Geno Smith. Tyler Wilson. Ryan Nassib. Mike Glennon. The calls will come for the Kansas City Chiefs to make a change at quarterback this offseason, and various NFL Draft pundits and analysts will link a prospect like the aforementioned options to the Chiefs.
Whether it's one of those options or not, he will not be the only new quarterback in town in 2013.
The Chiefs will likely release Matt Cassel given that he's owed $7.5 million next year. It's a non-guaranteed amount, so the team doesn't lose anything by cutting him loose. Cassel has been a model citizen in the Kansas City area and in the clubhouse, so maybe in another setting, he would re-sign to a team-friendly deal to stay around in a new back-up capacity. However given the drama of the Cassel era, the team will want go with a clean slate.
The free agent options for the Chiefs are important because there are no guarantees that any rookie -- even a potential first round choice -- will be ready to play in the NFL.
Last year, three quarterbacks were taken in the first eight overall picks in the 2012 NFL Draft and each one of them started the majority of games for their respective teams, including two playoff teams. Perhaps the Chiefs will enjoy the same results, but recent NFL history also reveals several examples of a quarterback prospect sitting for some time to learn the position. When some teams force the issue (i.e. the Jaguars with Blaine Gabbert, the Panthers with Jimmy Clausen), the results are not pretty. Andy Reid did this with Donovan McNabb in his rookie season for a short time in Philadelphia.
This means the Chiefs must pair their quarterback of the future with a quarterback of the present, someone who can command the huddle in the first week of the season if needed. In addition, the veteran will be a key presence for a rookie like Geno Smith or others, working with them day after day with position coaches and offensive personnel.
So which vet could the Chiefs go after in the offseason?
Here are a few options:
1. Jason Campbell
Just last offseason, the former Redskins starter was one of the names thrown around to challenge Cassel for the starting spot along with Kyle Orton and Chad Henne. Each of them went to other teams and Campbell settled behind Jay Cutler for the Chicago Bears. Last year, Campbell had middling results (72.8 rating) in 6 games, including one start. The Bears could re-sign him, but expect the journeyman to net a one-year deal no matter where he lands.
Salary: Campbell made $3.5 million in 2012.
2. Matt Moore
In 2011, Moore was a surprise for the Miami Dolphins under Brian Daboll's offense with a 16-9 touchdown-to-interception ratio in 12 starts. The Dolphins still drafted Ryan Tannehill, however, and Moore's playing time dropped considerably in 2012 (he only threw 19 passes all year). Expect some team, perhaps the Chiefs, to cash in their chips on Moore's performance from the previous season and hope for similar returns.
Salary: Moore made $2.75 million in 2012
3. Drew Stanton
The former Detroit Lions quarterback hasn't thrown a pass in two seasons, so he's hardly the safety net to place beside a rookie. But the Indianapolis Colts thought enough of him to pair him with Andrew Luck and the talent is there for the Chiefs to consider the same.
Salary: Stanton made $1.225 million in 2012
There will be, of course, several other options that enter the open market, including a few surprises. Alex Smith could be released. Michael Vick should be available. Those are names that will be linked with KC as soon as they become available for teams to consider. However for now, the Chiefs have a few names that could be enticing as they consider how to bolster the position under new head coach Andy Reid.