There was a lively discussion started around 6:30 AM this morning on Twitter regarding what options, outside of the draft, there are for the Seahawks at the QB position heading into next season. Carson Palmer's name was thrown out first, and before it was done, half-a-dozen names were tossed out there. Deciding the future of the QB position will define the Carroll era in Seattle, and the potential of the team for years to come. Drafting a stud QB to groom is always the best option, but it is not something that is always possible. Trading for near-ready vet is a close second. The most likely scenario is that the Seahawks will choose a vet to start for at least 2011, and possibly 2012 while also drafting a prospect that can be developed. Let's take a look at the options available to Carroll and Schneider heading into this off-season.
YOUNG & TALENTED (Guys that could step in next season and start for 7-10 years)
Kevin Kolb (Philadelphia)
I have already covered Kolb, in some depth, but he is the only player in this category that would come without baggage.
Matt Leinart (Houston)
Leinart is not as great of a prospect as Kolb, but has an attractive blend of youth (still 27), price, and experience. He will be a free agent, and signing him could make for an interesting in-division swap if Hasselbeck ended up signing with Arizona.
Vince Young (Tennessee)
Young would come with a ton of baggage, but Carroll knows first-hand that he's a career winner. He left the field this year with a 98.6 QB rating, is 27, and should be available on the cheap. Schneider already proved he can trade with the Titans, which matters more than you'd think.
Matt Flynn (Green Bay)
Flynn is a late add after torching the Patriots for a 100.2 QB rating @ NE. He's 25, and Schneider should know him well from his days at GB.
Colt McCoy (Cleveland)
McCoy is not likely to be available after having a strong rookie season, but the Browns may find another QB they like better in the draft, or even trade for one of the other guys in this list who can jump-start their turnaround, like Kolb. Holmgren is not usually in a rush to trade young QBs, but might feel compelled to do so if he has to trade away assets to get another one. McCoy has a solid 81.9 rating in his rookie season.
OLD & TALENTED (Guys that could hold down the fort for a playoff-contending team until a younger player was ready)
Carson Palmer (Cincinnati)
Palmer has more interceptions than Matt Hasselbeck this season, but is five years younger and still possesses the cannon arm that made him a top draft pick. He also has 25 TD passes to keep that TD/INT ratio in the positive. Palmer has USC ties with Carroll, and would appear to be a good fit for Bates' system, if there is such a thing as a good fit for Bates' "system." It's not clear the Bengals are looking to trade him, and fans should be careful about looking purely at stats. It would year one in a new system for Palmer for the first time in ages. Result will vary.
Kyle Orton (Denver)
Orton almost makes the young list, checking in at a shocking 28 years-old. It feels like the guy has been around forever. The Broncos are going in another direction, so Orton should be available. His contract runs through 2011. This is a guy with an 87.5 rating and a 20/9 TD/INT ratio. He is smart and accurate. I can't stand him for some reason, but have to respect his resume.
Matt Hasselbeck (Seattle)
Many will debate whether he fits in this category. I have no hesitation of putting him here. The stars are aligning against the franchise's best quarterback of all-time finishing his career in Seattle, but there are plenty of logical reasons why he might be the wisest choice. He wants to be back and he is the only QB on this list that would be entering his second season with these receivers and offensive coordinator.
Donovan McNabb (Washington)
McNabb is 34 and, according to Trent Dilfer, has been terrible this season. Not just bad...terrible. Getting McNabb would feel like change for change sake. He has won in big spots for a long time, so who knows?
Eli Manning (New York Giants)
Manning might be a surprise add to this list, but at 29 years-old, and continuing to struggle with the interception (24 this year!), the Giants may look to get something for him while he has value and start fresh.
OLD STOPGAPS (Guys that could hold down the fort, but are unlikely playoff QBs)
Jon Kitna (Dallas)
Old Jonny boy sports a sterling 88.9 rating this season at the creaky age of 38. He signed through 2013, but would have to be available on the cheap at his age.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (Buffalo)
He's ten years younger than Kitna, but is having a "breakthrough" season with a pedestrian 81.8 rating. He might have some upside in him, but he's done little to make me think he's a legit starter on a winning team.
Jason Campbell (Oakland)
Campbell is a solid passer with a career 82.5 rating. He's 28, and signed through 2011. This guy won't lead you to a title, but could get you to the playoffs.
YOUNG & UNPREDICTABLE (Guys that are prospects with high risk, possible high reward)
Jimmy Clausen (Carolina)
Carolina would be wise to draft a QB if they find one to their liking in round one. Clausen has been mostly bad in his rookie year, but has gained valuable experience. Buyer beware on this guy.
Dennis Dixon (Pittsburgh)
Dixon is an intriguing prospect. He stepped in while Dick Ben was serving his suspension and played well. He's a fantastic athlete and is a free agent after this season. The Steelers are not likely to go hard after him while the other guy is still around.
Chad Henne (Miami)
At only 25, Henne could be worth a look. He was once considered the long-term option for the Dolphins, but has fallen out of favor with a 18 picks this season. He shows flashes of talent and poise. He is signed through 2012, but should be available for a modest sum.
Brady Quinn (Denver)
Quinn's career came and went so fast, many have forgotten that he still is in the league. Buried in the Broncos depth chart, this guy is still only two years removed from being a first round pick. He is most likely a bust, but would be a cheap add and would be more interesting as a backup than Whitehurst who we already know has nothing to offer in the long run.
JaMarcus Russell (Free Agent)
Russell was on the John Clayton show a month or so back, and is said to be working hard on a comeback. He was beyond awful in Oakland, both on the field and off it. He is a freak athlete who could be a major steal if he ever got his act together. It is hard to believe a guy with his accuracy problems could ever pan out.
I'll take a look at the draft options after the season concludes. Only 1-2 players could successfully play in their rookie year. Most will need to sit out at least one season.