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NFL quarterback dominoes are falling before free agency even starts

The pending release of Tony Romo and the Bills’ decision to retain Tyrod Taylor help clarify things.

NFL: NFC Divisional-Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Free agency officially begins on Thursday, March 9, but the market for quarterbacks began to take shape on Wednesday. Here’s the status of the quarterback market heading into free agency.

Tony Romo: The Cowboys will reportedly release Romo on Thursday, and he’ll instantly be the hottest name on the free agent quarterback list. The Denver Broncos and Houston Texans seem like the most ideal landing spots, given the strength of their respective defenses and the offensive talent on both teams. Romo could step in and make either contenders.

Brian Hoyer: San Francisco was heading into the new league year with a grand total of zero quarterbacks on its roster, which changed Wednesday with the signing of Brian Hoyer to a multi-year deal. Hoyer has a history with new Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan, who was Hoyer’s offensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns in 2014.

Tyrod Taylor: Buffalo checked itself off the list of teams in dire need of a starting quarterback by restructuring the contract of Tyrod Taylor on Wednesday. Taylor has potential to be the guy in Buffalo, though not enough to justify the $30 million his original contract was set to pay him over the next two seasons.

Who’s left?

Plenty of teams still need quarterbacks, and there are some experienced quarterbacks who are still available in free agency. For teams that need starters, though, there’s not much to work with here.

Jay Cutler: The veteran has not yet been released by the Bears, but it is expected to happen soon. Romo will likely be teams’ highest priority, but once he is off the market, teams may gravitate toward Cutler because of his experience despite a lackluster performance in a 2016 season cut short by injury.

Mike Glennon: The free agent has started a grand total of 18 NFL games, but he is being consistently linked to the Bears. He’s reportedly set to earn around $15 million per year. What a time to be alive.

Josh McCown: The Cowboys are meeting with Josh McCown, as Dallas will need a backup for Dak Prescott with Romo leaving.

These other guys: Colin Kaepernick, Ryan Fitzpatrick, EJ Manuel, Blaine Gabbert, Geno Smith, and Mark Sanchez all remain on the market, and the best-case scenario is that they’ll get snapped up by teams in need of an experienced backup quarterback.

The 49ers will also be in the market for a backup quarterback, since the signing of Hoyer leaves the Niners with precisely one quarterback on the roster, total. General manager John Lynch spoke highly of DeShone Kizer and Deshaun Watson during the combine, so pulling in a rookie backup through the draft is also a possibility.

When free agency officially begins on Thursday at 4 p.m. ET, some of these quarterbacks will quickly find new homes, as the Browns, Jets, Texans, Bears, and Broncos are all still in need of starting quarterbacks.