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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 a Draft Spotlight article before 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 6 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 fourth 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 5-6 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 6 YP gives him plenty of life ahead. He'll regress below 90 THP as he turns 36 so he may hang on in Green Bay until he retires, unless the Jimmy Clausen project finally gets wings.
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 Fifth 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 5 years there should be a replacement grooming in the wings or a pick ready to nab the next star.


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.
Jake Locker had been touted as the long term project in Indy for a couple of years, but then Merlin goes and trades for Matt Schaub in a move that essentially puts the brakes on that project. Whilst Schaub is only an option for a couple of years (and still getting injured) there will need to be a backup plan in Indy to cover his absences and hopefully learn from his tutelage. Locker could still be an option here as playing won't improve his abilities, however when you see Mark Steele filling the starting role on the back of Schaub's injuries, and even the punter getting more passes than Locker you have to wonder what the succession plan will look like.
Rodgers just falls out of the studs section because he's about to hit the physical downhill slide. He still has up to 5 years left of his career, of which 4 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 unless his contract is considered too exorbitant in Philly HQ.
The QB merry-go-round continues in Jersey as Eli Manning comes home for his swan song, even if his current contract probably won't see him through to retirement. This again puts the stocks of Colin Kapernick on hold as he waits his turn to finally start. Will he ever see a year as the defined starter, even with 4 more years on his contract? This is probably another Jimmy Clausen/Jake Locker situation where they are almost there but the awareness is just too low for consistency. 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.
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 33 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 (and his arm power will be sub-90 in 2 years).
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. Current GM Travis Robbins expressed a knee-jerk discontentment with Ben during the Raiders game but it's yet to be seen if he'll be a Steeler for life or moved in the last year of his current contract.


Teams developing their young QB:

Ryan Tannenhill has been given the reins in Cincinnati after Collin Klein was shipped out and he seems to be doing what the GM needs. It's young days yet and the talent is really raw, but with some strong investment (at least 20 AWR, 10 THA) he can be a long term future for the Bengals
I 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 cementing the starting job last season and Mallett moved back to New England. 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.
Ricky Stanzi looks to be the main man in Dallas, however for a player in his 5th year and below star AWR and THA, Tyler Wilson could well supersede him in a few years. It isn't a bad position to be in, especially if Stanzi with a few more years of progression becomes the backup, but in reality that's a decision that KVW will need to make sooner rather than later to get the best of the young starter bonus progression into Wilson and avoid paying the same price as the Bengals to get their man up to scratch.
The Dolphins were in the prime seat to draft any QB they wanted last draft but chose to move around and eventually take Mike Glennon at pick 24. How high we was on their draft board I don't know but he has the tools to work with, being 6'7" and maxing out at 95 THP he can be a long term stayer in Miami. There is a lot of youth in the team to share progression with so it'll be interesting to see if he gets focus training from the get go.
Last 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.
If you're happy with a scrambling QB and can't get the blistering speed of an RGIII or Cam Newton than E.J. Manuel is a decent option. Good height at 6'5", an arm up 96 THP and awareness already in the mid 70's is a good starting point. To get some truly consistent passing displays it'll take a few years of work on him, but if the management stick with him long enough they can have a lifer in New York, probably getting better once he regresses out of the scrambling mode.
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?
Matt finally gave up trying to win with Sanchez and is now in the era of QB development with returning play caller Ryan Mallett. The other Mallett was looking to be the future in New England before Sanchez was scooped up and he got shipped to Denver. There he was ousted by Christensen and shipped back to New Engalnd. He looks good at 6'7" and 98 THP, but is pretty raw elsewhere even after 3 years of boosting his awareness. He'll struggle to get into the star level of attributes from where he is, but will last at that level until he retires. If Matt can avoid the growing pains and sticks with him then he's set for the next decade, although a more polished option being presented may be too much to refuse.
Collin Klein has to have the weakest arm of any starter ever in this league (not including regressed vets), yet he looks to have ousted Michael Vick from the starting gig. In his first 2 years he's shown he can complete passes at a high rate, but his 87 THP ceiling means once he regresses it's pretty much all over for his career. There's probably another 10 years left in his tank before he goes beyond his rookie power and overall usefulness.
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 a few years back. Paul was 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 kept missing that bonus performance progression by inches). Bennett got a long term RFA restructure which almost locks him in to Houston for good, but with Kendall Irving drafted #1 this year and making the most of his starts Bennett could be relegated to backup or shipped out. In any case Houston is set at QB however they go and in a decade or more can make a new decision for the next generation.


Teams most likely looking/needing a new starter real soon:

When your starting QB resembles a poor man's E.J. Manuel then you know you are scrapping the bottom of the barrel for quality. Matt Scott is a mid-80's speed scrambler with an 89 THP arm and looks like being a 1 year fill in even though he's been a surprise packet to date. He can reach 91 THP which is respectable, but I wouldn't put it passed any Saints GM to draft a better replacement next season.

After another draft full of quality QB options the "seats" left for QB musical chairs are getting slim. The Saints look to be the front runner of the teams who actually need a quality signal caller. There are a few franchises that may be happy to jump ship on their current project for a better option (Colts, Giants, Patriots, Redskins), whilst a few aging vets may see their replacements brought in to understudy in the near future (Bears, Eagles, Jaguars, Steelers). Everyone else is in a solid position at this point to focus their attentions, picks and money on more important team needs, but we know that a perfection is still in the eyes of many GM's and stranger choices have been made (eg. Texans).
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