AFC West: Marc Bulger
Mike from Shamokin, Pa., wants to know which quarterbacks available in 2011 the Raiders could be interested in.
Bill Williamson: Mike, I think you are on the right track. Unless Jason Campbell shows he can be a consistent player in the final five games of the season, Oakland will, at least, bring in some competition for him. Bruce Gradkowski could be re-signed, but he’s probably backup material. He is too injury-prone and too limited to be considered the starter of the future. The problem is, there aren’t many prospective free agents that are intriguing. The list of free-agent quarterbacks is weak as usual. Guys like Kerry Collins, Marc Bulger, Matt Leinart and Brodie Croyle are on the list. Michael Vick will, in all likelihood, return to Philadelphia. That would mean Kevin Kolb might be available through a trade. He might be expensive, and Oakland doesn’t own its first-round pick, which, of course, means the Raiders won’t be in the mix for the top rookie quarterbacks, either. So, right now, the 2011 quarterback options don’t look great for Oakland. But you never know what will happen. There will be some quarterbacks available who we didn’t originally think would be. Did anyone think Jay Cutler and Donovan McNabb would be traded in the past two offseasons? This is a situation worth watching because we know the Raiders will probably be looking at quarterbacks in the offseason again.
Chris from Chicago wants to know my thoughts on Denver’s “spygate” scandal.
BW: I’m not going to get into theories of what did or didn’t happen. The NFL investigated, and it concluded that Denver video director Steve Scarnecchia acted alone. But the team and coach Josh McDaniels were each fined $50,000, in part, because McDaniels didn’t report the incident when he found out. That’s all we know. But I do think the Broncos should be ashamed of the situation, and I think McDaniels is responsible because he is the head coach. He is supposed to know everything that happens in the organization. There is no room for an incident like this in the NFL. I know there are a lot of embarrassed and bothered people in both the Broncos’ organization and around the NFL.
Dylan from Villisca, Iowa, wants to know if Matt Cassel could be in the MVP chase.
BW: He’s an underdog, but he has a shot. Cassel is No. 7 in this week’s MVP Watch on ESPN.com. He’s a candidate for sure. Cassel has 22 touchdowns and has thrown just four interceptions this season for the 7-4 Chiefs, who lead the AFC West by one game. This is how Cassel can win it: The Chiefs would have run the table or lose just once, and he’d have to toss another 15 touchdowns or so. It’s a tall order, but Cassel has been hot lately. It’s not out of the question.
So it is only natural to wonder if Oakland would consider Marc Bulger. He was cut by St. Louis on Monday.
Bulger doesn’t appear to be an instant-impact player. He is 33, has dealt with injuries lately and has seen his production slip. If Oakland signed Bulger, he’d likely compete with JaMarcus Russell and Bruce Gradkowski. He wouldn’t be considered the sure-fire starter. So, it may not be worth Oakland’s time to pursue him.
But he’s an available quarterback -- we’ve learned in the past couple of weeks that Oakland is definitely open to adding one.
Hector Purugganan from Escolan, Calif., wants to know if the Raiders will be able to move up in the draft to take top defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy.
Bill Williamson: The Raiders have the No. 8 pick. It would be very costly to move up to the top two picks. Suh and McCoy are likely going to be the first two players off the board. I think Oakland has too many other needs to spend several picks on getting Suh or McCoy. In the end, Oakland will be better off keeping its top picks and filling multiple needs.
Denton from Hays, Kan., wants to know if Marc Bulger could be a fit in Denver if St. Louis parts ways with him.
BW: Perhaps as a backup. I don’t think, at this point, Bulger would be a huge upgrade over Kyle Orton. Bulger will be 33 in two months and he has been injury prone. I just don’t see him as being the type of player who could take Denver to the next level at this point of this career.
Tony from Clovis, Calif., wants to know if I think San Diego should trade cornerback Antonio Cromartie.
BW: I think it is certainly worth looking into. Cromartie is decent, but he is not a great player. Some folks in San Diego have tired of him. If the team could get a third-rounder for him and help address other needs, I think it would be worth exploring. The team is high on 2008 top pick Antoine Cason, so replacing Cromartie is not an issue.
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
I played along with our quarterbacking ranking feature.
It was an interesting exercise. I learned it's a pretty good league for quarterbacks these days. Some of the players I had ranked low are quality players and are winners.
Here's my list:
1. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis: Manning may be the best quarterback ever to play.
2. Tom Brady, New England: OK, Brady is 1b.
3. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh: Big Ben isn't pretty, but he's a winner.
4. Drew Brees, New Orleans: Brees has had his share of doubters. Not anymore. He's got the goods.
5. Philip Rivers, San Diego: Rivers is a winner. End of story.
6. Carson Palmer, Cincinnati: A good quarterback in a lousy situation.
7. Jay Cutler, Denver: He is not elite yet, but he's on his way.
8. Matt Ryan, Atlanta: What he accomplished as a rookie was astounding.
9. Tony Romo, Dallas: He may need to focus better, but he's a big-league talent.
10. Kurt Warner, Arizona: A future Hall of Famer.
12. Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia: He isn't perfect, but McNabb's a solid player.
13. Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle: Hasselbeck is a gamer.
14. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay: He'll be a Pro Bowler by 2010.
15. Chad Pennington, Miami: A gutsy, hard-nosed player.
16. Matt Cassel, Kansas City: We'll see how he does outside of the Patriots' bubble.
17. Trent Edwards, Buffalo: He has a chance to be very good.
18. Joe Flacco , Baltimore: He has a chance to move up this list quickly.
19. Jason Campbell, Washington: This is a big year for him.
20. Matthew Stafford: Detroit may be wise to take him with the top pick.
21. Matt Schaub, Houston: I expect a big year from him.
22. Mark Sanchez: He has a chance for fast success.
23. Jake Delhomme, Carolina: He's slipping, but he's had a nice career.
24. Kerry Collins, Tennessee: He's finishing his career strong.
25. Jeff Garcia: He still has something left in the tank.
26. Brady Quinn, Cleveland: He will move up this list soon.
27. David Garrard, Jacksonville: He doesn't make many mistakes.
28. Tarvaris Jackson, Minnesota: He's still raw and he needs to improve.
29. Marc Bulger, St. Louis: The end is near.
30. JaMarcus Russell, Oakland: The jury is still out, but he hasn't been impressive yet.
31. Derek Anderson, Cleveland: He needs a fresh start.
32. Kyle Orton, Chicago: He's just so-so.
33. Shaun Hill, San Francisco: Same with this guy.
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
Because of the onslaught of questions in light of Jay Cutler's public announcement of his trade request, we are doing a special Cutler-themed mailbag.
Jared from Rye, CO: Bill, with all the drama in Denver, I've been hearing rumblings on a Denver radio station that Tom Brady could be coming to town for Cutler and our #12 pick? Is this even conceiveable?
BW: I don't see that happening. The Patriots love Brady. That would be a shocker.
Matt from Salt Lake, UT: Hi Bill, I have a question nobody seems to have asked yet. Shanahan was let go because he had too much control in Denver. Jay Cutler was the future of the franchise and the one player Denver has had in the past 10 years that gave fans hope. If McDaniels has the power to trade him for Matt Cassel there must not have been to much power taken from the head coach position in Denver. This could mean two things. Mike Shanahan was not fired because he held too much power, or Bowlen wanted Cassel over Cutler. What's your take?
BW: My take is that McDaniels was given the same power that Shanahan had or he wouldn't have tried to get Cassel in the first place.
|The best moments from Jay Cutler in 2008.|
BW: The No. 2 pick would have to be involved and Bulger would only be a stop-gap solution in Denver.
Josh From Toronto: bill, quick question about cutlers lack of maturity. why can he not get over his ego and come back and practice harder and train harder to show the team that they need him? it makes the most sense for a player of his calibre to shut up and work his ass off to show his worth to the broncos
BW: I think it is all a trust issue. I can see where people think Cutler is being a baby in this situation but remember he didn't start this. He didn't ask for it.
JACOB from LINDSAY NE: If the Broncos decide to unload Cutler what's the return value on a young pro-bowl quaterback??
BW: I'd say a top five pick and maybe even a little more. Pro Bowl quarterbacks who are entering their fourth season don't always become available.
Dave from Utah: I know this sounds crazy, but what about firing McDaniels and Re-hiring Shanahan? This would keep Cutler happy and in Denver and Shanahan would benefit from the newly revamped defense that Denver has purchased through free agency. I know it sounds crazy, but it seems like a better idea than trading your franchise QB, or keeping an unhappy quarterback.
BW: I don't see that happening. Denver owner Pat Bowlen is standing behind McDaniels. I will tell you this: If Denver's awful for the next two years, McDaniels will be in trouble.