During this offseason's NFL free agency period, the Texans have been quite the pain in the ass to the Denver Broncos.
There is, of course, the minor free agency hemorrhoid that they caused by signing away running back Lamar Miller from the Dolphins, which caused the Dolphins to splurge on a four-year, $18 million offer sheet for Broncos free agent RB C.J. Anderson, which then forced Broncos President and GM John Elway to match the offer because, ye gods, things are falling apart at the seams in Denver!
Then there are the massive roster fissures the Texans have caused the Broncos at the quarterback position by signing away Brock Osweiler, an asset entering his prime years that the Broncos spent the resources grooming to take over for Peyton Manning after Osweiler's rookie deal was up. Now, the Broncos and Elway have to actually act like they're excited about the possibility of Mark Sanchez defending their Super Bowl title...
Acquired QB Mark Sanchez for a conditional '17 pick. He brings veteran leadership & will compete. This is the 1st step in our process.— John Elway (@johnelway) March 11, 2016
It's sad, really. A proud exec like Elway having to force-feed Sanchez to his fan base, and having the gall to allude to a nebulous "process," a process that somehow has a step in it that says, "1. Acquire Mark Sanchez," a broken process if there ever was one.
But even more than the uncertainty heaped upon the Broncos themselves, the Texans' acquisition of Osweiler has had a ripple effect that extends from the Rocky Mountains all the way back to the East Coast. That the Broncos' starting quarterback job is still available (sorry, Sanchez) has essentially left a seat open in this game of QB musical chairs, a seat that some poor, delusional signal callers (Yes, you, Fitzy!) think is going to give them the leverage to get paid...or, hell, maybe even give them a restart as a frontline guy in the NFL. (Yes, you, RG3!)
So let's take a look at the game of QB musical chairs being played right now and see where we stand as of St. Patrick's Day.
STARTING JOBS OPEN FOR SURE: Cleveland, New York Jets, Denver Broncos
STARTING JOBS SHAKY: Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco (if they trade Colin Kaepernick)
So what happens now with all of the players involved, and who is starting for an NFL team come training camp and who is the kid who's standing there about to cry as all the other kids slide into chairs when the music stops? Let's examine, and I'll also tell you where I think each will wind up.
(NOTE: I would add a field for where I think each SHOULD wind up, but it's easier to just say that they should all be climbing over themselves to go to Denver and start for a team that still has legitimate Super Bowl aspirations in 2016.)
As it currently stands, Fitzpatrick is in a staring contest with the New York Jets, for whom he threw more than 30 touchdown passes and led to ten wins last season. Fitzy is wanting that Osweiler/Bradford money ($18 million per year), while the Jets are reportedly stuck at around $7 million per year in their offer. Team Fitzpatrick is desperately wanting the suddenly QB-starved Broncos to get involved in the bidding, since Fitzy is one team shy of making this a bidding war (Hint: You need two teams for a war.), but there's one problem — the entire league knows that Fitzpatrick is one big walking, talking "deal with the devil," a Cinderella who WILL turn back into a pumpkin at any moment.
FITZY PREDICTION: Starter for the Jets at around $10 million per year
Robert Griffin III
RG3 is an interesting one because, of all the guys who are available to be had without any draft pick compensation or a goofy, out-of-whack contract, he is the one with the most upside, if we consider "upside" to be "what we've seen him do before." I mean, he was better than Andrew Luck in their rookie year. And now he's being used as leverage by the Jets to get Fitzy off the pot. With the free agent market settling in, I think now we see RG3 go on a mini-tour of sorts, trying to find the best place to truly rehab his career for a year. Atlanta, with Kyle Shanahan as the OC, is a dark horse. Still, I'd crawl over glass to play for Kubiak if I were RG3.
RG3 PREDICTION: Signs with Denver, beats out Sanchez for starting job
So Kaepernick's career (and his $12 million per year contract) is teetering on the brink of complete annihilation, and the one coach who can save him (Chip Kelly) gets hired by the Niners. So what does Kaep do? Demands a trade! And, on top of that, says that he would be okay going to Cleveland! Kaepernick is like that kid who busts out a 780 on the math portion of the SAT, then proceeds to apply to art school. In Russia. Wisely, Kaepernick seems to have cooled on wanting to leave the Niners. I think.
KAEP PREDICTION: Starter for the 49ers
I wonder how it felt for Hoyer to hear the answer to the question about his status during the Osweiler press conference. "As of now, Brian Hoyer is still on our roster and part of our team." Greeeeaaat. That's like filling out paperwork at your kid's school and still checking off the box for MARRIED while you're in the middle of finalizing a divorce.
HOYER PREDICTION: I pray every night he winds up in Denver just because it'd be hilarious, but I think the Texans flip him to the most desperate team for a veteran QB for a seventh-round pick
I'm throwing the Bengals backup QB in here, not because he's going anywhere but because the Broncos would be making a phone call to the Bengals about his availability. In a sample size where teams have paid before (four starts, 5 TD, 1 INT, would've won a playoff game if Vontaze Burfict weren't a freaking moron), McCarron represents youth, upside, smarts...he just feels like a guy that Kubiak could groom into something that is about 25 percent better than he really is. (In actuality, I still think the Bengals should try to get multiple high picks for Andy Dalton and turn the reins over to McCarron. But that's just me.)
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McCARRON PREDICTION: Backing up Andy Dalton in Cincy, because nobody has any balls
All these damn rookies
For now, I'll slot them like this...
LYNCH: Los Angeles Rams
COOK: Unexpected team with a veteran drafting a groomable guy
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.