[size=18px]Top quarterbacks still hardest to find[/size]

The NFL is starved for quality quarterbacks. Why else would the two hottest commodities be Daunte Culpepper and Drew Brees?

On The Nfl Mark Craig, Star Tribune
Last update: March 11, 2006 – 12:05 AM

According to Marv Levy's best educated guess, the Vikings are but one of the 78.125 percent of NFL teams dealing with quarterback "issues."
"Of the 32 of us, I'm going to say about 25 have a quarterback situation brewing," said Levy, the Bills' Hall of Fame former coach who has returned to the team as GM.

While the Bills pick between a probably-never-was (Kelly Holcomb) and a probably-never-will-be (J.P. Losman), the Vikings have been leading the league in "brewing" quarterback situations since long before Daunte Culpepper finally asked to be traded or released earlier this week. The Vikings granted his request and reportedly have a deal in place to trade him.

Brad Johnson is a capable starter. But his age and the team's lack of a veteran backup or quarterback of the future means the Vikings' quarterback situation is far from resolved. It might be just beginning.

Levy didn't name the seven fortunate teams with stress-free quarterback situations. But it doesn't take Bill Walsh to figure out five of them are New England, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Carolina and Seattle. Between them, they combined for a 59-21 record (.738), five playoff appearances, two conference titles and a Super Bowl championship in 2005.

"Quarterback is the most important position in professional sports," Titans General Manager Floyd Reese said, "and right now we're kind of in flux."

The lack of depth at quarterback throughout the league is overshadowed by the successes of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger. Or the excitement and commerical appeal of Michael Vick.

But underneath the glitter, there are, as Levy said, many situations brewing.

Green Bay is on hold until Brett Favre decides his future. The Jets, Bengals and Eagles are waiting to see how their QBs bounce back from injuries.

The Titans have age and cap issues to sort through with Steve McNair. And Cleveland wonders whether Charlie Frye or Trent Dilfer is the best fit.

In Chicago, Bears coach Lovie Smith insists Rex Grossman is his quarterback. "Period," he said. "End of discussion." But you know the potential for a controversy is there with Kyle Orton on the bench.

The 49ers, Ravens, Chargers and the Giants have varying degrees of uncertainty about their young quarterbacks. Meanwhile, the Cardinals, Redskins, Chiefs and Vikings hope their old guys can go another year.

In Detroit, Houston and New Orleans, the question isn't age but talent. Then there are Miami and Oakland, which basically have nobody, which is why they have pursued Culpepper so heavily.

The Dolphins and Raiders aren't the only teams desperate for a quarterback. Otherwise, the two hottest commodities on the market wouldn't be Culpepper and Drew Brees, two guys still recovering from significant injuries. Culpepper is a mobile quarterback with a bum knee, and Brees is a pocket passer who tore the labrum in his throwing shoulder.

"The Patriots struck gold with a player that nobody could have predicted would have the same intangibles that Joe Montana had," said Cardinals coach Dennis Green. "Now, the rest of it, it fell into place for them. But I don't think you could emulate that unless you think you could find a Tom Brady just out there somewhere."

For 78.125 percent of the league, the search continues.

Top quarterbacks still hardest to find