Best fits for top 5 free-agent QBs


Quarterback is the worst position in all of free agency. While mediocre starters like Jay Cutler are guaranteed more than $15 million per season, only sub-mediocre options get to the open market.

That's more true than ever this season. No quarterback is ranked in the top 50 of our best 101 free agents this season. There's very little room between our top quarterback (Jake Locker) and the rest of our top five because they are all backups ideally.

More than ever, quarterback is a draft and develop position. Any player you acquire in free agency or trade usually qualifies as damaged goods. That's why teams like the Browns, Bills and Buccaneers keep looking for a new answer year after year.

Here are our top free agent quarterbacks, including best fits for the top 5.

1. Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans

Locker hasn't been able to stay healthy, but he has more talent than anyone else on this list. On the plus side, he's tough in the pocket and has great athleticism. Teams should be concerned about his accuracy and his durability. He has the highest ceiling of any available option, and perhaps some quarterback tutor out there will give Locker a chance at a career reinvention.

Free agent fit: The Eagles have been linked to Locker by at least one report, and it makes sense. Philadelphia would love to have another veteran option with Nick Foles because they can't count on a draft trade for Marcus Mariota. Locker would be an intriguing fit running Chip Kelly's offense.

2. Brian Hoyer, Cleveland Browns

Hoyer played to expectations in Cleveland. He is a solid backup quarterback that can succeed for a short stretch as a starter, but you don't want him playing all season. There are plenty of good backup jobs available, but Hoyer could get a chance as a "1B" option to compete for a starting job.

Free agent fit: Tennessee sounds more likely to draft defense at No. 2 overall. Hoyer smells like a Ken Whisenhunt quarterback who can stand by in case Zach Mettenberger doesn't work out.

3. Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia Eagles

How much did Sanchez's run in Philly really change his value? His turnover problem did not go away, and there's no reason to think he'll be as productive away from Chip Kelly's offense.

Free agent fit: If Sanchez landed in Buffalo, perhaps Rex Ryan could change his tattoo again. The Bills acquisition of Matt Cassel should prevent that, so we could see Sanchez landing in Chicago as options 1B behind Jay Cutler

4. Ryan Mallett, Houston Texans

Mallett never impressed us in preseason work with the Patriots. His accuracy is scattershot, and he's not great moving in the pocket. He looked decent in his first start last season, but a torn rotator cuff ended his season. We'll believe the hype when we see the production.

Free agent fit: The Texans staff has made it clear repeatedly that they love Mallett and want him back, likely as the favorite to start in Week 1. It's unlikely any other team will want him that much.

5. Matt Moore, Miami Dolphins

Moore last earned meaningful snaps in 2011, when he averaged 7 yards-per-attempt in 10 starts. He's been one of the highest paid backups in the league since.

Free agent fit: The Jets likely want to draft a quarterback, but picking up a capable veteran also makes sense. The Jets should aim for volume in their quarterback room until quality emerges.

Best of the Rest

6. Michael Vick
7. Tarvaris Jackson
8. Colt McCoy
9. Shaun Hill
10. Christian Ponder
11. Jason Campbell
12. Jimmy Clausen
13. Scott Tolzien
14. Blaine Gabbert
15. Matt Flynn
16. Tyrod Taylor

Vick had a few nice games last season, but he also produced two of the worst performances we saw all season by a quarterback. He's a backup and nothing more at this stage. ... Tarvaris Jackson is likely to return to Seattle, while Colt McCoy could be a solid option for teams like the Bears, 49ers and Cardinals that need backups. ... Perhaps Clausen will end up with Marc Trestman in Baltimore.

Trade possibilities

The amount of teams needing a quarterback this offseason far exceeds the amount of quality veterans available. The thin quarterback crop in the draft only makes matters worse. We count nine teams that need a starter or would like to upgrade their starting quarterback: Buffalo, Houston, Tampa, Cleveland, New York Jets, Tennessee, Philadelphia, Chicago, and St. Louis. There are also plenty of teams looking for potential backups: Baltimore, Miami, Washington, San Francisco and Arizona.

We could see the trade market being more interesting than free agency. Jay Cutler, Sam Bradford, Mike Glennon and Kirk Cousins could likely all be acquired for the right price.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast breaks down all the franchise tags and discusses where Ndamukong Suh will land. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.