NFL Free Agency: Which Quarterback With a New Team Will Have the Most Success?

By Ryan Heckman
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Three quarterbacks have found a new team where they will more than likely end up with the starting gig in an attempt to turn the fates of their respective franchises around. Carson Palmer was traded from the Oakland Raiders to the Arizona Cardinals, where Kevin Kolb failed to meet expectations and headed to the Buffalo Bills. Matt Flynn was then traded from the Seattle Seahawks to the Raiders where he will replace Palmer.

None of these guys appear to be headed to a Pro Bowl anytime soon, but do they offer improvement from where their new teams stood a year ago?

In Arizona, things couldn’t get much worse for the Cardinals offensively last season. Between Kolb and fellow quarterbacks John Skelton and Ryan Lindley, the passing attack never really got off the ground. The three quarterbacks spent plenty of time on the ground, however. New head coach Bruce Arians will surely provide a game plan that can put points on the board, but even with improving their quarterback situation, they still have questions surrounding the offense.

With little to virtually zero running game, what is the Cardinals’ plan in the backfield? Secondly, will the offensive line be able to protect Palmer any better than how they performed last year?

There’s no doubt with Palmer’s experience, the Cardinals now have an improved situation. Larry Fitzgerald should see an increase in production and hopefully be headed back to another Pro Bowl if things shake out according to plan. When it’s all said and done, I see Palmer finishing with numbers around 23 touchdowns and 21 interceptions, an improvement from Arizona’s production last year, but nothing near an elite level of play.

The Raiders believe they have improved in signing the still-unproven Flynn. Last year, Palmer could not quite get their offense going and as a result, Oakland wanted him out. With a backfield that is one of the best when healthy, the Raiders are going to need to get a full season out of stud half back Darren McFadden.

A huge question mark for the Raiders is whether or not they think their current wide receiving corps is good enough going into next year. After getting rid of draft bust Darrius Heyward-Bey, they are left with a talented guy in Denarius Moore and not much else behind him.

I would venture to say Oakland will address this need in the upcoming NFL Draft. If they can secure a second wideout to start alongside Moore, Flynn could wind up having a semi-productive season. I would predict anywhere from 20-26 touchdowns and 14-18 interceptions for the new man under center in 2013.

Lastly, the severely overpaid Kevin Kolb took a trip to Buffalo where he will have some fairly underrated weapons to work with. Former starter Ryan Fitzpatrick was never the right guy to get the Bills on a hot streak offensively, and now they’re hoping Kolb can finally be “the guy”, unlike on his previous two NFL teams.

Kolb will be lucky to have one of the better rushing attacks in the league with Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller in the backfield. Through the air, he will be firing the ball downfield to one of the better receivers in the league in Stevie Johnson as well as an underrated tight end in Scott Chandler.

The Bills may want to grab themselves one other receiver that they can depend on opposite of Johnson or in the slot, and they should be pretty well ready to go come September. For Kolb, it is very hard to predict based on his past performances. I will give him 22 touchdowns and 19 interceptions for his first year in Buffalo.

With this said, it looks like Flynn could wind up the most productive out of the bunch. However, my gut tells me that Oakland will not get a full season out of McFadden, so it would bring his potential way down. Quite honestly, I believe Palmer has the highest potential to improve his new team especially throwing to an All-Pro in Fitzgerald, leaving Kolb as the odd man out to perform the worst.

Only time will tell how this quarterback carousel shakes out.

Ryan Heckman is a Minnesota Timberwolves writer and NFL contributor for Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook, or add him to your network on Google+

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