It is very difficult to find a capable quarterback in free agency. Generally speaking, the National Football League is a place where good signal-callers get snatched up via the draft and occasionally trade. Men who hit the open market are either washed up or not talented enough in most cases, with the Peyton Manning saga of 2012 being a massive outlier.
This year, we see another crop of seemingly mediocre quarterbacks becoming available. For teams in need of a backup, the market is saturated with capable players. For those desperately searching for a starter, they will hope for a surprising renaissance of a career.
Here are the top five options for a team scouring the free-agent list:
5. Jason Campbell
Campbell is the typical veteran who can come in and play decent football. At 33 years old, Campbell has bounced all over the NFL after being drafted by the Washington Redskins in the first round in 2005. Campbell has been on four teams in the past four seasons, playing in 2014 for the Cincinnati Bengals. In 2013, Campbell played nine games for the Cleveland Browns and amassed 2,015 yards and 11 touchdowns against eight interceptions. Best case scenario, Campbell plays like Kyle Orton did this year for the Buffalo Bills.
4. Matt Moore
Moore is certainly not a long-term answer, but could be a bridge to the future. Moore, 30, has been in the league seven seasons, spending the first three with the Carolina Panthers before joining the Miami Dolphins. Moore has made appearances in 40 games, getting the bulk of his action in 2011. Moore threw for 2,497 yards in 13 games, completed 60.5 percent of his throws and tossed 16 touchdowns against nine interceptions. Moore is a risk, but at least has a track record of being competent.
3. Jake Locker
Locker is a former first-round pick of the Tennessee Titans and only 26 years old. The problem has been Locker’s health and at times, erratic play. Locker has never played more than 11 games in a season and only 14 combined over the last two campaigns. Accuracy has always been a problem, with Locker’s career completion percentage sitting at 57.5. Locker has never been surrounded with great weapons or an elite offensive line, so he’s worth taking a flier on for a team in need.
2. Ryan Mallett
Why is Mallett so high on the list? Because he represents some hope in his untapped potential. Mallett is only 26 years old and played in three games last year for the Houston Texans after getting no real action through three seasons with the New England Patriots. Mallett could turn out to be another forgettable quarterback, or he could blossom into a real starter. If Mallett can find consistent mechanics he could become a viable player, already featuring a big body and strong arm.
1. Brian Hoyer
Hoyer is not a franchise quarterback, but he does enough to get his team into a playoff spot. Hoyer, 29, finally got a chance to start in the NFL after languishing for five years with the Patriots, Cardinals and Browns. In 2014, Hoyer played in 13 games, throwing for 3,326 yards and 12 touchdowns, albeit with 13 interceptions. Hoyer has warts, including turnovers and a poor completion percentage (55.3 in 2014). Still, he could be similar to Matt Cassel, a guy good enough to win a division with top-notch talent around him.