QB guessing game Where do all those high-profile rejects fit best? By Hub Arkush (firstname.lastname@example.org) May 24, 2004 For all that has been made of the sudden emergences of Jake Delhomme, Tom Brady, Trent Dilfer and Kurt Warner from mediocrity and obscurity to being Super Bowl and Pro Bowl-caliber quarterbacks over the past five seasons, there is one thing that hasn’t changed and most likely never will. Without a quarterback playing near a Pro Bowl level, no team will win a Super Bowl. With that in mind, you have to wonder just what clubs like the Rams and Giants are thinking as they send talents like Warner and Kerry Collins packing with no guarantees their successors, Marc Bulger and Eli Manning, respectively, will ever perform at a Super Bowl level. Is it as simple as the realities of the salary cap leaving the Rams with no choice but to gamble on Bulger, and the Giants knowing the rest of their club is so far from being ready for a Super Bowl that there’s no point keeping Collins around to potentially hinder the development of Manning? In the Rams’ case, if it were just a question of the cap space required for Warner and Bulger, they’d be wiser to find a way to bite the bullet and pay both of them. But the problem is, of course, much bigger than that. With megabucks committed to Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt, the perpetual contract squabbles with Orlando Pace, and the possibility that the huge dollars they owe Leonard Little could become dead cap space if off-the-field problems keep him sidelined, there’s just no way the Rams can afford to pay two starting quarterbacks. Warner must go and will be available to any club willing to gamble he still has Super skills, and that his wife, Brenda, isn’t really the distraction/problem some believe she was in St. Louis. The Giants’ unwillingness to hang on to Collins for another year or two was in some ways motivated by the cap as well. Because I love the move Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi made to go get Manning (if you believe Eli is the real deal, and I do, opportunities to snare a franchise QB pop up once a decade or so), I understand moving Collins. I don’t necessarily agree with putting Manning directly into the starting lineup and would have preferred to see him watch Collins for a while, but with the Giants’ glaring needs on the offensive line and in other spots, Collins was a luxury who had to go. This all would seem to make the question of the moment crystal clear. Which clubs would be best-suited and best-served by making Warner and Collins the next two big winners in free agency, and which of the two signalcallers is the better catch? It’s a close call as to which player is most likely to have the most left in his tank. They are close in age, and while Warner has been continuously banged up the last two seasons, he has taken far less of a beating over his career due to his nomadic beginnings, while Collins has been a starter in the league since he was a top pick in 1995. Ever since the Patriots’ upset of Warner and the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI, when Warner has been on the field, he has struggled. Collins has been neither brilliant nor awful since leading the Giants to Super Bowl XXXV, and he has never played to the MVP level that Warner did twice. Unless you’re convinced Warner was a product of the system and the incredible talent around him over those three magical seasons in St. Louis, or that he’ll never be healthy again, Warner would seem to get the nod over Collins. If anything has been proven in the NFL in recent years, it’s that the last thing in the world Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome needs is personnel advice from me. But I can’t find a more likely suspect anywhere in the league for the team that should be first in line for a sitdown once Warner gets his walking papers in St. Louis. I understand Baltimore invested very heavily in Kyle Boller last year to be the Ravens’ quarterback of the future, but if ever a rookie QB thrown to the wolves from Day One proved the future isn’t now, it was Boller last year. Baltimore is Super Bowl-ready on defense right now, but offensively the only weapons they had at the end of last year were Todd Heap; Anthony Wright, who is out of the picture following shoulder surgery; Marcus Robinson, who has moved on to Minnesota; and Jamal Lewis, who, like Little, faces off-the-field issues that could interfere with his ’04 campaign. A Super Bowl QB couldn’t have become available at a better time. As for Collins, reports out of the Big Apple indicate he could be signed to a three-year contract by the Raiders sometime this week, with QB Rich Gannon, who's coming off a shoulder injury, getting the heave-ho. Before hearing this news, the best place for Collins to land, in my opinion, would have been Dallas, where he would have been a definite improvement over either Quincy Carter or Chad Hutchinson and a perfect mentor for Drew Henson. If Gannon is indeed history in Oakland, then I think he would look just as good as Collins in a Cowboys uniform.