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WITH KURT WARNER running the offense in 2008 and '09, the Cardinals had one of the league's best passing games and went to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time in 34 years. With Warner retired last season, Arizona started three quarterbacks, produced only 10 touchdown passes—one more than the Panthers' league low—and missed the postseason with a 5--11 record.
The Cardinals' plight reaffirmed the axiom that a team can't win without a quarterback—which is why so much attention will be paid to where a handful of signal-callers wind up. Here are the most intriguing situations.
The Vikings' starter in 2007 (he threw for 1,911 yards, nine touchdowns and 12 interceptions), Jackson was used sparingly over the last two seasons as Brett Favre's backup. Now he is expected to replace Matt Hasselbeck in Seattle. Jackson, 28, played under new Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell in Minnesota, so he is familiar with the system and should be able to immediately lead the offense.
The Eagles' backup is expected to be traded, probably to the Cardinals, who watched Derek Anderson, John Skelton and Max Hall complete barely half their passes last season. Kolb, 26, has thrown more interceptions (14) than TDs (11) and has only seven career starts, but Arizona's brass believes he has tremendous upside. If Kolb is dealt, Philly could turn to Vince Young, who is also a good fit for Miami and Oakland.
Just before the lockout began, the 12-year veteran turned down a two-year extension with the Seahawks that could have paid him roughly $14 million, including $7 million in guarantees. Hasselbeck's likely destination is Tennessee, where he would be reunited with former Seahawks exec Mike Reinfeldt and serve as the bridge to Jake Locker, the No. 8 pick in April, out of Washington.
The Redskins don't want to pay him a $10 million roster bonus, so unless he agrees to restructure his deal in a trade, it's likely he'll be released. He has been linked to Minnesota—where Favre finally retired—but the Vikings drafted Florida State's Christian Ponder at No. 12 and appear ready to hand him the ball. Several general managers believe McNabb will have to agree to a backup role before a team signs him.