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Jeremy Jones

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Greg Rosenthal


Top 12 Free Agent Quarterbacks

1. Derek Anderson, Browns Restricted Free Agent - Two big questions face the best quarterback available this offseason.

What is his worth around the league?

Opinions vary widely about Anderson. He's a young Pro Bowler with a terrific arm and aggressiveness. He stands tough in the pocket. But some may see his struggles with short, timing throws and conclude he wouldn't fit many offenses. Other teams worry he's the product of a fantastic offensive line and group of skill players.

The Browns and the rest of the NFL appear to believe that Anderson must back up his ascendant 2007 with another strong campaign. He wants Matt Schaub/Tony Romo money, but he's going to have to wait.

Is he really available?

If they can't sign him to a long-term deal, which is looking increasing likely, the Browns should manage to retain Anderson by placing the highest restricted free agent tender on him. That would require another team to give up a first- and third-round pick just to sign him to a huge deal, which should be prohibitive. The Browns have exchanged contract proposals, but a long-term deal looks unlikely.

Don't expect the Browns to trade him. They have spent a decade wandering in the quarterback wilderness, and they should be happy to have two good options. Teams don't lose players they truly want to keep, and they will want to keep Anderson. For one more year, having Anderson and Brady Quinn is a good problem.

Prediction: Browns, $11 million guaranteed

2.Byron Leftwich, Falcons - Joining the Falcons in-season was a disaster waiting to happen; it did. But Leftwich is still a 28-year-old former top-ten pick with 45 career starts and a 52/38 TD/INT ratio. He's a huge injury risk, but he's going to come cheaply and has upside. Teammates see him as a leader. Let's not put him on Joey Harrington's career path yet.

Baltimore and Miami make sense because they will build around a vertical passing game. Leftwich should stay away from West Coast systems because his strength is getting the ball down the field.

Prediction: Miami, $6 million guaranteed

3. Daunte Culpepper, Raiders - He's a long way from his NFL MVP runner-up form, but Culpepper showed in Oakland that he be a capable backup. He put together a few solid outings before hurting his hamstring.

For all his faults, Culpepper has averaged 7.13 YPA over his last three injury-plagued years. He won't fit every system, but he can improve many rosters. He accepted his backup role well in Oakland. The Bucs, Dolphins, Bears, Jaguars, and Falcons all make sense. We'll put him with his old Dolphins coach Mike Mularkey in Atlanta.

Prediction: Atlanta, $4 million guaranteed4. Rex Grossman, Bears - Chicago's defense was the main difference between Super Bowl Rex and the guy benched for Brian Griese. But the perception of Grossman is certainly down, and he made the same old mistakes late last year (holding the ball too long, struggling with blitzes). Look for the Bears to value him more than the rest of the league.

Prediction: Chicago, $6 million guaranteed

5. Billy Volek, Chargers- He had some big days as a starter with the Titans, but left in an ugly situation behind that will hurt his stock. His game-winning drive against the Colts in the AFC Championship should earn some money back. With a little luck, Volek could compete to start. He's more likely to get a clear backup job.

Prediction: Jaguars, $3 million

6. Cleo Lemon - Lemon played with competence in a tough situation for Miami in 2007. He takes the check down pass too much, but doesn't make many big mistakes. Cam Cameron could bring him to Baltimore to compete with Kyle Boller and a rookie to be named later.

Prediction: Ravens, $3 million

7. Todd Collins, Redskins - He was a revelation in the Washington run to the playoffs, but he's 36 and won't fit most offenses. The Redskins have shown some interest, but Collins should try to follow Al Saunders to St. Louis. He could replace Gus Frerotte there as Marc Bulger's backup.

Prediction: Rams, $4 million

8. Trent Green, Dolphins - Forget his concussion problems and watch how poorly he played in 2007. His accuracy was all over the place and he saw the pass rush. Considering his head injuries, it would be great to see a classy guy like Green walk away before getting forced to.

Prediction: Retirement

9. Quinn Gray, Jaguars - He was wildly inconsistent, but Gray managed two 300-yard games in losses this year. He wants a chance to start elsewhere, but that seems unlikely. He's shown enough to pique the interest of another team except the Jaguars.

Prediction: Vikings, $2.5 million guaranteed

10. Josh McCown, Raiders - Three teams have tried to make him an NFL quarterback, and none have succeeded. Look for that pattern to continue.

Prediction: Buffalo, $2 million

11. Jared Lorenzen, Giants (Restricted Free Agent) - It's hard to imagine another team but the Giants wanting The Hefty Lefty.

Prediction: Giants, second-round tender

12. Chris Redman, Falcons - Atlanta has shown interest in keeping him to compete for the starting job.

Prediction: Falcons, $3 million

Trade Bait

Chad Pennington - The Jets say they will keep him, but old friends Herm Edwards and Bill Parcells may show interest.

J.P. Losman - Like Leftwich, Losman is a disappointing first-rounder looking for love. Teams like Atlanta, Minnesota, and Baltimore looking for a possible starter will perform their due diligence.

Possible Cuts

Steve McNair, Ravens - Injuries have made him a shell of his former self. We suspect he'll retire rather than take a clear backup job.

Gus Frerotte, Rams - His situation could depend on Todd Collins.

Brian Griese, Bears - The Bears appear content to bring Rex Grossman back. They won't compound that mistake by bringing Griese back to compete with him.

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