third season as the Bengals starting quarterback, but the depth chart behind him will look considerably different from last season. Former backup Bruce Gradkowski is now in Pittsburgh, so Josh Johnson, John Skelton and Zac Robinson round out the depth chart. Despite starting for two years, there are some questions surrounding Dalton, but he isn't likely to be challenged for his starting job this season.
Brandon Weeden struggled during his rookie season, but it appears he will get another chance to start with the new coaching staff. Cleveland signed Jason Campbell and he could compete for the starting job, but he's likely better suited for a backup role. Thaddeus Lewis is also on the roster, but he's not an ideal fit for Rob Chudzinski's vertical passing offense.
There is no question as to who the starting quarterback in Dallas is, as Tony Romo signed a six-year contract extension this offseason. Kyle Orton reworked his contract to return as Romo's backup, while Nick Stephens and Aaron Corp will battle for the No. 3 spot.
After reshuffling their quarterbacks last season, Denver didn't do much to its quarterback depth chart this offseason. Peyton Manning returns for his 16th NFL season and second in Denver. With a healthy Manning in the fold, backup quarterbacks seem to be irrelevant, but Brock Osweiler will man that role for a second season. Undrafted free agents Zac Dysert and Ryan Katz will compete for a spot on the roster.
The Lions were apparently OK with their 2012 quarterback depth chart as they didn't make any notable changes this offseason. Matthew Stafford returns as the starter after throwing for more than 10,000 yards over the last two seasons. Shaun Hill and Kellen Moore will battle for the No. 2 job and the right to play if Stafford's arm falls off from attempting another 700 passes. Alex Carder is a longshot to make the team as an undrafted free agent.
Fresh off signing a long-term contract extension which made him the highest-paid player in NFL history, Aaron Rodgers returns to lead the way for Green Bay. Rodgers has missed just two games in five seasons as a starter and the Packers may need him to continue to stay healthy. Graham Harrell held the No. 2 job last season and he will compete to keep that spot with B.J. Coleman. Neither player, however, inspires much confidence should Rodgers go down.
Matt Schaub is the unquestioned starter in Houston, but he is coming off a season in which he averaged 7.37 yards per attempt, the lowest total since his rookie season. Schaub was able to avoid injury last season, but may need to be better in 2013 if Houston is going to make a legitimate run at the Super Bowl. T.J. Yates has some experience behind Schaub, and Stephen McGee and Case Keenum will fight it out for the No. 3 spot.
Andrew Luck returns for his second NFL season after a solid rookie campaign. He will have a veteran backup this season as the Colts signed Matt Hasselbeck as their No. 2 quarterback. Although past his prime, Hasselbeck should be able to keep the ship afloat if thrust into action. Chandler Harnish should also benefit from a veteran mentor as he heads into his second season.
Despite serious quarterback issues, the Jaguars did not add to the position in free agency or the draft. Instead, Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne will vie for the starting job in training camp. Gabbert will get a clean start with a new coaching staff, but if he or Henne fail to establish themselves as the starter, the Jaguars quarterback group could look completely different next season. Matt Scott and Jordan Rodgers will battle for the No. 3 spot.
The Chiefs quarterback depth chart will look considerably different this season. Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn are out with Alex Smith and Chase Daniel now atop the depth chart. The Chiefs paid a premium to acquire Smith from San Francisco. If he fails, the Andy Reid era will not be off to a good start in Kansas City. Daniel should be secure as the No. 2 after signing a three-year, $10 million deal, leaving Ricky Stanzi and Tyler Bray to battle for the No. 3 spot.
After re-signing Moore, the Dolphins will open the 2013 season with the same quarterback depth chart as they closed 2012. Tannehill enters his second year and should benefit from a full offseason as the starting quarterback. Moore is in the discussion as the best backup quarterback in the league, while Devlin is a developmental project. Assuming Tannehill progresses from his rookie season, the Dolphins should be in good shape at quarterback in 2013.
Christian Ponder returns as the unquestioned starter in Minnesota despite struggling during his second NFL season. The Vikings added Matt Cassel as a veteran backup and he could potentially see the field if Ponder continues to struggle or misses time with an injury. Webb remains a project while Vandenberg and Bethel-Thompson will also get a shot to impress.
Current depth chart: Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett, Mike Kafka
There is no quarterback controversy in New England as Tom Brady returns for his 13th season. There were reports that New England was shopping Ryan Mallett, but it looks like he will return to backup Brady once again. Mike Kafka could challenge Mallett for the No. 2 duties.
Drew Brees is back for another season and will have Sean Payton back calling plays. There will, however, be some shakeup behind Brees this season as Chase Daniel departed for Kansas City. Luke McCown and Seneca Wallace signed as free agents and will likely battle for the No. 2 job. If the 5'11 Wallace won the job, he and the 6'0 Brees may combine to be the shortest 1-2 quarterbacks in NFL history.
The Giants are set at the top of the depth chart with Eli Manning returning for his 10th season in New York. The 32-year-old Manning should be a fixture with the Giants for a few more seasons, but New York added some depth behind him. The Giants traded up in the draft to select Ryan Nassib in the fourth round. Nassib will likely battle David Carr for the backup job this season and could be the quarterback of the future in New York, although Manning isn't slowing down anytime soon. Curtis Painter will head to training camp competing with Carr for the final quarterback spot on the roster.
The Jets shuffled their quarterback depth chart this offseason, but it remains in disarray. Tim Tebow is gone with Geno Smith and David Garrard joining the competition. Mark Sanchez will take the first snaps this offseason according to Rex Ryan, but he, Smith or Garrard could open the season as the starter. Smith should get a chance to play at some point as he attempts to become the long-term solution in New York. Greg McElroy could also be in the mix, but he and Matt Simms are competing for roster spots.
The Raiders ended the brief Carson Palmer era by trading him to Arizona. Oakland replaced Palmer with Matt Flynn in a trade with Seattle and he should open the season as the starter. Flynn flashed potential in two starts with Green Bay, but has never had the opportunity to prove he could start over the course of a season. Terrelle Pryor saw an increase of playing time late last season and he could challenge Flynn for the starting job. Oakland drafted Tyler Wilson in the fourth round and he too could challenge for the starting job with a solid early showing. Kyle Padron, an undrafted free agent, will have a tough time making the roster unless Oakland trades one of its other three quarterbacks.
The world is still waiting to see what offensive scheme Chip Kelly brings to the Eagles, but whatever the Eagles run, Kelly will first have to settle on a starting quarterback. Michael Vick reworked his contract and is back for another season. Nick Foles is back, too. Vick and Foles could battle for the starting job while the Eagles added Matt Barkley in the NFL Draft. Assuming those three make the roster, Dennis Dixon and G.J. Kinne could be on the the wrong side of the roster bubble.
Ben Roethlisberger is still in Pittsburgh, but the quarterback depth chart behind him has a new look. Charlie Batch, Byron Leftwitch and Dennis Dixon are gone, with Bruce Gradkowski now backing up Roethlisberger. The Steelers drafted Landry Jones in the fourth round and he will likely contend with Gradkowski for the No. 2 job. The Steelers claimed John Parker Wilson off waivers this offseason and he will battle for a roster spot, although he's unlikely to unseat either Jones or Gradkowski.
Not much has changed in San Diego as the Chargers will enter the 2013 season with Philip Rivers and Charlie Whitehurst atop the depth chart. Rivers returns for his 10th NFL season, while Whitehurst begins his eighth season and sixth with the Chargers. Brad Sorensen and Mike Hermann, a pair of undrafted free agents, will compete for the third-string job.
For the first time since 2004, the 49ers will open the season without Alex Smith on the depth chart. San Francisco traded Smith to Kansas City and instead Colin Kaepernick will begin his first full season as an NFL starting quarterback. San Francisco traded for Colt McCoy and he should contend with Scott Tolzien to backup Kaepernick. Kaepernick flashed huge potential once he took over as the starter and now San Francisco will find out if he is able to carry that performance over an entire season.
There is no quarterback controversy in Seattle this year as Russell Wilson enters his sophomore season. Wilson won the starting job during training camp last season and finished the season strong after a slow start. Seattle took the training wheels off Wilson as the year went along and now he will play a full season without restrictions. The Seahawks traded Matt Flynn to Oakland so it will now be Brady Quinn backing up Wilson. Josh Portis and Jerrod Johnson will also be in the mix to make the roster.
Sam Bradford hasn't played poorly during his three NFL seasons, but he has yet to become the elite quarterback many thought he would when St. Louis drafted him with the No. 1 pick. The lack of elite play isn't necessarily Bradford's fault as St. Louis has shuffled coaches and failed to supply him with enough offensive weapons. Now in his second season under Jeff Fisher and with Tavon Austin, Jared Cook and others, 2013 is a big season for Bradford. Kellen Clemens returns as the No. 2 quarterback while Austin Davis will attempt to make the active roster.
Josh Freeman returns as the starter in Tampa Bay as he enters the final year of his rookie contract. Head coach Greg Schiano hasn't exactly given Freeman a ringing endorsement, so 2013 could be a make-or-break season for Freeman's Tampa Bay career. The Bucs drafted Mike Glennon in the third round and he should battle Dan Orlovsky for the backup job. If Freeman falters, Glennon may get an opportunity to start as soon as this season.
For the second-straight season, Jake Locker opens the season as the starting quarterback. Many had high expectations for Locker last year, but injuries and accuracy issues derailed his season. He'll get another chance to fulfill his potential. Matt Hasselbeck is off to Indianapolis so the Titans signed Fitzpatrick to replace him as the primary backup. Rusty Smith and Nathan Enderle appear headed toward a training camp battle for the No. 3 job.
The Redskins quarterback situation is focused on the health of Griffin's right knee. If Griffin's knee continues to progress and he's able to open the season healthy, the Redskins should be in good shape. Even if Griffin isn't healthy from the jump, the Redskins should be able to get by with Kirk Cousins providing a solid backup option. Rex Grossman spent last season as the No. 3 quarterback, but he will now compete with Pat White for that spot as White attempts to revitalize his career.