With last week's decision to end the Vince Young era in the city of Nashville, the Titans are now faced with the tall task of finding themselves a starting quarterback.
Whether it's through the draft via their shiny, new #8 overall pick, a trade for an up-and-coming or established young veteran or the slim pickings of a rather weak QB free agency class, there's going to be someone new barking out the signals in the huddle of the Titans' offense in 2011.
Let's take an early look at some of the Titans' potential options as they begin the process of finding their next starting QB.
In a recent piece, prior to the Titans kicking VY to the proverbial curb, I examined a few possibilities if the Titans decided to use their #8 selection on a signal-caller. Since posting the article, the assumed top QB in the 2011 NFL Draft, Mr. Andrew Luck himself, chose to eschew the temptation of entering the league (at least for a year) by returning to school.
With Luck no longer a candidate, the opportunity to emerge as the draft's best quarterback has now been presented to the likes of Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett; guys that I mentioned as potential options if the Titans selected a QB at #8.
Of the four players, I'm expecting at least one of them to be around when the Titans are on the clock.
Who do I like the most, you ask? Believe it or not, I'm a bit enamored with what Newton brings to the table in the terms of sheer talent. Locker is a great athlete in his own right, but he's a bit too erratic for my tastes. Both Mallett and Gabbert have good size and arm strength, and could definitely emerge as possibilities.
Looking at the list of potential free agent quarterbacks, it's probably safe to say that the Titans won't be in the running for the top two candidates: As the case with most of us, I'm fully expecting Peyton Manning and Michael Vick to be quarterbacking their respective teams in 2011 and beyond.
Color me not too enthused about the prospects of the rest of the players on the list. Matt Hasselbeck would have been a solid candidate a few years ago but at this point in his career, he's not that much better of an option than Kerry Collins.
Donovan McNabb isn't on the list, but he appears to be on his way out in Washington. He's still a more than capable quarterback who could easily hold down the fort until a youngster is ready to perform.
Younger vets such as Alex Smith, Matt Leinart and Tarvaris Jackson all could use a change of scenery and with the right system and coaching staff, could still make something of their once-promising but currently disappointing NFL careers. However, they're not the guys you depend on if you're in the market for a starting QB, which is the situation the Titans are faced with.
If the Titans are willing to sacrifice a draft pick, their next starting QB could be acquired via trade. Of course, considering the sticky situation surrounding whether or not there's going to be a new labor agreement, the chances of the Titans traveling this route to get their new QB could be diminished (or at least delayed).
Kyle Orton is quickly becoming the Rodney Dangerfield of NFL quarterbacks. Despite putting up solid numbers over the last few years, he continues to get no respect. With Denver deciding to go with Tim Tebow as their QB moving forward, there's talk that Orton will be available in exchange for a second-rounder.
Personally, I like what Orton brings to the table and last year, he showed us up close and personal what he's capable of as he passed for 341 yards while tossing 2 TDs in Denver's 26-20 victory over the Titans.
Thanks to the phoenix-like re-emergence of Michael Vick, Philadelphia's probably going to be willing to deal Kevin Kolb. The price is likely to be high (1st rounder) but he's a talented signal-caller with a quick release and good accuracy.
My sleeper trade candidate: Green Bay's Matt Flynn. He's only 25 and with Aaron Rodgers ahead of him, there's certainly no future for him with the Packers unless he's content with being a career backup. Filling in for a concussed Rodgers against New England, Flynn played more than adequately, completing 24 of 37 passes for 251 yards and 3 scores.
In my opinion, Flynn's a poor man's Kolb: Tough, good accuracy and leadership abilities, makes up for his not-so-superior arm strength with the intangibles you look for in a starting QB. Unlike Kolb, acquiring Flynn isn't going to require a 1st rounder.
So there you have it, folks: an early preview of what's out there as the Titans embark upon their search to find their next starting signal-caller.
Have any favorites? Feel free to provide your choices below.