Let's talk about the Seahawks quarterback situation!
It would be an understatement to say that talking about what the Hawks should do with the quarterback position turns fans into bickering neighbors and can sometimes lead to flame wars. It would be an overstatement to say that it turns us into flesh-eating zombies, picking apart each others corpses for morsels of brain and innards. But the latter would certainly be more interesting.
What most of us can agree on: Tarvaris Jackson is not the quarterback of the future. Not all of us can agree on that, but I think the fair majority would say that T-Jack is more Mr. Right Now than he is Mr. Right. I do think that Jackson is plenty good enough to serve as a 2012 stopgap should Seattle decide to draft their QBOTF this year. But if he shows any semblance of developing into great quarterback beyond that, it would be quite a surprise to me.
There is the crowd that wants to draft a QB, no matter the cost, and Field Gulls has and will continue to address those options.
Then there is the crowd that says the future resides somewhere on the free agent or trade market. Is it going to be Matt Flynn? Peyton Manning? I hear Charlie Whitehurst is a free agent.
By now you may have picked up on the fact that when I write articles like this, I try to give you just the facts, ma'am. I rarely make bold declarations one way or the other, mostly because I'm doing research that will help us all get a better understanding of what history tells us. History is fascinating, telling, and holds very little doubt.
History is to accuracy as I am to self-loathing; absolute.
So what can recent history tell us about teams that found their quarterback on the free agent or trade market as opposed to the draft? How many of them won a Super Bowl because of it?
Let's take a look....
Brett Favre - NYJ/MIN
When Favre finally parted ways with the Packers, it was the New York Jets that first took a crack at seeing if those Wranglers had any fight left in them in 2008. They started the season 3-3, but won five straight games in the middle of the year, including a 34-31 OT win at New England. However, Favre was awful down the stretch (reportedly because of an injury that the Jets didn't disclose) and New York lost four of their last five to miss the playoffs. The greatest impact Favre made in New York wasn't what he did on the field, but what he did on the phone.
Favre's next stop was in Minnesota (a place that also wasn't satisfied with Tarvaris) and he had possibly the greatest season of his career in 2009, throwing 33 touchdowns against an un-Favrelike 7 interceptions, leading the Vikings to a 10-1 start. They finished 12-4, but blew out the Cowboys in the divisional round. They lost an OT heart-breaker to the Saints in the NFC Championship. The next season would be a forgettable one.
Success Level - Some. The Jets were nearly playoff contenders, but collapsed down the stretch. The Vikings had one uber-successful season, but 2010 was terrible and they found their QBOTF Christian Ponder in the following draft.
Much more after the jump..
Chad Pennington - MIA
On a much smaller scale, but related to the Favre situation, is Pennington. He left New York when Favre entered, and the Dolphins snatched him up to be a part of the Wildcat. Pennington was accurate, as he always was, and the Dolphins won the AFC East over the Jets and Patriots at 11-5. However, they lost to the Ravens in the first round of the playoffs and Pennington was Mr. Injury again in 2009.
Mr. Injury is the sequel I wrote to the Ellen DeGeneres smash hit, Mr. Wrong. Remember when Ellen was an actress?
Success Level - Some. Nobody expected much out of the low-key acquisition, but it panned out for one season.
Steve McNair - BAL
When McNair left the Titans and asked to be traded to the Ravens in 2006, it was only two years after he shared co-MVP honors with Manning and he was "only" 33 years old. Baltimore won a franchise record 13 games in the regular season, while McNair was good (not spectacular) and lost in the divisional round to the Colts, 16-5.
The next season would be his last. He only made 6 starts, throwing 2 touchdowns against 6 interceptions, and the Ravens went 5-11.
Success Level - Some. It worked out for a year, but with that Ravens defense, maybe even Kyle Boller could have worked out. No offense to McNair though, who is obviously better than Boller. They acquired their QBOTF Joe Flacco in the following draft.
Matt Schaub - HOU
The first of the "backups traded to be starters" quarterbacks on this list, somewhat like the Flynn situation. The Texans gave up two 2nd round picks (and moved the Falcons up two spots in the first) to acquire Schaub and then signed him to a six-year, $48 million contract. (Atlanta used the picks on starting guard Justin Blalock and used the pick to move up in 2008 to draft tackle Sam Baker.)
Five years into the contract, the Texans are 32-32 when Schaub starts, he had an outstanding 2009 season (first and only career Pro Bowl) with a QB rating of 94 in his career in Houston with 92 touchdowns against 52 interceptions. People can say "but he has Andre Johnson and a running game blah blah blah" but first of all, he's a good quarterback and plenty of great wide receivers have shitty quarterbacks and second of all, don't use "blah blah blah" in your argument. I can't even tell what you're saying.
However, the Texans only just made the playoffs for the first time this year and that was partly thanks to the fact that Peyton missed the season. Schaub missed the last six games and the playoffs, the third time in five years that he missed significant time with injury.
Success Level - Some. Schaub is good. He was a good acquisition, but the first two years developed slowly and he's missed significant time with injuries.
Matt Hasselbeck - SEA/TEN
We know the story of Hasselbeck in Seattle, back when he was the "trade for a promising backup" kind of acquisition.
This past year he became the "sign a veteran stopgap" acquisition, and in many ways performed almost at the same level as Tarvaris did this season. Hasselbeck has the mind, experience, know-how to get him by in the NFL currently. Jackson has the arm, but without Matt's level of decision-making to get him by. In the end, they nearly came out with equal value.
Success Level - For Seattle, high. His acquisition by the Titans wasn't meant to be more than a 1 or 2 year courtship and they fell a game short of the playoffs.
Carson Palmer - OAK
The Raiders sent a first round 2012 draft pick, and a conditional 2nd round 2013 pick that becomes a first if the Raiders make the AFC Championship game next year. There were some fans in Seattle that wished the Hawks had acquired Palmer in the offseason last year, but the likely cost would have been at least as high as the Raiders paid, but more likely it would have been even expensiver. (Expensiver isn't a word, but when ZOMG makes the dictionary, I should be allowed to say expensiver.)
The issue here is that fans still want the Carson Palmer that was the Heisman winner and first overall pick. The one that completed 67.8% of his passes with 32 touchdowns in 2005 and led the Bengals to an 11-5 record. Ignoring the Palmer that had his knee blown out by Kimo von Oelhoffen, just one of many assaults by the 2005 Steelers.
During his last five seasons in Cincinnati, Palmer was good. Not great. Simply good. Over 68 starts: 62.2%, 234 yards/game, 104 TD/70 INT, 7 Y/A, 85.6 rating, and the Bengals went 29-39. He twice threw 20 interceptions during a season. Palmer is a step above a player like Tarvaris Jackson, but he's a step below the very good quarterbacks in this league.
Success Level - Low to Tragic, when you consider the 1st and 2nd round picks given up plus his contract. The Raiders lost 4 of their last 5 games and missed the playoffs. Palmer just turned 32 in December.
Kyle Orton - DEN
A rare situation here in which a team traded away it's franchise QB because of internal controversy, and elected to go with a less-talented, but potentially nicer guy in Kyle Orton. He had mild success during his two years in Denver.
Success Level - Whatever. He wasn't expected to do anything and he probably performed above expectation levels, however, Orton still isn't a good QB. He's a great backup quarterback, not a franchise guy.
Jason Campbell - OAK
Very similar to Orton, in that the Raiders just needed someone to get them by. The Raiders gave up a fourth round pick and named Campbell starter, before benching him in favor of Bruce Gradkowski in week three. He came back to start the last ten games of the year and played decently enough to be the starter in 2011, until an injury forced the Raiders to go out and get Palmer.
Success Level - Mild. They didn't expect much. They didn't get much. However, the Raiders just started trading draft picks like they were candy, and draft picks are more valuable than candy if you are the GM of a football team. To most of us, we'd rather have candy. I don't know what I would personally do with a fourth round draft pick. Probably select the guy that was best at running my errands.
Matt Cassel - KC
He was a rare case of a backup that came in and performed well in a great situation. Mostly, backups are traded based on promise, and Cassel had 15 starts to show what he could do in New England. The Chiefs sent the #34 pick to the Pats for Cassel/Mike Vrabel, and signed him to a six-year, $62.7 million contract. They've already paid him $40.5 million for his services in three years.
Success Level - Low. You could make the argument that the Chiefs playoff run in 2010 is justification for acquiring Cassel, but in return I would make an argument that Cavemen was a better show than Darkwing Duck. There, now we've both made silly arguments. Cassel had a good season that year, with 27 touchdowns against 7 interceptions, but I guess you would call that the ultimate "game manager" situation (6.9 yards per attempt) during a ridiculously easy schedule before getting blown out in the first round of the playoffs. His first season there was not good. Last season was not good and he got hurt. And they've paid him a lot.
Trent Green - KC
Another story for the Chiefs acquiring a QB via trade came in 2001. Two years after winning a Super Bowl with the Rams, head coach Dick Vermeil took over the Chiefs and immediately traded for his former QB in St. Louis, Green. For the next 5 years, they worked together but failed to win a playoff game. Green had a few good seasons, but that was all.
Success Level - Decent. Green was good for awhile, but it failed to yield any playoff success.
Kurt Warner - NYG/ARI
Warner is still one of the most fascinating players to me. Not just because of his 1999 season, but also because of the five year stretch in the middle of his career when he was terrible again. Five years: 31 starts, 63.9% completions, 220 yards/game, 27 TD/30 INT, 82.1 rating, 7.2 Y/A, and a record of 8-23 as a starter. He never made more than 10 starts in any season during that stretch, and it included two years in St. Louis, one in New York, and two in Arizona. Injuries and benchings galore.
Ages 36-38? 42 starts with the Cardinals, 65.4% completions, 261 yards/game, 83 TD/45 INT, 7.5 Y/A, 93.6 rating and a 24-18 record as a starter with a near Super Bowl victory over the Steelers. Warner you odd, crazy, wild, magnificent bitch.
Success Level - Zero in New York. Some in Arizona until finally paying off unexpectedly in 2008.
Michael Vick - PHI
The Vick situation is another unique one in how to acquire a QB. In the "How to Acquire a QB Handbook," the chapter on "Find a QB that has been accused of either: Dogfighting, Arson, Identity Theft, Birdnapping, Embezzlement, or Unlicensed Fishing and then sign him with controversy and hope he pans out" is a short one. Vick had a stellar 2010 season, but a shakier 2011. He's still got the ability to play at an elite level.
Success Level - Fair. The Eagles issues in an 8-8 season last year didn't only reside in Vick playing below expectations. Long-term, he could still be a great answer for them in the next 3-4 years.
Vince Young - PHI
Quick note: Vince Young was terrible in limited action last year.
But here's this:
Rex Grossman - WAS
Don't find yourself in a situation where you have a QB competition between Rex Grossman and John Beck. That's like being on The Bachelorette and finding yourself having to choose between.... Rex Grossman and John Beck.
Donovan McNabb - WAS/MIN
The Redskins gave up a 2nd round pick and a conditional 3rd/4th to acquire McNabb. It seemed like it could be a good deal at the time, if Washington could squeeze the last remaining life out of him. On October 31st, Mike Shanahan benched him in favor of Grossman during a game against the Lions. On November 15th, they gave him a new contract worth $78 million. Of course, this is the NFL, and his guarantee was only $3.5 million, but I just like to point out that in my last two mentions of the Redskins, they've done this and had a battle between Grossman/Beck.
Shanahan won two Super Bowls. Three Six Mafia won an Academy Award. Avatar is the highest-grossing film ever. Life, you are one wild and crazy ride of randomness.
A year after being traded for a 2nd and a conditional 3rd, the Vikings traded a 6th and a conditional 6th to get McNabb. He was not very good.
Success Level - Somewhere between Anna Kournikova in singles competition and the TV show Joey.
Jay Cutler - CHI
On the flipside of Kyle Orton is Jay Cutler. The Bears have never had a great quarterback (in the modern era, is mostly what I am referring to) which might make Cutler the most talented QB they've ever had. That's why they gave up Orton, two firsts and a third in order to get Cutler. (An earlier rumor had a three-way deal that would send Cassel to the Broncos and Cutler to a third team, possibly the Lions or Buccaneers.) Was the cost worth it?
Success Level - Some. He's a good quarterback but the Bears offense has never really worked, for whatever reason. They've got Matt Forte, Cutler, some decent wide receivers, but they don't put a lot of points on the board. They went 11-5 in 2010 and were on their way to a similar record in 2011 before Cutler went down with injury.
Drew Brees - NO
The rare opportunity of a highly-thought of QB that enters the market because his former team already has a QBOTF and he's got injury questions. The Dolphins were interested but the Saints made the best play to get Brees.
Success Level - Kinda high.
Jake Delhomme - CAR
He was a pre-season star for the Saints until hitting free agency and signing with the Carolina Panthers. Rodney Peete was the starter at the very start of the year, but Delhomme replaced him in week one to lead Carolina to a comeback victory. He was entrenched as the starter from then on (2003-2009) until finally parting ways with tears after the 2009 season.
Success Level - Pretty high. Rarely spectacular, but the Panthers made a Super Bowl with Jake in 2003 and the NFC Championship that you may remember in 2005. He was good bang for your buck, in that he didn't cost the Panthers a bunch of high draft picks or compensation to start out with.
Kevin Kolb - ARI
He was the talk of the 2011 QB market, with fans in several cities clamoring for their team to do it whatever it takes to acquire him. The Cards ended up trading a 2nd round pick and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to get Kolb, plus signed him to a deal worth six-year, $65 million contract.
Success Level - Pretty low so far. As of today, it seems like they got similar (or better) production from John Skelton at a tiny percentage of the cost. Long-term, this could turn out to be a better deal than it looks as of today. But right now, I certainly would not regret the non-addition of Kevin Kolb by Seattle.
Let's Conclude This
I have looked at 19 quarterback acquisitions. Most of them are unique in some way. Not all of them were acquired to be QBOTFs, but some of them were. For instance, Vince Young was not, but his acquisition wasn't that much different than Vick's. It was a team taking a shot at finding a quality backup while they already had a confirmed starter.
If I have missed any examples that you think should be of note, please go ahead and throw it in the comments, but be as nice as possible. Because I'm sensitive okay???
Just for shits and giggles: 19 QB's resulted in one Super Bowl victory, that by Drew Brees. Easily the most successful QB on this list. The others to make a Super Bowl were Kurt Warner, Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Delhomme.
In comparison, of the last 20 Super Bowl teams, 13 of those quarterbacks were playing with the team that originally drafted them: (there's overlap with several guys making multiple Super Bowls) Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, Rex Grossman, Donovan McNabb. The guys that were acquired by other means: Warner twice with two teams, Rich Gannon, Brad Johnson, Delhomme, Hasselbeck, Brees.
Funny enough, Gannon and Johnson both started their careers with the Vikings. (Okay, not funny haha or even that funny interested. It's just a thing that happened and it piqued my interest. What if I said Gannon and Johnson both started in Minnesota and then threw for other teams and boy are their arms tired. Because they are old. Would that be funny haha? No. Okay, shoot me.)
And I think starting this article with me shooting myself and then you shooting me at the end wraps it up in a nice, little package. Don't you?