As usual, the NFL draft reminded us of the power of the quarterback.
With four signal callers taken in the first round by the 12th pick and a total of six by the 36th, it drove home the point that teams in this league will take risks to get better at the most important position. What is interesting is that, even with all the QBs drafted last week, upwards of eight teams still need to fortify the position, and many of them will turn to the free-agent/trade market when we resume normal business.
With starting jobs available around the league, I have to smile when I hear teams that just drafted a quarterback say things like they still want to sign a veteran to pave the way. Any veteran with aspirations to be a true starter and not just a baby sitter isn't going to like the scenario of setting up the rookie.
Tough draft for free-agent linemen
Remember when Kurt Warner was a New York Giant in 2004 and had his team battling for a playoff spot, when all of a sudden he was benched so then-rookie Eli Manning could get seven starts? I don't blame the Giants for wanting to get Manning's feet wet, because it did lead to a guy who hasn't missed a game since and eventually won a Super Bowl championship, but it did leave Warner scrambling the following year. I would be surprised if Donovan McNabb, Matt Hasselbeck or Marc Bulger wants to get into that kind of situation if they can help it.
Keep in mind that even if it comes down to a trade for a quarterback like Kevin Kolb, the player controls the trade. Kolb has one year left on his contract with the Philadelphia Eagles and no team is going to surrender potential first-round compensation unless they get a long-term extension with Kolb. If Kolb doesn't want to go to a certain team, he will not authorize an extension. As long as more than one team has real interest in Kolb, the Eagles should get the compensation they want, and Kolb should be able to arrive at a deal.
But if Carson Palmer or Kyle Orton ever emerge as trade commodities, everything could change for Kolb. A team interested in Palmer would not have to get a long-term deal done with him since he has four years left on his contract, but Orton, who only has one year left on his deal, could be a different story. If Palmer is in the mix and wound up at Seattle, then Hasselbeck will be in the mix with another team.
The point is, there could be enough quarterbacks around this offseason to satisfy all the teams still in need of one. And when the 2011 season finally begins, I expect to see Kolb, Palmer, Hasselbeck, McNabb, with maybe Orton and Bulger, in different uniforms under center.