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Although this year’s class of free agents was not heralded as being a remarkable group of players, one position in particular has caught the headlines early in the free agency period. The position of quarterback, despite always receiving more media attention than any other position, has seen several big name moves around the league with expectant fans waiting anxiously to see how their new stars perform in the game’s most critical position.
One of the more unreported signings has been former Jacksonville Jaguar David Garrard’s move to the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins were spurned by Peyton Manning and Alex Smith all within the space of a week and were lucky to add Garrard to their roster where he will compete with current incumbent Matt Moore for the starting spot.
Although Moore showed flashes of brilliance last season, his inconsistency will be a worry for head coach Joe Philbin and Garrard’s arrival gives Philbin two serviceable options at the position, in addition to any further recruitment through the draft. As long as Garrard is showing no ill effects from his herniated disc, which kept him out of the 2011 season, his career pass completion rate of 61.6% and experience of the west coast offense that Philbin wants to implement at the Dolphins could well give him the edge over Moore when the new season arrives.
As the 2011 season came to an end, everyone expected then soon-to-be free agent Matt Flynn to join former offensive coordinator Philbin at the Dolphins, but instead the former understudy to Aaron Rogers is now plying his trade at the opposite end of the country, in Seattle. Flynn’s move to the Seahawks has been suggested by many to be enough to put Seattle into playoff contention despite the presence of the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West.
The main concern surrounding Flynn is whether he has the ability to be an NFL starter, having previously been a back up to Rogers in Green Bay. He put in two sensational performances for the Packers towards the end of the regular season but it is also important to remember that the Packers were a highly-tuned offensive machine last season and Flynn will not be surrounded by the same embarrassment of riches this year in Seattle.
The most important contributing factor to whether or not Flynn’s first season for the Seahawks is successful arguably rests with whether or not receivers Sidney Rice and Mike Williams can remain fit throughout the season.
Peyton Manning stole the headlines with his move to the Denver Broncos but questions remain as to whether the Broncos were the right destination for the quarterback. The Broncos do offer a good chance of making the playoffs given the relative weakness of the AFC West, but there are also many negatives to consider regarding his choice to play at Mile High Stadium.
The cold winters, lack of a dome and lack of elite receivers will all come as a shock to Manning who did not have to contend with these issues during his time at the Indianapolis Colts. The decision to join the Broncos is even more surprising considering there was also interest from both San Francisco and Tennessee.
The 49ers, who made it to the NFC Championship game last season, arguably offer a more realistic chance at a Super Bowl appearance, whilst the Titans offered Manning a ‘position for life’ effectively guaranteeing the quarterback a position with the franchise beyond his retirement. For better or worse however, Manning has made his decision and committed to the Broncos, making Denver one of the most eagerly anticipated teams to watch in 2012.
Perhaps the most intriguing and potentially successful move has been the acquisition of Tim Tebow by the New York Jets. The announcement of the move came shortly after Mark Sanchez agreed terms on a new long-term contract in New York and raises questions over who will be the starting quarterback for the Jets.
Sanchez has seen his progression stall of late, with some even suggesting he has regressed, and many experts had tipped the Jets to let him move on this offseason. The arrival of Tebow, which will not only help reduce discord in the Jets locker room, could spur on Sanchez and help the quarterback reach the potential he has promised since he joined the league.
Even if Tebow has been acquired solely as backup for Sanchez, he offers a fantastic second choice option and may well be the best backup in the league, with notable mentions to both Jason Campbell and Kyle Orton who have moved to the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys respectively.
One thing can be guaranteed however, should Sanchez show the same lacklustre performances next season then Linsanity will have to take a back seat and allow Tebowmania a chance to shine in the Big Apple.
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