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Four quarterbacks hurt by offseason moves

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It's far too early in the offseason to start crowning teams -- or digging their graves.

Still, we can use the evidence we have so far to pinpoint a handful of NFL quarterbacks in better position to succeed in 2015. Dan Hanzus did exactly that on Monday, listing Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck and Sam Bradford among the passers who were helped by the first wave of free agency.

Positional breakdowns

Now let's take a look at four quarterbacks we believe were hurt by the handiwork of their respective front offices.

Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys


Dallas finally put it all together last season, scattering opponents with a blistering ground game behind the league's nastiest offensive line. With DeMarco Murray rumbling for 115.3 yards per game -- 19.5 more than the next best runner -- Romo found himself well-protected in a balanced offense that triggered career highs for the passer in completion percentage and touchdowns. With Murray now residing in Philly, that ground-control approach is in jeopardy.

The Cowboys went out and signed the milquetoast Darren McFadden as a patch, but with Lance Dunbar and Joseph Randle looming as committee-types, Dallas is on the hook to find a starter in the draft. It's an easier void to fill than losing Romo himself, but coach Jason Garrett said at the combine: "I don't like that expression, 'plug another back in there.'" The grand-slam solution? Wrest away Adrian Peterson from the Vikings, but that's easier said than done. Romo just can't catch a break.

Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears


Cutler's situation in Chicago felt poisonous even before they traded away his favorite target. Brandon Marshall was no locker-room sweetheart, but dumping a Pro Bowl wideout won't help this passing game. Outside of bringing in Eddie Royal, the Bears have done little to transform an attack that floundered under Marc Trestman last season. The hidden hope is that new play-caller Adam Gase will generate the same sparks he unleashed in Denver, but that boils down to the quarterback. Bears lineman Matt Slauson says Cutler "can be every bit of" Peyton Manning, "if not more." Our take: Chicago's biggest free-agent mistake was failing to find a way to move on from this failed experiment under center.

Nick Foles, St. Louis Rams


Call it the Chip Kelly Effect. Sam Bradford made our list of winners after landing with the Eagles, while Foles hits the loser's column for landing anywhere else. Nobody is mistaking the Rams for a quarterback-proof offense. We'll cut new play-caller Frank Cignetti some slack, but the name alone sounds better suited for a hard-boiled L.A. crime epic. What Cignetti gets in Foles, though, is a big-bodied passer -- 6-foot-5, 244 pounds -- with hints of potential. Still, two seasons removed from his 27-to-2 touchdown-to-pick campaign under Kelly, Foles won't ever come close to those numbers again in St. Louis.

Josh McCown, Cleveland Browns


It was tough sledding for McCown in Tampa Bay. The Browns offer no relief. While Cleveland made a pair of quality defensive signings on Monday, the front office has failed to improve the offense. Losing tight end Jordan Cameron to the Dolphins strips the Browns of their finest playmaker, further hurting an attack that might never again see Josh Gordon in uniform. Dwayne Bowe is on Cleveland's radar, but even if he signs, the Browns still lack a true No. 1 wideout. Brian Hartline is the only projected starter over 6-foot. We like the offensive line -- so will McCown -- but the Browns remain in need of a serious talent infusion.

Wait ... why not Drew Brees?


Brees is a wait-and-see for me. Losing Jimmy Graham is disastrous, but the Saints have two first-round picks and appear well on their way to transforming coach Sean Payton's pass-happy offense into a clock-chewing, ground-control attack. If anything, that would help Brees, who, at 36, stands to benefit from a more balanced scheme. If Mark Ingram and C.J. Spiller live up to the billing, this backfield could help Brees in the way Murray lifted Romo a season ago.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast is joined by Lindsay Rhodes and analyzes every free-agent move. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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