With even more than the usual curiosity, chaos and confusion about quarterbacks as NFL teams try to set their 2017 rosters, The Sports Xchange cut through social media guesswork and went to professionals who know the realities about the players and teams involved.
Former NFL team executive Pat Kirwan and former NFL quarterback Jim Miller, who team up on the engaging Moving The Chains show on SiriusXM NFL Radio, revealed enlightening insight into the positives and negatives of the quarterbacks and teams involved.
The surprising opinions from these veteran insiders may shock some fans.
As free agency began Thursday, the quarterbacks causing the most commotion were:
--Tony Romo, long-time Dallas standout who lost his job to Dak Prescott and is expected to be released, if not traded, by the Cowboys.
--Kirk Cousins, hot off two prolific years in Washington, signed his second consecutive franchise deal Friday ($23.94 million) but word leaked out he did not want to sign long term with the Redskins if team president Bruce Allen was there.
--Jay Cutler, the controversial, strong-armed talent who was released by Chicago after eight years there.
--Jimmy Garoppolo, the talented third-year backup to 39-year-old legend Tom Brady with the Patriots, who say with a poker face that they are unwilling to trade the young star even as free agency awaits next season.
--Brock Osweiler, currently in Cleveland for an unknown period of time after being dumped there by Houston, along with a second-round 2018 draft pick and $16 million guaranteed. The dumping was exactly one year after the Texans bought the former Denver Broncos backup for a deal worth $72 million with $37 million guaranteed.
--Colin Kaepernick, who made Alex Smith (now in Kansas City) expendable in San Francisco in 2012 when Jim Harbaugh was the coach, but opted out of his 49ers contract March 3 after Kyle Shanahan was hired as head coach.
--Trevor Siemian, incumbent starter at Denver for the moment. He isn't causing a commotion, really, but may become collateral damage, depending on how thing play out.
Let's try to find order in this chaos one quarterback at a time, suggesting the best fit for all concerned. Well, for most of the concerned, anyway.
Best fit: Houston, Denver
--Kirwan: "The hottest quarterback of them all here."
--Miller: "Denver makes a lot of sense for Romo, but Houston has opened up. Denver has great defense, they are a win-now team, much like they were when John Elway signed Peyton Manning. Doctors say Romo is not a medical risk (after multiple back surgeries).
"That puts in motion Trevor Siemian being traded to the New York Jets. He proved he can win in the NFL and might settle down a lot of things for the Jets, then Elway can trade Siemian to the New York Jets. Jeremy Bates is the QB coach there, runs the West Coast they have in Denver."
--Kirwan: "Mike McCoy (Denver OC/QB 2009-2012; San Diego HC 2013-2016) new OC in Denver. This is not the West Coast offense anymore and will slow the growth of young players Siemian and Paxton Lynch. It is more of a pro-style system McCoy runs. I think Elway is ready to go forward with those two quarterbacks if they don't land Romo, but Romo is their best option to get to the Super Bowl."
--Miller on Houston: "Romo has no restrictions. He can play bootleg game, he can throw deep, he is accurate, he can scramble and get out of trouble. And how about audibles? This guy is well-versed at getting in and out of plays at the line of scrimmage. That is something paramount to head coach Bill O'Brien. That's what Tom Brady does in New England and something O'Brien wants in Houston. To me that would bring a lot if Houston were able to pull that off.
--Kirwan: "Romo's personality is perfect for Bill O'Brien. O'Brien has high expectations and when you don't meet them he's going to be confrontational. He was confrontational with Brady. I think Romo, of all the quarterbacks on the list, is the most ready to take somebody to the Super Bowl."
Note: Both Kirwan and Miller doubt that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick will make a deal with O'Brien, his former assistant, especially involving an AFC team.
Best fit: Any good team, including staying put.
--Kirwan: "This is a guy that a lot of people would love to have. But he controls his own fate because he is not doing to do a deal with a team he doesn't want. So if Cleveland calls with all those picks and offers a lot (Browns have four picks in the first two rounds this year and next), he is still in control. He is a total West Coast quarterback. Kyle Shanahan wants him in San Francisco, but I think he is going to have to live with Bruce Allen."
--Miller: "Cousins should think about this. He has (head coach) Jay Gruden and (offensive coordinator) Matt Cavanaugh calling his plays and Cavanaugh was his quarterback coach the last two years when he threw for 4,200 and 4,900 yards. So he is the best that this franchise ever had and they will put talent around him. They just signed wide receiver Terrelle Pryor (from Cleveland).
"If Cousins has another great year he might get an Andrew Luck contract. I think Bruce and the team believe in him but he started slowly for two years and they just want to see more."
Best fit: Team with West Coast offense.
--Kirwan: "If you see him in shorts and work him out you are going to sign him because he is the best thrower since Jeff George, but he's not a great quarterback and he's got some issues."
--Miller:"First, he's coming off the torn labrum so a team must be sure about the medical. But in sheer talent, and there is the experience so he's got a lot of games under his belt. The team I would link him to would be the New York Jets because of (QB coach) Jeremy Bates and a West Coast offense he can pick up quickly. The leadership skills lag with Jay. You've got to push and prod him and don't have too many audibles because he struggles in that area. So you gotta be very good at calling the plays and just let him execute them. Jeremy Bates did that with Jay when they were in Denver with Mike Shanahan.
"I personally think he could help a team like Jacksonville. He'd be a backup there to Bortles. But it would put pressure on Bortles to play better. He would be looking over his shoulder at Jay Cutler. If they get the running game going like I think it will with (head coach) Doug Marrone, that will put a lot more pressure on Bortles, who they have yet to give that fifth-year option to. Chad Henne is putting no pressure on Bortles, but Cutler would."
Best fit: Houston or stay with Patriots.
--Kirwan: "I don't believe the Patriots one bit when they say they are not willing to move Garoppolo. They are just pushing up the price."
--Miller:"Garoppolo is an accurate passer, strong arm, more mobile than Brady and has no restrictions. He actually can do more or different things than they would ask of Brady. He is smart, has been coached well and makes great decisions.
"Houston would be great for Garoppolo but I don't know if Belichick would make a deal with his old friend O'Brien. He could fit into any offense."
Best fit: Cleveland.
--Kirwan: "They just gave this guy $16 mill guaranteed and they are going to cut him or trade him? I'm not buying that. ... If I'm Cleveland this may be my best option. They are not getting Garoppolo. They should hold onto this guy and see if (head coach) Hue Jackson can coach him. He has a winning record as a starting quarterback (13-8 career; 8-6 last year with Houston)."
--Miller: Hue Jackson likes strong-armed quarterbacks. He brought in Jason Campbell and Carson Palmer in Oakland. I think it would be ridiculous to get rid of him. But a place I think would be best for Osweiler would be as a backup in Buffalo. Cardale Jones is not ready to play. The new offense is under (coordinator) Rick Dennison, who was in Denver in 2015 and knows all about Brock. To me, he could be a backup to Tyrod Taylor who had an injury history already in his second year as a starter."
Colin Kaepernick and RG3
Best fit: Unknown.
--Kirwan:"Who in the NFL is running an offense that plays to Kaepernick's skills and needs a quarterback? He has deteriorated in his skills. Coaches know all his traits, he flushes to his left, he just makes a lot of mistakes out there, he throws a hard ball and he's got his issues off the field. He may be on emergency lists and if somebody needs a quarterback at some point, maybe, but I don't see an offense that needs his skill set."
--Miller:"I don't think there's a market for Kaepernick. He's very limited. He can't make all the throws. Touch throws are completely out with him. I guess he's a possibility with the Jets if everything else falls through.
"And I don't see a market for RG3. Who wants a guy who gets hurt so easily? He is also limited in what he can do and he can't stay healthy. Both those guys wouldn't be on my list."