New England's black book of QBs
WWBD? What will Bill do?
Tuesday is the heaviest day for workouts around the league, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Patriots have a bunch of people at their Foxboro facility for Bill Belichick and VP Scott Pioli to inspect. Already, according to Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe, they have worked out six defensive backs, including Andre Dyson and Torry Holt's brother, Terrence. We'll see if today brings a quarterback in camp.
[5:30 p.m. Editor's Update: According to someone with access to the daily NFL workout information, New England did not work out a quarterback today.]
In the wake of the 38-13 lathering put upon New England Sunday, and the anemic performance of quarterback Matt Cassel, and the Patriots being in their bye week, you have to wonder what's going on in the team's laboratory. Two weeks ago, when word leaked of their prospective workouts of Chris Simms and Tim Rattay, the Patriots canceled them. Not a good idea for agents to play Woodward and Bernstein with the Patriots.
New England has one of the most inexperienced quarterback situations in football right now (Baltimore and Green Bay are close), with rookie Kevin O'Connell and neophyte Matt Gutierrez backing up Cassel, who hadn't started a game since high school before facing the Jets in Week 2. Belichick always believes in stirring up the roster because he knows backups often have to win games in December and January. There's no question he's thinking how he could improve his quarterback situation right now. He's sure to be thinking of the following avenues:
Veterans who'd be insurance policies in case Cassel flops
1. Vinny Testaverde, retired. He's 44, and he told me two weeks ago he was secure in his retirement. He might pull a calf in his first sprint out of the pocket. But he's got to be crossing Belichick's mind.
2. Damon Huard, backup, Kansas City. Biggest problem: He doesn't have the downfield arm to get the ball to Randy Moss. And I doubt Kansas City would want to deal a good game-manager who could get the Chiefs through games with Tyler Thigpen struggling as badly as he is. But he was Tom Brady's backup when Brady was a kid in this offense in New England, so he could be game-ready in days, not weeks. Cost? Maybe a fifth-round 2009 pick, going higher based on success if he plays.
3. Jon Kitna, starter, Detroit. Would Detroit want to go with Drew Stanton and tank an already hopeless season? Maybe. Would the Pats want to deal a third-round pick (my guess) for a guy likely to be productive in their offense, but also a guy likely to make a big mistake in January if they get there? I doubt it.
4. Tim Rattay, unemployed. Chad Pennington-type. Very smart, but with a below-average arm. Wouldn't surprise me if he gets brought in. Quietly this time.
5. Brad Johnson, backup, Dallas. Same problem with arm strength, though slightly better than Rattay. Big question here would be whether Dallas would be willing to have Brooks Bollinger one play away from making a Super Bowl run. My guess is Dallas won't trade Johnson unless it's for something really good, like a third-rounder.
6. Daunte Culpepper, retired. If they haven't called him by now, I doubt they will. "He's playing in cement shoes,'' said one personnel man I spoke with, concerned the two-and-a-half-year-old knee surgery is still plaguing Culpepper.
Younger guys New England would have to trade a late-round pick to get
1. Luke McCown, backup, Tampa Bay. The Bucs have four quarterbacks, which would seem to make this an easy deal. Two problems. Trading with Tampa Bay GM Bruce Allen is Herculean. Second, McCown is Tampa Bay's No. 2 in Jon Gruden's mind right now, ahead of Jeff Garcia and, of course, rookie Josh Johnson. Knowing how quick a hook Gruden has, the Pats would probably have to trade something significant for McCown -- say, a fifth-rounder that could rise to a three with playing time. Probably too high a price for someone this unproven.
2. Ryan Fitzpatrick, third quarterback, Cincinnati. Belichick loves Mike Martz, and Martz had an interesting run with Fitzpatrick in St. Louis in 2005, starting this Harvardian three times and watching him torch Houston for 310 yards in an overtime win. Smart guy, not overwhelmed by playing in the league.
Intriguing guys with experience I'd really try to get if I were the Patriots
1. A.J. Feeley, third quarterback, Philadelphia. He's played in some big games -- he nearly beat the Patriots at New England last year when Donovan McNabb was hurt -- and the Eagles would be willing to talk about him because of their comfort level at backup quarterback with Kevin Kolb. He's somewhere between Clint Longley and Jim Plunkett in terms of a guy who might have a chance to play effectively with a good team around him. He's the guy I'd try to deal for, but remember one thing: The Eagles always try to beat teams into submission on trades; anything more than a fifth-round pick in 2009 would be too much.
2. Andrew Walter, backup, Oakland. Hey, Randy Moss loved him out there. (Uh, just kidding.) But he's got a good arm and could be had, I would think. Big question is accuracy, or lack thereof; he completed 53 percent in his half-season run in the Raiders' horrible 2006 season. He'd be an interesting prospect because he can get the ball downfield and he'd be better-protected in New England than he ever was in Oakland.
Finally, there are the Colts' summer rejects, Jared Lorenzen and Quinn Gray, who are on the street. Lorenzen has a good arm with zero mobility. Gray always seems to make the big mistake when he played. Watch one of those guys end up in Patriots camp Wednesday.