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Teams in need of a QB can still turn to free agency, trades

Eric Hartline / US Presswire
Kevin Kolb might be moved to another team, and it would likely come at a steep price.


We know which teams needed quarterbacks and addressed that position in the draft. We also know that there are several veterans quarterbacks, still on rosters, whose futures are still up in the air.

The lockout has things on hold for Donovan McNabb, Carson Palmer, Kyle Orton, Kevin Kolb, Matt Hasselbeck, Marc Bulger, Alex Smith and a handful of other veterans. Let's take a look at where they could end up and if they'll have a chance to start.

Kevin Kolb, Eagles: With one year left on his contract, Kolb's desire to be a starter will only be fulfilled via trade. While Philadelphia might be able to draw second-round -- and maybe even first-round -- compensation, there is no guarantee the Eagles will move him. All signs point to them doing so because they don't want to let him walk away as a free agent after the season. However, Andy Reid and company could hang onto Kolb as insurance in case Michael Vick gets hurt, which is a definite possibility.

Philadelphia didn't use any of its 11 picks on a quarterback so they don't seem like they're in a rush to part with Kolb. This isn't an ideal scenario for Kolb, but things tend to work themselves out. The Eagles said they have entertained trade offers and there could be plenty of suitors: Seattle, Arizona, and possibly Miami among them.

Donovan McNabb, Redskins: McNabb won't be with Washington for much longer -- a fact pumped up even more when coach Mike Shanahan bragged on John Beck as a potential starter. The Redskins will try to trade him but probably won't find any partners, so he's expected to be released.

McNabb could be a stop-gap pickup for Miami, San Francisco, possibly Minnesota and maybe even Cincinnati, but his list of options -- at least for him as a starter -- might not be extensive. If I'm the Carolina Panthers, I'd express some interest. The Panthers might not be McNabb's first choice but if his pickings are slim, he might consider it. It could give him a chance to start the season and keep No. 1 overall pick Cam Newton out of the limelight for now.

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Carson Palmer, Bengals: Cincinnati has called Palmer's bluff, drafting TCU's Andy Dalton in the second round and talking him up as the starter. Palmer's option of retiring looks very likely unless Cincinnati gets an offer which it seemingly can't refuse, like a first- or second-round pick in 2012. Even then, owner/GM/decision-maker Mike Brown might decline.

Palmer also could decide to play -- which the Bengals would prefer -- but as of now, both sides seem like they're set to move on.

Should Cincinnati contemplate moving Palmer, San Francisco, Miami, Washington, Arizona and Seattle could be interested. I'm just not sure the compensation could get Brown to budge.

Kyle Orton, Broncos: He could be a fairly hot target for a trade with the Vikings seemingly a nice fit -- especially since he played in the division when he was with the Bears. Orton would be thrust into a similar situation as last season, biding his time while a rookie (Christian Ponder) is groomed to take his job.

Then again, Minnesota has to take one more shot with the aging roster and might want a veteran to lead the way. Coach Leslie Frazier said he wanted to draft a quarterback and add a veteran and that thinking seems to remain.

Orton could also fit in with the Cardinals, who need a veteran after not drafting a quarterback. Max Hall or John Skelton might one day be the starter, but they still need time to develop.

Marc Bulger (Ravens, free agent): Reports surfaced last week that Bulger could already have a wink-wink deal in place with Arizona. That would not be surprising since the Cardinals expressed some interest last season before the former Rams starter signed on as a backup in Baltimore.

Bulger took a beating in his final few seasons in St. Louis and durability is a legitimate concern. If things don't work with Arizona, Bulger likely won't get many other opportunities to compete for a starting job. He is widely viewed as a nice backup.

Matt Hasselbeck (Seahawks, free agent): Hasselbeck is a free agent, but there is a lot of thinking that Seattle will try to re-sign him. If that happens, Hasselbeck will have to compete with Charlie Whitehurst for the starting job, but he already won the first round of that battle with ease and probably wouldn't be too afraid of going head-to-head again. At this point in his career, Hasselbeck might not want a change, but then again, maybe that could reinvigorate things.

Miami, Washington, Minnesota and Arizona could be possibilities.

Alex Smith (49ers, free agent): Smith's next move could be interesting. Coach Jim Harbaugh has said they'd like to bring him back to compete for the starting job, but they probably wouldn't do anything with him long-term after drafting promising Colin Kaepernick in the second round. Smith could view this as another opportunity to showcase himself, but he also might want a change of scenery.

He's been through a lot in San Francisco, including two coaches and multiple offensive coordinators. I don't think it would be stunning if he took a job with another team -- maybe even as a backup -- to try and revitalize his career. He might actually fit in Denver if the Broncos move Orton. He could compete with Tim Tebow, who is far from a lock, and step in if Tebow doesn't quite work.

Vince Young, Matt Leinart and Tarvaris Jackson: These were three of the top five quarterbacks taken in the 2006 draft (Jay Cutler and Kellen Clemens were third and fourth in this pecking order). Leinart already was let go by Arizona last season and finished with Houston. Young and Jackson will no longer be with the teams that drafted them (Tennessee and Minnesota) once the lockout is over.

No teams seem to be kicking down the door to get any of them on their rosters, although all of them will get a shot. The former starters are in precarious positions. They each want another shot to be the No. 1 quarterback, but not many teams are going to give them that opportunity.

Odds are, each will land with a team with a starter in place and will have to rehabilitate their careers as backups. Don't you have a feeling, though, that at least two of them will end up in the NFC East (Dallas and Philadelphia)?

Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89.

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