Ranking the vet QB impact; tough time for ailing stars
Posted: Wednesday March 30, 2005 11:43AM; Updated: Wednesday March 30, 2005 12:27PM
Brad Johnson had two solid seasons as a starter in Minnesota in 1996-97, throwing 37 touchdown passes.
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If I had to rate the top veteran quarterback acquisitions this offseason for the right-fit factor, my scorecard would look like this:
1. Jeff Garcia, Detroit -- He walks in the door knowing coach Steve Mariucci's offense better than starter Joey Harrington does. No more free passes for the Lions' 2002 first-round pick.
2. Brad Johnson, Minnesota -- The Vikings drafted Daunte Culpepper just after Johnson's first stint in the Twin Cities ended, but Johnson likes the Minnesota starter and is very comfortable with head coach Mike Tice.
3. Gus Frerotte, Miami -- His relationship with former Vikings offensive coordinator -- who's now with the Dolphins -- Scott Linehan sealed the deal. Count on him to push starter A.J. Feeley in the season's first half.
4. Kurt Warner, Arizona -- Dennis Green has proved he can win with almost any quarterback, and don't sell Warner short. But is Warner's arm right for the vertical passing game Green wants to feature?
5. Jay Fiedler, Jets -- You can't ask him to win games for you, but he usually doesn't lose games, either. And when you're only trying to upgrade at No. 2 from Quincy Carter, Fiedler is a step in the right direction.
6. Trent Dilfer, Cleveland -- Dilfer can still play smart, winning football when given the chance. If the Browns have a running game and a bit of defense, Dilfer is a solid short-term option.
7. Kelly Holcomb, Buffalo -- This one didn't get much attention, but he gives the Bills a backup who can light it up on any given Sunday. Just don't count on him for 16 games.
8. Drew Bledsoe, Dallas -- The Cowboys' O-line better block, because we've seen what Bledsoe looks like under a heavy rush. I know he's won for Bill Parcells in the past, but this isn't 1996.
9. Jim Miller, Giants -- He's had health problems in recent years, but when he's right, Miller isn't much different from Warner, the guy he's replacing as Eli Manning's backup.
Around the League
It has been a painfully tough market this offseason for star players coming off injury-plagued seasons. Bills running back Travis Henry seeks a trade and a fresh start elsewhere, but so far none have been forthcoming. The Broncos are trying to shop defensive end Trevor Pryce, but the nibbles have been virtually non-existent. And New England free-agent cornerback Ty Law -- arguably the league's best cover man heading into last season -- is available because teams are wary of signing him before he has the screws removed from his broken left foot in May.
No way should Miami settle for anything lower than a first-day draft pick for cornerback Patrick Surtain. And if I'm Kansas City, with its crying need for an upgrade in the secondary, I'm paying that price in a heartbeat. The potential trade recently became even more of a no-brainer for the Chiefs when they were awarded a 2005 third-round compensatory pick for losing offensive tackle John Tait to Chicago in free agency last year.