The San Francisco 49ers have reportedly found a trading partner for ex-starting quarterback Alex Smith. The sought after quarterback who has had a career resurgence since Jim Harbaugh’s arrival as head coach two years ago is one of the more desirable quarterbacks this offseason. Having led the league in completion percentage before being benched in favor of second year player Colin Kaepernick, quarterback needy teams have been linked to Smith all offseason.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have been linked to Smith as much as any other team. Not likely to spend so much for what many consider a mediocre quarterback, the Jags have officially announced that it wasn’t them. So, who is Smith going to? We won’t know until March 12th, when the NFL year officially begins.
So, where does this leave teams like the Jaguars? Who will be under center for 2013?
With West Virginia QB Geno Smith the favorite to go #1 overall, the Jags may not end up with a quarterback in the first round. With a relatively shallow quarterback class coming out in this year’s draft, it seems unlikely that the Jags use their #33 pick to grab a lesser ranked passer when need and talent on both the defensive and offensive lines still match up at that point in the draft.
While it would be nice to grab a prospect like E.J. Manuel – especially if he slips to the mid rounds! (which he won’t) – I don’t see a passer coming out that could compete with Blaine Gabbert enough to push him out. With the way the coaching staff has been talking lately, it seems that Gabbert is the one to beat in the open quarterback competition, even if he isn’t given an advantage in it.
2012 backup Chad Henne is still with the team but isn’t being talked about like Gabbert. As we saw in 2012, it is unlikely that Henne will prove to be the better option during the offseason, so if the Jags bring in another player, as they are expected to, to compete it may likely be a free agent.
Some top quarterbacks likely to hit free agency are:
- Derek Anderson
- Charlie Batch
- Jason Campbell
- Brian Hoyer
- Tarvaris Jackson
There are a few others with starting experience, but it looks like a pretty slim field. Jackson seems like an interesting prospect to bring in and compete, but the one-time Vikings starter has been underwhelming when on the field. If the Jags are serious about pushing/beating Gabbert, this season does not seem to be the likely year it will happen.
While I doubt we’re stuck with just Gabbert and Henne for another season, the quarterback situation is bleak. I hope Smith has a good go of it in whatever city he ends up, but there’s no denying that if his trade goes through there will be a lot less optimism – even if you didn’t want Smith – for teams that need a quarterback to step up.
– Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims