NFL Rumors: Tracking Buzz on Top Quarterbacks Available

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 25, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - NOVEMBER 11:  Quarterback Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up before a game against the St. Louis Rams on November 11, 2012 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California.  Smith left the game with a concussion in the second quarter.  The teams tied 24-24 in overtime.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

NFL teams looking for a high-end quarterback should have chosen a different offseason.

It doesn't look like any top QBs who will hit the open market at any time before the 2013 kicks off. Joe Flacco is be the best free agent, but there's no way the Baltimore Ravens will let the Super Bowl MVP slip away.

The 2013 NFL draft also isn't going to be the kind of jackpot it's been in the past. Geno Smith and Matt Barkley are the top QBs available, but the argument could be made that it's a major reach to take either one of them in the first round.

With the market quite bare, the rumors surrounding QBs on the market is rather lackluster. Here are three stories to follow this offseason, with the Kansas City Chiefs front and center.


Nick Foles Not Leaving the Philadelphia Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles have already locked up Michael Vick for the 2013 season after agreeing to a one-year deal (h/t Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk). It would have seemed that Nick Foles' time with the Eagles would be running out, with Vick getting the nod in 2013. Mike Garafolo of USA Today reported that wouldn't be the case:

The Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles spoke this week about a possible trade involving Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, but no progress has been made toward a deal, according to a person informed of the talks between the teams.

The person, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because the conversations weren't to be discussed publicly, said the Eagles conveyed to the Chiefs what they've been saying through the media – they like Foles and plan on giving him a chance to compete with Michael Vick for the starting job.

Both Vick and Foles struggled last season. Most of those problems were down to an offensive line that was ravaged by injuries. The Eagles are almost sure to take an offensive tackle such as Luke Joeckel in the 2013 draft to try and address the pass protection.

Should the pass-blocking improve, Vick or Foles will be put in a much better situation than was present last year. Everybody knows what Vick can bring, but Foles is much more of an unproven commodity.

Foles passed for 1,699 yards, six touchdowns and five interceptions in 2012, which are unspectacular numbers. He does look to be a quarterback who can succeed in the NFL with some more experience under his belt


Matt Cassel Done in Kansas City

The Chiefs were likely pursuing a new quarterback because they're already planning for Matt Cassel's departure. Later in his article, Garafolo also reported:

Meanwhile, a person briefed on the Chiefs' thinking in regard to Matt Cassel said the veteran quarterback has not been offered a pay cut from his slated salary of $7.5 million. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team hasn't talked about Cassel's contract situation in detail, said it seems Cassel is destined to be released soon.

Cassel had a forgettable 2012. He was only 1-7 last season and had twice as many interceptions (12) as he did touchdown passes (6). His passer rating of 66.7 was 32nd out of the 32 quarterbacks who qualified.

Things got so bad that Chiefs fans actually cheered when Cassel got hurt in Kansas City's loss to the Baltimore Ravens. It was an appalling scene in Arrowhead Stadium but was also a good illustration of the entire season for Kansas City.

A clean break is probably the best for both parties. With new leadership in place, it makes sense to start over at some positions.


Alex Smith Over Geno Smith

The Chiefs are wasting no time whatsoever this offseason in trying to find a replacement. Alex Smith is at the top of their wish list. Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports reported that Smith would even be the preferred option over selecting Geno Smith in the 2013 draft:

That means that the better question is where Smith will end up. Although one source said it's far too early to guess, Kansas City appears to be the most interested team. The Chiefs are unlikely to use the No. 1 overall pick on a quarterback this year because none of the top ones – such as Geno Smith and Matt Barkley – appear to be worth it. Several head coaches and offensive coordinators this week said they wouldn't be surprised if no quarterback were selected in the first round this year.

Smith was overshadowed this year as Colin Kaepernick led the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl. The veteran deserves plenty of credit for the way that he was content to sit back and let his team win without making much of a fuss.

On the field, Smith is still worthy of being a team's top signal-caller. Before he went down with injury and was replaced by Kaepernick, Smith threw for 1,737 yards, 13 touchdowns and only five interceptions.

While he's not the most prolific quarterback in the league, Smith's risk-averse style would suit the Chiefs very well. Despite its record, Kansas City isn't a terrible football team. Smith could help an offense that already has a fantastic running back in Jamaal Charles. He is a much more sure thing at this point than Geno Smith would be.