Free agency primer: Ranking the quarterbacks


Around the League's positional free-agent preview series continues at quarterback. We've already handled wide receivers, running backs, pass rushers, interior defensive linemen and our Top 85 overall free agents. We listed each player with the team they played for in 2012 and ranked them according to who we'd want to sign, not who will make the most money.

The best you can do

1. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills
2. Matt Cassel, Kansas City City Chiefs (UPDATE: Agreed to terms with the Minnesota Vikings)
3. Jason Campbell, Chicago Bears

Notes: Fitzpatrick was released by the Bills immediately after the start of the NFL's calendar year on March 12. He's a quality backup with the ability to ignite an offense for short stretches. Just don't ask him to throw deep. ... Cassel was cut by the Chiefs. He has a lot of experience and would make a good backup. ... If you were scared off by Campbell's wholly underwhelming cameo with the Bears last season, we understand. Still, he's got relative youth and experience on his side.

It's getting late early

3. Chase Daniel, New Orleans Saints (UPDATE: Signed with the Kansas City Chiefs)
4. Byron Leftwich, Pittsburgh Steelers
5. Brady Quinn, Kansas City Chiefs
6. Rex Grossman, Washington Redskins
7. Drew Stanton, Indianapolis Colts (UPDATE: Signed with the Arizona Cardinals)
8. Josh Johnson, Cleveland Browns
9. David Carr, New York Giants

Notes: You're not building a franchise around any of these guys. They're all solid backups that come with limitations. We like Leftwich the best of the group, but there isn't much in the way of separation between him and Carr. Rex Grossman actually started in a Super Bowl, though we're pretty sure that was a mid-aughts fever dream.

Rose (Bowl) colored glasses

10. Matt Leinart, Oakland Raiders
11. Vince Young, free agent

Notes: Yes, we're being cute by putting these two former college rivals together, but they really are in the same neighborhood at this point of their careers. That's pretty amazing when you remember the hype surrounding these guys in the halcyon days of 2006. Leinart is the more stable of the two, which gives him the nod for us.

If you're on this list, you're less desirable than Vince Young

With the offseason officially under way, Around the League will examine what's next for all 32 teams.

AFC East
» Bills | Dolphins | Jets | Patriots
AFC North
» Bengals | Browns | Ravens | Steelers
AFC South
» Colts | Jaguars | Texans | Titans
AFC West
» Broncos | Chargers | Chiefs | Raiders
NFC East
» Cowboys | Eagles | Giants | Redskins
NFC North
» Bears | Lions | Packers | Vikings
NFC South
» Buccaneers | Falcons | Panthers | Saints
NFC West
» Cardinals | Niners | Rams | Seahawks
12. Derek Anderson, Carolina Panthers (UPDATE: Agreed to terms with the Panthers)
13. Bruce Gradkowski, Cincinnati Bengals (UPDATE: Agreed to terms with the Pittsburgh Steelers)
14. Kellen Clemens, St. Louis Rams
15. Josh McCown, Chicago Bears
16. Charlie Batch, Pittsburgh Steelers
17. Luke McCown, Atlanta Falcons
18. Jordan Palmer, Jacksonville Jaguars
19. Tyler Thigpen, Buffalo Bills

And let's not forget ...

20. JaMarcus Russell, free agent

Notes: Don't call it a comeback! Actually, that's exactly what it is.

Position overview

Quarterback is the most important position in the game, which explains why you don't typically see the good ones reach free agency unless it's under unusual circumstances (see: Manning, Peyton). Moore tops the list because the team that signs him will acquire a proven guy with prime years ahead of him.

Oh yeah, we should probably address that Tebowing 800-pound gorilla in the corner. Barring an unlikely trade, Tim Tebow soon will be released by the New York Jets and will become a free agent. We would slot him in at No. 4 on this list, behind Campbell.

The biggest thing working against Tebow might be that he carries the stigma of being a distraction. There's no question that's been the case in New York, even if it was mostly out of his control. We're sure there are teams apprehensive about inviting Tebowmania into training camp.

Teams with a need

Buffalo Bills: Ryan Fitzpatrick could be cut. If so, Tarvaris Jackson needs a competition partner.

Miami Dolphins: With Moore likely heading out the door, the Dolphins might want to sign a veteran to join Ryan Tannehill and Pat Devlin.

New York Jets: Garrard met with the Jets, but nothing is done yet. Tebow will be released and Mark Sanchez will be in outright competition come August.

Take a look at the top players that will be available when free agency opens on March 12.

Cleveland Browns: It doesn't sound like the new brass in Cleveland is high on Brandon Weeden. Colt McCoy is on borrowed time.

Jacksonville Jaguars: New general manager David Caldwell already said the Jaguars have a "wide-open competition" at quarterback. Blaine Gabbert will have to earn his keep.

Oakland Raiders: Carson Palmer is a "now" quarterback on a "tomorrow" team. Do the Raiders believe in Terrelle Pryor? We'll soon find out.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Josh Freeman remains entrenched, but the Bucs might consider putting a viable second option behind their former golden boy.

Arizona Cardinals: We all know how bad things are here. Any free agent that signs with Arizona should get a chance at the starting job.

San Francisco 49ers: Colin Kaepernick is unquestionably The Man here, but trading Alex Smith has removed depth at the position for coach Jim Harbaugh.

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @DanHanzus.