This is the next column in an ongoing series over the off season, predicting who will be starting at each position in 2013. Of course there will be many changes based on the results of the draft in April, as well as other happenings during the off season, so I’ll re-visit each column later in the summer. But for those of us in dynasty and keeper leagues, some shrewd moves early in the off season based on forward thinking can really pay off. In this column we’ll take a look at the quarterback position in the NFC. A lot less volatile than the AFC for sure, but where there are questions as to who will start it is almost a crapshoot. The predictions are who will be the starting QB for that team on opening day 2013.
Starter – Kevin Kolb
Backup – John Skelton, Ryan Lindley, Brian Hoyer
Now that the Cards coaching vacancy is filled, their QB situation is a little clearer. Of the four QB’s on the roster Kolb is by far the most talented at this stage of their respective careers. Based on the results in 2012 that’s not saying much, and Kolb can’t seem to stay healthy. Besides, he may not fit the offensive system that Bruce Arians wants to install. Both Skelton and Lindley failed miserably to provide anything close to NFL caliber play. Because of the severe weakness of the offensive line however, one or both might get another chance to show they have some talent. Skelton would have the inside track between the two. Hoyer will be a free agent and is not in the picture. Of the four, Kolb is probably the only one with a chance to find a starter’s job elsewhere and I’d peg that at 50/50 at best.
Probability Kolb will be the starter in 2013: 35%
Probability Skelton will be the starter in 2013: 20%
Probability Lindley will be the starter in 2013: 5%
Probability Hoyer will be the starter in 2013: 0%
Probability someone else will be the starter in 2013: 40%
Starter – Matt Ryan
Backup – Luke McCown, Dominique Davis
Winning his first playoff game means Ryan is all but guaranteed to be behind center again in 2013. McCown will be a free agent and will probably be looking elsewhere for a backup job. Davis looked pretty good in the pre-season and will probably be the #2 man in 2013.
Probability Ryan will be the starter in 2013: 100%
Starter – Cam Newton
Backup – Derek Anderson, Jimmy Clausen
Newton will most certainly be the main man again in 2013. Incoming OC Mike Shula probably won’t make drastic changes to the offensive scheme, which is good for Newton even though he and the team struggled early on in 2012. Anderson is likely gone as a free agent and Clausen won’t be the starter even if the unthinkable happens and Newton isn’t starting.
Probability Newton will be the starter in 2013: 100%
Starter – Jay Cutler
Backup – Jason Campbell, Josh McCown
With Marc Trestman coming on board as the head coach, Cutler’s starting role appears safe. And new OC Aaron Kromer has a reputation for helping keep QB’s upright. I think the Bear’s offense will hum right along. Campbell’s days as a potential starter are in the past. He’s a free agent in 2013 and will surely be signed somewhere as a backup, maybe even with the Bears. McCown is on his last legs even as a backup.
Probability Cutler will be the starter in 2013: 100%
Starter – Tony Romo
Backup – Kyle Orton, Nick Stephens
Jerry Jones still says Romo is his guy, and that’s about all you need to know about his chances to start in 2013. Orton seems content to be a backup which is good because he likely wouldn’t start anywhere even if he wanted to. Stephens is under contract but he’ll only pass Orton on the depth chart if the Cowboys decide to drop Orton.
Probability Romo will be the starter in 2013: 100%
Starter – Matthew Stafford
Backup – Shaun Hill, Kellen Moore
Stafford should be locked in as the starter for the foreseeable future. I did find it odd though that the Lion’s GM thought he needed to publicly state that Stafford is the man. They may be looking to re-structure his contract to make it more cap friendly, but unless that somehow turns ugly Stafford will be under center in 2013. Hill is being paid a fair bit to be a back up so maybe Detroit turns him loose, if so he won’t start elsewhere. Moore performed well in pre season and will probably be behind only Stafford on the depth chart come 2013.
Probability Stafford will be the starter in 2013: 95%
Probability Shaun Hill will be the starter in 2013: 0%
Probability Kellen Moore will be the starter in 2013: 5%
Green Bay Packers
Starter – Aaron Rodgers
Backup – Graham Harrell
Rodgers again in 2013, move along, nothing to see here. Harrell was life and death to make the roster as a backup for 2012, if he leaves the Packers I don’t like his chances to find a starter’s job anywhere for 2013.
Probability Rodgers will be the starter in 2013: 100%
Starter – Christian Ponder
Backup – Joe Webb, McLeod Bethel-Thompson
Ponder was hot and cold in 2012, but when he performed well it was apparently more than enough for the Vikings to state he will be the starter in 2013. Despite Webb’s brutal performance in the playoffs he likely showed enough to return as the #2 man behind Ponder, though there are whispers the Vikes may bring in someone else. If Ponder is horrible in pre season and Webb looks good it’s conceivable Webb could win the job, but unlikely. Bethel-Thompson’s 2013 status is unclear at the moment, but it is clear he won’t be starting in Minnesota.
Probability Ponder will be the starter in 2013: 85%
Probability Webb will be the starter in 2013: 5%
Probability Bethel-Thompson will be the starter in 2013: 0%
Probability someone else will be the starter in 2013: 10%
New Orleans Saints
Starter – Drew Brees
Backup – Chase Daniel
Another no-brainer, Brees all the way in 2013. He’s old enough though that you have to consider at least the slight possibility he could call it a career but I don’t see that happening. Daniel is a free agent in 2013 and could possibly be in line for a starter’s role elsewhere, although I haven’t heard any rumors to that effect. The Saints may want to bring him back, if anything happens to Brees they need someone who can step in and perform. Daniel is obviously familiar with the system and has shown in pre season action he’s got skills.
Probability Brees will be the starter in 2013: 95%
Probability Daniel will be the starter in 2013: 5%
Probability someone else will be the starter in 2013: 0%
New York Giants
Starter – Eli Manning
Backup – David Carr
Manning is a lock to be the starter in 2013. Carr is a free agent and seems to be content backing up a player who hasn’t missed a game in nine years. If he does leave he won’t start somewhere else.
Probability Manning will be the starter in 2013: 100%
Starter – Michael Vick
Backup – Nick Foles, Trent Edwards
Now things get interesting. At this point it’s still not clear which way new coach Chip Kelly is going to want to go at QB, but early indications are that he is real big on Foles. That said, I don’t like Foles’ chances of starting this year. I haven’t heard yet if there’s any real indication Vick wants to come back and he must know he’ll have to re-structure his huge contract to do so. One thing’s for sure Trent Edwards will not be the starter in Philadelphia, or anywhere else. He’s under contract for one more year and will seemingly be happy to be the #3 guy again in 2013. If Vick leaves Philly he will start somewhere. In Foles’ case I’d say it’s more like 60/40 he finds a starting job elsewhere. My guess is Vick is released and the Eagles bring in someone, via the draft or free agency, to compete for the starter’s job with Foles.
Probability Vick will be the starter in 2013: 20%
Probability Foles will be the starter in 2013: 35%
Probability Edwards will be the starter in 2013: 0%
Probability someone else will be the starter in 2013: 45%
St. Louis Rams
Starter – Sam Bradford
Backup – Kellen Clemens, Austin Davis
Bradford will start in 2013 guaranteed, almost. Clemens is a free agent and it’s doubtful he’ll be back. Assuming he leaves he won’t be starting anywhere in 2013. The Rams really like undrafted rookie Davis and the feeling is he’ll be right behind Bradford in 2013. If he does somehow get cut from St. Louis keep an eye on him possibly snagging a starter’s job somewhere. He looked great in pre season.
Probability Bradford will be the starter in 2013: 95%
Probability Clemens will be the starter in 2013: 0%
Probability Davis will be the starter in 2013: 5%
Probability someone else will be the starter in 2013: 0%
San Francisco 49ers
Starter – Colin Kaepernick
Backup – Alex Smith, Scott Tolzien
Kaepernick ‘Pipped’ his way to the starting job in San Fran and no matter what happens in the Super Bowl he’ll be the starter in 2013. Smith will not settle for a back up role, nor should he, and the Niners won’t pay him $7.5 million to do that regardless. Look for a trade out of town, most likely into a starter’s job. Tolzien is an affordable option for the backup role. With Kaepernick’s style of play he’s certainly at an increased risk of injury and with San Fran in definite ‘win now’ mode they will probably want a safer option behind Kaepernick. I don’t see Tolzien getting a starter’s job elsewhere if he is let go and he’s affordable enough to keep at third string if San Fran wants to use a roster spot on him.
Probability Kaepernick will start in 2013: 100%
Starter – Russell Wilson
Backup – Matt Flynn
Wilson has the number one job locked up for 2013. Flynn’s contract makes him ill-suited to be a backup even though that’s all he’s ever been thus far. Teams weren’t knocking down his door as a free agent last year so Seattle likely won’t get much for him via trade. Because Wilson’s on a rookie contract the Seahawks can certainly afford to keep Flynn as a high paid backup, which might not be a bad idea given Wilson’s style of play being more conducive to getting banged up and missing at least a game here and there. I haven’t heard Flynn’s opinion on the possibility of warming the bench for another year. If he’s moved out of town, most likely he’ll start somewhere or at least get the chance to win a job.
Probability Wilson will start in 2013: 100%
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Starter – Josh Freeman
Backup – Dan Orlovsky, Adam Weber
Freeman’s starting job is apparently not very secure. Neither side is discussing a contract extension even though he’s going into the final year of his rookie contract. And word is the Bucs will bring in a starting caliber quarterback to compete with Freeman for the 2013 starting gig. The probability of Freeman starting for Tampa will depend on who the Bucs bring in. I assume this is why Tampa hasn’t extended Freeman as the dollar amount they’re willing to pay will be tied to whether he wins the job. Either way he will most likely be with the Bucs in 2013. If not, he’s got a 70/30 shot of starting somewhere else at this point. Much will depend on the timing and what jobs are available elsewhere. Orlovsky is under contract for 2013 but will almost certainly be released if Tampa does bring in someone else. Weber was just signed to a two year future’s contract so it appears he’s in their plans at least as a number three QB. Neither Orlovsky nor Weber is likely to start anywhere if they are not in Tampa next year.
Probability Freeman will start in 2013: 55%
Probability Orlovsky will start in 2013: 0%
Probability Weber will start in 2013: 5%
Probability someone else will start in 2013: 40%
Starter – Robert Griffin III
Backup – Kirk Cousins, Rex Grossman
If he’s healthy Griffin is a lock to start 2013, but at this point I’d take issue with anyone predicting that possibility being better than 50/50. The picture should become at least a bit clearer once he starts his rehab. Fellow 2012 draftee Cousins is the logical choice to start in Griffin’s place. The Skins are still in a building phase, so should let Cousins learn on the job while Griffin recovers. It would be the smart move since there remains a possibility RGIII will never be the same, in which case they need to know if Cousins can carry the load as the franchise QB. Grossman is a free agent in 2013, if Griffin hadn’t gotten injured Grossman surely would not be brought back. But Washington may want to have a veteran familiar with the system and playbook in case RGII isn’t ready and Cousins can’t get the job done. If Grossman leaves he likely won’t be starting anywhere else.
Probability RGIII will start in 2013: 50%
Probability Cousins will start in 2013: 40%
Probability Grossman will start in 2013: 0%
Probability someone else will start in 2013: 10%