It seems like we just closed the door on the 2011 NFL and fantasy football season and here we are ready to move into 2012. In the coming months we'll be busy staying on top of the free agents moving around the league and preparing for the NFL Draft.
This is the first in a series focused on the top options in the free-agent market. For all of this year's free-agent class, be sure to check out KFFL's NFL free-agent tracker.
Bank on it: Drew Brees isn't going anywhere
2012 Free Agent Quarterbacks
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints - UFA - There is little doubt in my mind the Saints and Brees will come to terms on a long-term deal before the free-agent market even begins, likely keeping him in The Big Easy until he is ready to hang up his cleats.
Brees is coming off another monster season; this one saw him throw for an NFL-record 5,476 yards passing! He also threw 46 touchdowns compared to just 14 interceptions, as he completed a career-best 71.2 percent of his passes.
Potential landing spots - New Orleans
Will Flynn be someone's starting QB in '12?
Matt Flynn, Green Bay Packers - UFA - Flynn, of course, will be this year's darling free-agent signal caller. Everyone loves the backup quarterback who has shown some flashes. He has decent size (6-2, 225 pounds) and has been groomed in the Green Bay West Coast system. In the last two years, he has hit better than 60 percent of his passes during spot duty, while throwing for nine touchdowns and four picks.
Potential landing spots - We've all heard the speculation about a likely courting by the Miami Dolphins, where his former offensive coordinator is now the head coach. The Washington Redskins need a new signal caller something horrible; and I'm also not ruling out the Seattle Seahawks from making a run at him.
Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers - UFA - I'm not sure Smith will ever be someone you want to think about for your fantasy football team, but he did exactly what the 49ers' offense needed and coaching staff asked of him in '11 ... oh, and he stayed healthy. Leading the team to an NFC Championship game should be enough to earn him a two- or three-year deal to return as the team's starter in '12.
Potential landing spots - San Francisco
Kyle Orton, Kansas City Chiefs - UFA - Lets throw out 2011, which saw Orton bounce around between the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs. The two years previous, he threw for over 3,600 yards and 20-plus touchdowns each year. His completion percentage has flirted with 60 percent a couple of times, but he's not considered an incredibly accurate quarterback. He is, however, usually smart with the ball but needs a decent supporting cast.
Potential landing spots - If Peyton Manning leaves the Colts, I could see Orton coming on board to help with the Andrew Luck transition. Depending on what happens during the NFL Draft, I think the Washington Redskins will show interest ... possibly the Minnesota Vikings, too. Returning to Kansas City isn't out of the question as well.
Too early to give up on Henne?
Chad Henne, Miami Dolphins - UFA - While the Dolphins and Miami fans have given up on this former University of Michigan product, I still think Henne can be successful in the NFL ... and, possibly, for fantasy teams if he lands in the right situation. He needs a place to start over, and chances are high he will find one. We haven't seen much out of him, including consistency, in Miami, but Henne can be a heady player and successful with the right players around him. Let's not fool ourselves; most quarterbacks would have struggled in Miami the last few years.
Potential landing spots - I think the Dallas Cowboys could be a strong player here to bring him in as a backup to Tony Romo; I could also see the Cleveland Browns, New York Jets, Denver Broncos and Washington Redskins show interest.
The other guys ... Unrestricted free agents Vince Young (Philadelphia Eagles), Jason Campbell (Oakland Raiders), David Garrard (Jacksonville Jaguars/street free agent), Donovan McNabb (Minnesota Vikings/street free agent) and Brady Quinn (Denver Broncos) will all have a few teams making phone calls.
Quinn still intrigues me the most of this group. He has just 14 games to his resume, hasn't had a snap each of the last two years during the regular season, and I hate to pin that disaster in Cleveland completely on him. While it's odd to bring in 27-year-old project quarterbacks, I think there is still some talent to be had here.
Speaking of projects, Young is the one I have a hardest time putting a finger on. He has great size (6-5, 232 pounds) and has shown some flashes in the NFL. However, he is still a project, has a career-average of 57.9 completion percentage and may not have the mental toughness to make it in the league. Last year's four touchdowns and nine picks aren't anything to brag about, he doesn't fit well in a West Coast system.
I've never been a big Garrard fan (he is a game manager, at best); the same holds true for McNabb, who I said would flop in Minnesota. Without his legs, I don't think McNabb has the game to play in the NFL any longer.
Campbell will likely be a backup quarterback somewhere; and I'm not ready to rule out a return to Oakland.
Where are you at on this year's crop of free-agent quarterbacks? Do you think Matt Flynn can be the next star quarterback? Let me hear it in the space below.
You can stalk me on Twitter @RyanBonini; don't forget to stay on top of all of the latest fantasy football information by following @KFFL.