Free Agent Preview: Quarterback

Posted Feb 27, 2013

As teams search free agency and the draft up and down looking for the next franchise quarterback, the Rams are paying almost no attention to the position.

Rams general manager Les Snead openly acknowledged a couple weeks ago that he was doing almost no research on this year’s quarterbacks group while he focuses on other, greater needs.

Coach Jeff Fisher took it a step further at last weekend’s NFL combine when he was asked directly about the backup quarterback spot behind incumbent starter Sam Bradford.

With only Bradford and second-year signal caller Austin Davis under contract for the 2013 season, an outsider might view the Rams as a team in the market for a backup or at least the possibility that they could bring Kellen Clemens back to again provide a veteran presence at the position.

But Fisher made it clear once again that Bradford is the guy as the starter and beyond that, Fisher also acknowledged the team’s high hopes for Davis by essentially anointing him as Bradford’s backup for 2013.

“We are happy with his progress,” Fisher said. “Still there is a possibility we will bring Kellen back. Kellen is an outstanding locker room guy and very competitive. If that were the case we’d probably flip them where Austin would be 2 and Kellen would be 3. We got a chance to see Austin in the preseason and he’s got some ability.”

In other words, with free agency set to open on March 12, the Rams don’t figure to be in the market to shop for another quarterback to add to the mix.

Bradford enters his fourth season entrenched as the starter after making some noticeable improvements in 2012, particularly in terms of late-game situations and showing an improved knack for feeling the pass rush and using his legs to extend plays.

When the season was over, Bradford had posted 3,702 yards and 21 touchdowns with 13 interceptions while completing 59.5 percent of his passes for a career-best rating of 82.5.

Now, Bradford is about to embark on a big season with the chance to play in the same offense under the same coordinator (Brian Schottenheimer) for the first time in his NFL career.

The Rams will also have another offseason to add weapons and protection for Bradford and will expect big things from No. 8 in 2013.

Davis spent a season in a veritable apprenticeship as he was inactive for every game except the opener against Detroit. In that year, Davis threw no passes and spent his time learning from Bradford, Clemens, Schottenheimer and quarterbacks coach Frank Cignetti.

In the preseason, though, Davis showed some exciting promise, particularly with his ability to make something out of nothing. Although it should be noted he played mostly against backups from other teams, Davis was 22-of-34 for 220 yards with no touchdowns and an interception in the preseason.

Clemens appeared in two games and completed one of three passes for 39 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. The veteran’s familiarity with Schottenheimer’s system proved valuable in helping Bradford and Davis in their first year in it but as Fisher points out, it’s no guarantee he’ll be retained in 2013.

Of course, it’s probably a good thing for the Rams that they don’t find themselves searching for a quarterback in what appears to be one of the most quarterback-poor years in recent memory both in the draft and free agency.

Baltimore’s Joe Flacco would be one of the most coveted free agents in NFL history were he to hit the open market but it is almost certain the Ravens will use the franchise tag on him and ensure he remains with the Super Bowl champions.

Beyond that, though, there simply doesn’t seem to be much of anything on the market, especially after it was revealed that San Francisco struck a deal to trade Alex Smith to Kansas City on Monday and Philadelphia opted to keep Michael Vick earlier in the offseason.

That leaves the likes of Miami’s Matt Moore, Arizona’s Brian Hoyer and Kansas City’s Brady Quinn as potential options for teams in need of a backup but not much available for teams searching for a starter.


1. Joe Flacco, Baltimore (Likely Franchise Tag): The Ravens will almost certainly keep him.
2. Matt Moore, Miami: A solid contributor more suited to working as a backup.
3. Brian Hoyer, Arizona: The Cardinals added him late in the year for a look see. Could be a solid No. 2 with potential to start in certain spots.
4. Brady Quinn, Kansas City: Never reached his potential in any of his stops. Has starting experience, though and could make a decent backup.
5. Jason Campbell, Chicago: Longtime veteran has plenty of experience but struggled when called to start last year. A solid backup at this point.

Others to Watch: Chase Daniel, New Orleans

Rams Free Agents: Kellen Clemens