In what was a surprise announcement, Steve McNair decided to retire from the National Football League.
From a fantasy perspective, the 13-year veteran out of Alcorn State had a slow start to his career. He sat behind Chris Chandler for his first two seasons with the Houston Oilers, starting six games. His first full season as a No. 1 quarterback was 1997, when the Oilers moved to Tennessee to become the Titans.
Steve McNair is one of three quarterbacks to pass for more than 30,000 yards and rush for more than 3,500 yards. The other two quarterbacks are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
McNair's rise to fantasy football stardom began that season, when he threw for 2,665 yards, rushed for 674 yards and scored 22 total touchdowns. He had another solid season in 1998 with 3,228 passing yards, 559 rushing yards and 19 total touchdowns. Injuries started to hinder him in 1999 and caused him to become more of a pocket passer. That was fine with fantasy football owners, as McNair averaged 3,317 passing yards and 26 total touchdowns from 2001-2003.
He had his best season in 2003, throwing a career-best 24 touchdowns and earning co-MVP honors with Peyton Manning.
Injuries limited McNair to 22 starts from 2004-2005, at which point his value in fantasy land started a downward turn. It was also at this time that his relationship with the Titans seemed to sour, which resulted in a trade to Baltimore. The Ravens, whose decision to draft Kyle Boller exploded in the face of former head coach Brian Billick, traded a 2007 fourth-round choice to acquire McNair.
The move paid immediate dividends, as McNair started all 16 games in 2006 and led the Ravens to a 13-3 record. He didn't produce solid fantasy numbers, however, as McNair threw for 3,050 yards with 17 total touchdowns. Baltimore would go on to lose to Manning and the Colts in the AFC Divisional Round.
It would be McNair's final postseason appearance.
McNair was again limited due to injuries last season, missing a total of 10 starts. But after reports surfaced that he would take part in the Ravens' first minicamp this week, it appeared the top spot on the team's depth chart was his to lose. That scenario went out the window with news of his retirement, which causes a bit of a stir in fantasy land.
With McNair out of the mix, new head coach John Harbaugh must now lean on Boller and Troy Smith. Boller is the current in-house favorite to start, but the Ravens will no doubt look to add either a free-agent veteran (Daunte Culpepper's name has been mentioned) or a rookie signal-caller in the NFL Draft.
As it stands, Boller projects to see an increase in fantasy value. However, the California product still won't warrant consideration in most drafts. Smith will no doubt be allowed a chance to compete for the top spot as well, so Boller is no lock to open next season as the starter.
Overall, the position is very much in a state of flux.
Whether Boller, Smith or another quarterback wins the prominent role, wide receivers Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton won't see much movement in value. The same holds true for tight end Todd Heap, who will remain one of the team's top options in the pass attack regardless of who's under center. Should Harbaugh side with Smith or a rookie as his Week 1 starter, look for the team to lean on Willis McGahee out of the backfield. McGahee should be seen as a borderline No. 1 or 2 fantasy back in all fantasy formats.
McNair finishes his impressive NFL career with 31,304 passing yards and 211 total touchdowns. His 3,590 rushing yards is fifth all-time among quarterbacks, and his 37 rushing touchdowns ranks third all-time at the position. His 2,387 rushing yards from 1997-2001 also make him one of three quarterbacks (Randall Cunningham, Michael Vick) to rush for 2,350-plus yards over five seasons. McNair will also be remembered for battling through multiple injuries and producing some nice career totals for fantasy football owners.