You asked for it, now you shall have it. A comprehensive listing of prominent NFL free agents by individual playing position. We'll start with what is easily the most prolific position in the league, the passer.
Let's be honest; the Jets said they were going to sign someone to "push" Sanchez, (although to be fair they say a lot of things that wind up being a total load) but frankly there is a very small contingent in this free agent pool that adequately fills that need, and even those candidates are highly debatable.
The problem with signing a backup QB is that they are automatically from a lower tier of performers. The ones that excel or are even passable are likely to get starting opportunities, like Matt Flynn. Taking the next step down and picking up the likes of Orton or Campbell undermines Sanchez and makes the crowd demand the backup take over at the first sign of stress. That wouldn't be a problem, but I think very few of these names would be a decisive improvement, if any. I question how serious any competition will be in the offseason.
I think the best Quarterbacks will look elsewhere first, but the almighty dollar always wins. With all of that said, here is the list of preliminary free agent QBs after the jump. Not included is Drew Brees. Brees is technically a Free Agent this offseason, but you and I both know he's not leaving the New Orleans Saints.
List of QB's with my top twelve in terms of perceived desirability for the player after the jump. Tell us who you like at QB in the FA pool below.
#1. Matt Flynn (GB)
While not a household name, much of the NFL following world came to know Flynn through his performance in relief of MVP Aaron Rodgers last season, which was impressive to say the least. While Flynn is easily the biggest name in the market, many rightfully question whether or not Flynn's very limited sample of success is the product of both a great offensive scheme as well as superior receiving options. We now know how great Flynn is in garbage time with one of the best offenses in ages at his disposal. What we don't know is how he would fare under center for a team like the Jets.
Flynn will be a starter somewhere, even if just because of a great team bumping him in value, much like Matt Cassel. For that reason I say he signs somewhere else where he won't have to compete with an incumbent.
#2. Kyle Orton (KC via DEN)
At this point the QB with the strongest market demand depends entirely on who you ask. There's a pretty big drop off after Flynn and I'm not even sure about him. Orton is the poster child for mediocre passers who are on the cusp of starting. He has lots of starting experience but no team seems interested in keeping him long term. I think when it all shakes out this offseason, Orton will likely get another chance to at least compete for a starting job if he isn't straight up handed one. A competition with Orton and Sanchez would be a race to the middle with whoever stinks it up the least getting it. When the Jets say they are bringing in someone to push Sanchez, I doubt they'll invest the money in a cusp guy like Orton.
#3. Alex Smith (SF)
While some might believe Smith should be higher, I argue the only reason he makes number three on my list is because his teams deep playoff run bumps his market value in a weak FA class of capable passers. Smith was pretty awful for large stretches of the NFC championship game this last season. You have to believe that the Niners FO watched that game and saw a glaring weakness under center, because most everyone else really carried the load. I'm not saying one game should drive us away from Smith, but the 49'ers have been reluctant to commit to Smith for years now, switching him out for a handful of other QB's but ultimately dropping him back under center due to lack of options.
Smith probably gives me the most pause out of any free agent.
#4. Jason Campbell (OAK)
Campbell has starting potential. Arguably he could be #2 on this list but I'm betting Orton and Smith will be more widely pursued. I think until a long term solution comes along, Carson Palmer will be under center for the Oakland Raiders for the near future, given the investment they have made. Campbell is probably the most capable and realistic person to start if Sanchez tanks the next season. Very similar to Sanchez in terms of erratic performances. I feel like putting Jason under Center would be a step sideways or even backwards. Most of the options in this pool present that issue.
#5. Chad Henne (MIA)
We're starting to descend from possible starter territory into capable backup land. It's a matter of debate as to whether or not Henne ever got a fair shake in Miami. I think it's crystal clear now that not only is Mark Sanchez a better QB than Chad, but so is Matt Moore. Chad might be a bit of a push for Sanchez, and a good backup, but I'm afraid of what happens if he takes the starting job one day.
#6. TIE - David Garrard and Donovan McNabb (JAC - MIN)
Two long tenured starters who just kind of faded from the league last year, which is a disappointing possible end for both of them. Garrard has somewhat balanced play and I could see him being a very effective backup, but I think his desire is to start. This could make for a fierce competition that Sanchez could very well lose, if that's what the Jets FO wants.
McNabb has just looked awful, and teams have been labeling him as lazy and a diva. After watching him play for years, I don't want to be completely closed to McNabb, but I'm not sure how much he has left. As far as sinking vets go, I say Garrard is the far better option to kick the tires.
#7. Shaun Hill (DET)
Well, he isn't Mark Brunell. Hill still has something left in the tank and might give Sanchez a serious run for his money. The Detroit Lions may also wish to retain someone who could carry an offense should Matthew Stafford have any ailments in the future. In terms of value per dollars, Hill isn't a bad buy.
#8. Brady Quinn (DEN)
For all the talk surrounding Brady Quinn hitting the market, he hasn't really shown me much of anything. It's pretty telling when you sit behind a guy with an accuracy in the mid to low 40's. Quinn hasn't been able to last anywhere and if the Broncos decide to let him go, I don't think he'd be much of a push for Sanchez. If Brady Quinn can challenge Sanchez, it's time to let Mark go.
#9. Rex Grossman (WAS)
Gross, man. Sexy Rexy couldn't push an empty shopping cart. He's not as bad as I'm making him out to be, but I really don't want him in the backup role here. Or really any role. He's just not an effective QB and he leads losing teams.
#10. Vince Young (PHI)
Didn't look that great in Philly when he had a shot. Pretty much nobody is talking about him. Young never really proved himself a starter, and I don't think he's an ideal hire for the Jets. He's demonstrated mobility in the past that would be interesting to have, but I just don't think Young is good enough to challenge Sanchez.
#11. Josh Johnson (TB)
I've always wanted to like Johnson, cousin of Marshawn Lynch. The young QB has upside and has filled in capably, but he falls short. Johnson looks pretty good sometimes, but for every TD he passes, he throws two picks. His ratings and accuracy hover around the high 50 low 60 range. Probably not a viable option.
#12. Kellen Clemens (STL)
I know, I know. Doesn't make much sense to bring the guy Sanchez originally beat out for the starting job back to push him. It's worth noting that when the Rams picked up Clemens he had less than two weeks to learn their offense, and still walloped the Bengals with a 95.7 passer rating and accuracy nearing 70 percent. In three games Kellen posted 52 percent accuracy and a 73.8 passer rating against the Bengals, Steelers, and 49'ers. Food for thought in a pretty shallow talent pool.
Some older vets you might want to consider:
Dark Horses/Everyone Else:
Dennis Dixon, Chris Redman, Kyle Boller, Charlie Whitehurst; Dan Orlovsky, Byron Leftwich, Sage Rosenfels, Derek Anderson; Drew Stanton, JP Losman, Caleb Hanie, Luke McCown; Josh McCown, A.J. Feeley. Jets QB Mark Brunell and Kevin O'Connell potentially face free agency as well (or retirement). Chad Pennington is expected to retire. Other RFA's/exclusive players include Tyler Palko, Brian Hoyer, Max Hall, Richard Bartel, and Chase Daniel.