by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
As is often the case in the NFL, the upcoming free agent QB class is light on talent. If you are a franchise quarterback you are locked up to a long-term deal, because you are the centerpiece of the franchise. That generally leaves retreads, has beens and never weres among the options available.
This season could be a little different, as there are actually potentially intriguing names who could hit the free agent market. While we are going to ignore Andy Dalton, for now (it’s much easier to see him signing an extension), the most intriguing name who could be available is the Titans’ Jake Locker.
He’s consistently missed time due to injuries, as he’s been limited to 23 games over his three NFL seasons. Last season it was a foot injury that derailed him, which was a shame as he had finally shown signs of life.
In 7 games he had completed 60.7% of his passes, throwing for 1,256 yards, 8 TD and 4 INT. He had been playing even better than that, with 6 TD and 0 INT over his first four games (all of his INT came in his final three). There is hope here, and the Titans have also improved the talent around him.
While it didn’t necessarily come in the receiving corps, the addition of Taylor Lewan with their first round pick and the addition of Michael Oher via free agency helps to improve the offensive line. They also subtracted Kenny Britt, while also jettisoning Chris Johnson. In Johnson’s place comes Bishop Sankey, another 2014 draft pick, who should help give the team a spark (as it was clear Johnson was no longer a back defenses focused on).
An improvement in the running game is definitely important, as is the emergence of Kendall Wright (we talked about him in detail, which you can view by clicking here). The Titans have long been a team with numerous receiving options, but no one clearly on top. Wright could be that player (94 receptions in 2013), with Nate Washington and Justin Hunter (potential TD machine) completing a solid trio. Throw in Delanie Walker, who can make plays at TE, and the offense has definite upside.
Locker has been put in a position to succeed, the question is if he can stay healthy and deliver. He will likely be waiver wire fodder or a deep QB2 (depending on your format), but he’s not one to ignore. He has a contract on the line and talent around him. That makes him a gamble worth taking.
Others who could be intriguing:
- Ryan Mallett – New England Patriots – We’ve heard Tom Brady’s backup be rumored in trade talks, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see a team in need give him a shot. Regardless, someone will be willing to roll the dice in 2015.
- Brian Hoyer – Cleveland Browns – He showed ability last season, before getting hurt. With Johnny Manziel the QB of the future, he’s likely to leave Cleveland if another team buys into what he’s shown before.
- Alex Smith – Kansas City Chiefs – He’s a game manager more than anything. If Kansas City decides to turn the page, would it be surprising to see him ultimately land as a backup?
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Make sure to check out all of our 2014 rankings: