Half of the time I sit down to write the posts is because I have a question that I can't find the answer to. More times than not, a little research and reflection gives me what I was looking for, and hopefully helps you guys out along the way. I admit it. I'm a selfish blogger. The question on my mind at the moment is, just how many realistic destinations are there for a veteran QB? Figuring this out will help anticipate what kind of competition the Seahawks will be facing, since they are clearly one of the teams in the market for QB help.
Let's first list the teams that have a clear starter, and have absolutely no reason to sign a starting-caliber QB (in no particular order):
1) New England Patriots
2) New Orleans Saints
3) Green Bay Packers
4) Indianapolis Colts
5) NY Giants
6) NY Jets
7) Pittsburgh Steelers
8) St. Louis Rams (ugh)
9) Houston Texans
10) San Diego Chargers
11) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
12) Atlanta Falcons
13) Kansas City Chiefs
14) Philadelphia Eagles
15) Baltimore Ravens
Next, let's list teams that are highly unlikely to go after a starting-caliber QB:
16) Dallas Cowboys
17) Denver Broncos
18) Chicago Bears
19) Carolina Panthers
20) Cleveland Browns
21) Detroit Lions
22) Jacksonville Jaguars
That leaves 10 teams. Let's examine each of those teams to determine which have the greatest need, listed in ascending order of need:
#10 Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals "have" Carson Palmer. More importantly, they drafted a player in Andy Dalton who they believe can play right away. They also drafted rookie WR AJ Green, so it makes some sense for them to begin rebuilding right now.
#9 San Francisco 49ers
This one is a little bit of a cheat. The truth is, they are in the market for a starting QB, but considering Coach Harbaugh has already been openly positive about Alex Smith and even went as far as giving him a playbook before signing him, there seems to be a love connection there. That takes them off the list.
#8 Oakland Raiders
The Raiders would be open to a new QB, but they have a couple of mediocre signal callers that are capable of getting them to the playoffs. The situation is not desperate, and bringing in a player like Matt Hasselbeck would be odd. These are the Raiders, though...
#7 Buffalo Bills
Ryan Fitzpatrick was similar to the Raiders QBs. He was good enough to not be the major problem on the team. The team surrounding him is not good enough to be a veteran QB away from contending. They likely re-enter the Andrew Luck sweepstakes next season.
#6 Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins might convince themselves they are a quality starter away from contending, but more likely, they continue to build with youth. Chad Henne is probably not the answer, but bringing in a veteran for a couple of years makes very little long-term sense.
#5 Seattle Seahawks
Remember, this is ranking a team's need for a starting-caliber veteran QB. As much as many of us may disagree, the Seahawks believe they have a player they could run out as a starter in Charlie Whitehurst. They could choose to sign a veteran back-up, and elevate Charlie. Whitehurst is not a rookie, so there's nothing to keep the team from putting this on his shoulders other than having two functioning eyes and a brain.
#4 Tennessee Titans
The team could decide to run Jake Locker out there right away or even sign familiar face Kerry Collins to play for a year. More likely, the front office will want to get a player like Hasselbeck in the fold who can play well, and be a terrific mentor for Locker.
#3 Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings could choose to run with Christian Ponder, or play Tavaris Jackson or Joe Webb. The talent of this team is old enough that waiting for Ponder to develop does not make a lot of sense. They will probably want to bring in someone who is a proven playoff QB right away. It has worked for them with Favre, and they will probably try to recapture that magic one more time before rebuilding with Ponder.
#2 Washington Redskins
The Redskins have to sign somebody that can start, but it is not clear they are going to go hard after a playoff-caliber starter. The team is pretty suspect, and I don't think Shanahan is interested in adding an older vet. A guy like Kyle Orton or Kevin Kolb that is young enough to still build around are more logical fits.
#1 Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals stars, Adrian Wilson, Darnell Dockett, and Larry Fitzgerald are either at their prime, or past it. This team has every right to think it is a quality quarterback away from recapturing the division and making some noise in the playoffs. The rumor about Marc Bulger seems a little odd. Bulger has not been good for some time. Hasselbeck would appear to be the perfect fit. He's tighter with players on that team than any other than team outside of Seattle. He's won in the playoffs as recently as a few months ago, and Arizona is not all that far from Seattle. Not to mention, Hasselbeck would get at least one game in Seattle each year for some extra family time.
Not all of these teams in the Top 5 are looking for the same type of veteran. A team like Seattle or Washington could be after their next franchise guy. Players like Kolb and Orton make a little more sense there. Minnesota and Arizona believe they are a good QB away from contending. Tennessee and Minnesota (again) have their future franchise QBs, and any veteran signing would be a short-term play, so Kolb wouldn't make sense. If Seattle signs Hasselbeck at this point, the front office is officially delaying the search for the next franchise QB another season. I'm not sure that fits Pete Carroll's M.O.
Carroll sees a hole and wants to fill it. Hasselbeck can only play for another year or two at best. Without a young QB to groom on the roster, that puts the front office behind the eight-ball as soon as next year again. The more logical play would be to go after a player like Carson Palmer or Kevin Kolb. Palmer is five years younger than Hasselbeck and gives the front office more breathing room to find Mr. Right. Kolb would be the perfect fit as he would be Mr. Right. I still personally prefer Orton to Palmer due to age and recent productivity, but all is quiet on that front.
It took writing this post to realize that going without a QB in the draft this weekend probably sealed the deal on Hasselbeck leaving Seattle. Sports radio is generally feeling the opposite. Their logic is that Matt is all the more valuable to come back and contribute right away. The problem with that logic is that Matt will be far more valuable to other teams, and signing him does little to stabilize the Seahawks QB position beyond this year. Nobody would be happier to see Hasselbeck return, but odds are he'll be a Cardinal, a Titan or a Viking come next season.