Breaking Down the NFL Quarterback Carousel


The latter part of the free agency period saw several quarterbacks find new homes. Kevin Kolb signed a two year, $13 million dollar contract with the Buffalo Bills to take over for the recently departed Ryan Fitzpatrick. Matt Flynn was traded from the Seattle Seahawks to the Oakland Raiders  for a fifth round draft pick in 2014 and a conditional late-round pick in 2015. Carson Palmer was subsequently jettisoned from Oakland along with a seventh round pick to Arizona in exchange for a 2013 sixth-round pick and a conditional seventh-round pick in 2014. All these quarterbacks were in desperate need of a fresh start and each will now get just that with a new team. In today’s bonus article, we break down each move and discuss its dynasty implications.

Sept. 30, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb (4) prior to the game against the Miami Dolphins at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

In Buffalo, Kolb finds himself as the favorite to be the starter in week one. At this point, the only real competition would come from Tarvaris Jackson and that’s a battle Kolb should win rather easily based on talent alone.  He was a disaster in Arizona, starting just 14 games in two years after signing a a six-year, $65 million contract. It’s fair to wonder if Kolb’s confidence has been shaken to the point of no return. After being beaten down by defenses taking advantage of an atrocious offensive line in Arizona, he displayed “happy feet” in the pocket and looked more concerned about being hit than finding open receivers. Kolb will need to quickly get his confidence back if he’s to do anything in Buffalo.

The Bills will likely draft a quarterback highly in the upcoming draft and use Kolb as a short term solution. If he can indeed regain his old form, he’s good enough to at least maintain the value of Stevie Johnson and the supporting cast of the Bills. Make no mistake, this offense is going to revolve around CJ Spiller and Kolb should be able to keep defenses as honest as they were with Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm. Kolb has the ability to be a low-end QB2, but he shouldn’t be taken as anything more than a QB3 in most dynasty leagues – he has much to prove before he can be trusted.

In Oakland, Matt Flynn should finally get his chance to shine as long as he can beat out Terrelle Pryor for the starting spot. Flynn’s claim to fame has been a few solid preseasons in Green Bay and a week 17 beatdown against the Lions in 2011 that featured him going 31-of-44 for 480 yards and six touchdowns in a meaningless game. All we know for certain when it comes to Flynn is that he isn’t better than Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson. Unfortunately, that doesn’t tell us much since very few (if any) quarterbacks are.

Flynn finds himself with a decent offenisve cast featuring Darren McFadden, Denarius Moore, Rod Streater and Jacoby Ford among others. He isn’t known for his elite arm strength, so it’s reasonable to be concerned about players like Moore and Ford going forward. However, much like Kolb in Buffalo, Flynn is essentially playing on a one year, “prove it” deal as he has no guaranteed money on the books for 2014. If he plays well, he could work himself into a long-term deal. If he doesn’t he’ll be looking for work as a backup again next season. Flynn could be rostered as a high-end QB3 or low-end QB2 with upside.

Nov 25, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer (3) before the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Finally, the Cardinals went out of their way to secure the services of Carson Palmer before the Raiders cut him and allowed him to sign elsewhere. Palmer is a shell of his former self after injuries have taken their toll, but he was pretty good last year as he posted 4,018 passing yards, 22 touchdowns and 14 interceptions for the Raiders. Those stats are somewhat inflated since much of his numbers came in garbage time, but in dynasty leagues, we’ll take them any way we can get them. After all, the Cardinals are looking at a lot of garbage time this next season.

The signing of Palmer in Arizona can only mean good things for Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts and Michael Floyd. While he has a tendency to float some passes and make some bad decisions, Palmer is a huge upgrade over the likes of John Skelton, Ryan Lindley and Kolb. If you own any of the skill players in Arizona, it’s a short term upgrade for sure. Palmer has the ability to put up high end QB2, inf not low-end QB1 numbers next season. There’s no doubt Larry Fitzgerald is the best receiver he’ll have ever played with. No offense, Chad.

The concern with Palmer really doesn’t involve his injuries or inconsistency – at this point, it’s fair to question the offensive line woes in Arizona and even his desire to play. The line needs  a huge upgrade and it’s widely expected the Cardinals attempt to address it through the upcoming draft. It’s even more of a question regarding Palmer’s mental state. He cut down his money to come to Arizona, but it was also rumored he was fine signing on as a backup to play somewhere else like Tampa Bay. It’s fair to wonder how he may react to being beaten to a pulp by opposing defenses in the NFC West like Seattle and San Francisco after he basically quit on his last two teams. As is the case with the other quarterbacks in this article, Palmer is going to need to prove he has something left in the tank both physically and mentally to avoid being a one year option in the desert.

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