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Quarterback Musical Chairs
By Garth Pearce
Special to gzl-football.com

A Quarterback is arguably the most important position for any Madden GM team. They lead the offense and are ultimately responsible for scoring your points and making on-field decisions. As such we all strive to obtain the best Quarterback we can/want/desire/afford to fit our team, preferences and play style. Trades and Free Agency involving QB's are paid the most attention as these moves can bring a new dimension and era to a franchise and can affect your chances at a successful season. AF made a comment in his recent Draft Spotlight article which sums up the current situation in GZL in regards to Quarterbacks:
A_Fernandez :
As the league develops, there are fewer and fewer QB "seats" in the game of musical chairs
Because of the custom progression system we all have the ability to progress our chosen signal caller regardless of performance, which means more teams are likely to have a solid starter, or developing player on their squad who will hold these duties for the long term. From this we'll take a quick look at each team and who they've already got and the likelihood that they'll be looking for a new pass maker in this draft or the near future.


Teams with a Prime Stud who don't need to look

At 5 YP Freeman is at the pinnacle of his abilities and is a lifer at Tampa.
Ponder is in his fourth year and only has some awareness progression left to max himself out. Arizona wouldn't look for his replacement until he starts regressing as his 91 THP will shorten his overall life.
He's only in his third year but requires less than 10 points in awareness and accuracy to reach the top and his 95 THP will almost be enough to keep him as a viable option in San Diego until he retires.
Minutely more developed than Gabbert he needs 12 more progression points to finish. He was only 21 when drafted which means his career can be longer but his throwing power will drop below 90 before then, which may see him replaced in the twilight of his career.
Ryan resembles a more seasoned version of Christian Ponder and will suffer the same fate, as his power drops below 90 a couple of years before retirement (about 4-5 years from now).
Stafford needs 12 more points to finish progression and has plenty of years ahead of him to use that skill. With his throwing power he can stay at the helm of Lions until he wants a pension.
Sanchez is another starter who only needs a few points to max out his skills, which at 5 YP gives him plenty of life ahead. He'll regress below 90 THP as he turns 35 so he may hang on in New England until he retires.
Bradford's marginally more polished than Sanchez but will just squeeze into an effective QB by age 36 without too much consideration.
Flacco is almost to the top and has a strong enough arm to guarantee that he can stay in Baltimore for his career, all barring the fact that he doesn't become a stinker or injury prone player.
Henderson is right up there with all the above guys, almost at the peak and only in his fourth season, however because he started at 21 and has 95 THP he'll regress over 6 years and lose a total of 12 points in power. In 9-10 years the Titans should have his substitute sorted.
McCoy needs some focus into awareness to lift from 85 but his accuracy is already maxed. His 89 THP doesn't lend itself to a long life, so when regression hits in 6 years there should be a replacement grooming in the wings or a pick ready to nab the next star.


Teams developing their young QB

There are 2 rookies on this roster that bring different skills to the table. Tannenhill appears to be the better physical prospect of the pair, whilst Klein is a more talented player now, hence why he's starting. Either one of these guys will serve the Bengals over a long period; they'll just have to make a choice who it is.
Don't know if Breck is a keen scrambling man but he's got one of the best in RG3. The development love is flowing and he'll be a top rated passer in a short time, so it's only left to see if his style matches what Breck wants and can handle in the long term.
Christensen and Ryan Mallett were both brought in at the start of the year, with Christensen getting the obvious starting role after battles. A few more years will see him as a quality passer, however his early start to his career and 92 THP won't result in a long career, maybe 6-8 more years.
Boston Mallett is a beast of a man who just needs some work on his awareness and accuracy. I can't see Brad ever giving up this guy until he hangs up his cleats for good.
The past couple of seasons have shown the Colt's obvious dedication to Jake Locker as their starter. He still needs some decent work on his awareness but the rest of the tools are there. I think they are going to stick with him for a while unless a stud falls into their lap.
Romo has already been shopped this year and Ricky Stanzi was added in the offseason to be groomed as his replacement. Romo has 2 years left before he's done but his arm strength won't be as threatening as before. I would say that Keith will be happy to start Stanzi next year as he continues to develop the kid and therefore keep him long term, but there isn't any personal attachment here so if something better comes along, watch out.
This year's #1 pick Geno Smith is the QB keeper for the 49ers after bumming out on Weedon the year before. Another player who should spend their life locked in for one franchise till the end.
Brees was brought in at the start of this season because JP wasn't ready to star Kapernick. Brees already has a weak arm and most likely won't start another year for New York and Kapernick should be in a better position to start. It's yet to be seen if JP is truly happy with what Kapernick offers (as highlighted by his trade history whilst considered a backup) or if he's just hanging out waiting for the ripe time and player to draft and even more talented player.
Much like the Giants, the feel for Jimmy Clausen as the starter wasn't quite there this year and the preference was given to Matt Cassel first and then Matt Schaub after injury. Schaub only has 3 years left in the league but can be effective for at least 2 of them, if not all the way. Clausen may be given the start as Schaub is out of contract this offseason and he's given a bit more time for Clausen to get his raw stats up (which obviously troubled Kevin after last season at the helm). Clausen is in his 5th year but still needs some awareness help, so it wouldn't surprise me if this project was scraped and a new youngster was found to groom in either this draft or next.
Barkley was injured for a lot of his rookie campaign but is still looking like the franchise face of Carolina. He's destined for a long and successful career, but will his injury worries mean he does it continuously with the Panther or get shipped around?
Newton is the more refined of the young scramblers in the league but still needs some work to get his skills high enough to be really effective in the passing game. Nic is committed to his development and role in his team so he's not likely to stray from Seattle in his career.
Chad Henne is on the verge of being a progression loser as he's almost at the year limit for affordable points whilst still needing some work on awareness and accuracy. He's proven he can get the job done as is but that won't guarantee him the job if a good replacement comes along.
Bennett flew under the radar once he took the helm at Houston when Schaub was injured last year. Paul is quick to remind people that he is the starter for this team and he has the man in good position to become a worthy starter by sticking to his progression (even though he keeps missing that bonus performance progression by inches).


Teams with an Aging Star and could do with a replacement/understudy

Cutler's an aging star as he's left with 1 season before regression and he hasn't hit his ultimate prime. He has 5 years until retirement and his arm can hold out for that time too, so he can finish as a Bear if they are happy with his output.
Rodgers just falls out of the studs section because he's about to hit the physical downhill slide. He still has up to 6 years left of his career, of which 5 will still have him with a challenging throwing arm. He may be given a trainee in a couple of years to help groom, but nothing too soon.
Rivers is a step closer to the QB graveyard than Rodgers and doesn't have the arm strength to stay around as a premiere passer for long. As he's 32 now he can still go until he retires 4 years from now so he may be lucky, but a replacement can't be too far off to make use of mentoring.
Manning has bounced from a few teams as his prime time clocks down, but the Saints paid to get him in knowing this was inevitable and his contract was up. He should continue on for at least 2-3 more seasons, which may mean next year or the year after a replacement could be drafted or brought in.
Big Ben is at the same stage of his career as Manning and will start to get a weaker arm. Due to his stronger presence he can continue effectively until he retires, but knowing Ricky he'll add his understudy after a couple more seasons to get some mentor points in.


Teams most likely looking/needing a new starter real soon

Wilson isn't a slouch with awareness and accuracy, but his height is considered a concern by most Madden-maniacs. With 6 first rounder's this year the Dolphins could well move to get the prime QB of this draft, but we don't know if Ben thinks Wilson can succeed and is worth a shot or if he has something else in mind. The team has plenty of needs this year and it will be an interesting situation to keep an eye on.
Kolb missed the boat to get all his abilities to a respectable level and was one of a couple of options utilised this year as a starter. Traded in to start, he has already seen one extra guy brought in to replace him before being moved on again, so his position is far from solid. This is probably the one team that really needs a new QB now, but they also have very little obvious leverage to get a better one this year.
Vick has 2 years left before he's back to dog fighting so a replacement is obviously on the cards. Robinson was picked up last year and could be the go to option, however height is another consideration as these shorties just don't gel with the Madden engine that well.

In summary I see the Jets and Dolphins being the front runners for needing a QB, with the Giants, Packers, Raiders and even Redskins all possibilities to blood young players for various reasons. The Jaguars and Saints would be outside players on the QB market if they wanted to chase an early understudy but could quite easily wait a year or 2 more. Everyone else is in a solid position at this point to focus their attentions, picks and money on more important team needs.
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