NFL Free Agents — QBs
We're just 20 days from the NFL draft and about a month into NFL Free Agency, and some marquee names remain available. It's time to take a look at the players out there and their prospects. Here's a look at a pair of quarterbacks still looking for work.
Status: Released by the Bears
Club Visits: Jets
About: Cutler has always been a frustration. Since entering the NFL, he's had all the talent in the world, but he never totally put it together. Smokin' Jay began his career in Denver, playing there for three seasons before getting shipped to the Chicago Bears, where he was the great hope for a title. He played there for eight years and soaked up an incredibly large contract, but the Bears were rarely ever competitive. In his eight years as the starter, the Bears managed to get to the playoffs just once. Jay won his first game then, famously, got injured against the Packers and missed most of the rest of that game, a loss. Most of the time, however, he struggled with sub .500 records and unfulfilled expectations. Not to mention the fact that he's never been viewed as a leader or great teammate. Kyle Long, one of Jay's offensive linemen, did offer a glowing account of him as a teammate post his release from the Bears, but that seems to be the outlier. In fairness, Cutler has played for three different head coaches and a number of offensive coordinators in his time in Chicago. And in 2015, under Adam Gase, Cutler posted a 64.4 percent completion percentage, 3,659 yards, 21 TDs and just 11 INTs in 15 starts. But the Bears were 6-9. That was hardly Cutler's fault alone, but it didn't help his case. Last season, however, the wheels fell off as Culter mustered just 59.1 percent completion, 1,059 yards, four TDs and five INTs in leading the Bears to a 1-4 record. That spelled the end for him in Chicago, as he ended on Injured Reserve. Cutler will be 34 when next season starts, but he arguably still has a few decent years left... if he can find anyone that wants to take him. He had a meeting with the Jets this off-season, but the Jets have been down that road before, enduring Ryan Fitzpatrick for two seasons. Things have been so bleak for Cutler there's rumors that he might just retire.
Where Does He Land: I always believed Cutler had talent, and he might be a great What If? But in the current climate, given his track record and potential cost, I don't think he gets signed before camps open. But it's hard to imagine he doesn't land somewhere in 2017, especially as pre-season begins and teams suffer serious injuries at quarterback.
Status: Released by the 49ers
Club Visits: None
About: Kaepernick might be the most intriguing option left in the veteran quarterback market. He's gotten no bites, but that is likely more to do with him as a person than as a player. Kaepernick caused a stir last season thanks to his vocal political positions and his stance of kneeling for the National Anthem. His team, the 49ers, were also terrible. It was no surprise when he was released this off-season. Many consider him a distraction because of the media coverage he's drawn, and the outrage from a certain group of fans. Kaepernick has said he plans to stand for the National Anthem this season, and his coach from last season — Chip Kelly — has said he was no distraction to the team. His first pro coach, Jim Harbaugh, has consistently offered glowing reviews of both his talent on the field and his character off the field. So it's easy to buy into the argument that Kaepernick is being black balled by the NFL. Another popular argument is that he's slipped in terms of his talent. But does that bear true? Last season, in 12 games, he completed 59.2 percent of his passes for 2,241 yards, 16 TDs and four INTs. He also ran for 468 yards, 6.8 yards per carry, and two more touchdowns. And that was for, arguably, the least talented team in pro football. Kaepernick wasn't the reason the 49ers couldn't win, and his numbers suggest he's still got plenty of life left as a backup quarterback, if nothing else. And it's hard to imagine that some of the QB needy teams in the league, like the Browns, Jets and Texans, are so completely unwilling to give him a look based solely on his on-field performance.
Where Does He Land: Kaepernick should be on an NFL roster this season. He is easily one of the best 32 quarterbacks in the NFL right now, and still will be after the draft. But he's received no bites and it appears his "baggage" is keeping teams away. I predict he goes unsigned heading into the season.