A team is only as good as its quarterback. That's not particularly insightful but it's the reality of today's NFL. Just look at the Super Bowl-winning teams dating back to the 2002 season.
In Super Bowl XXXVII, Brad Johnson was the beneficiary of a fantastic Buccaneers defense (it didn't hurt that Jon Gruden seemed to know what the Raiders were doing before the Raiders did). But in the 11 championship games since, the names of the winning signal callers include Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Joe Flacco and Russell Wilson.
We bring this up because with free agency a few weeks away, there will be plenty of NFL teams looking for their franchise quarterback. But with demand outstripping supply this means that, invariably, backups like veteran Michael Vick could get another opportunity to be a starter.
"There are too many teams that are in need of an upgrade for him not to be looked at as a starter," a personnel executive told NFL.com's Judy Battista. "I could see a team signing him, and developing a young guy. Vick could be a very good bridge starter for two to three years."
It's the same philosophy the Chiefs took with Alex Smith last offseason. After winning just twice in 2012, Kansas City started 9-0 in 2013, eventually finishing 11-5 and almost beating the Colts in wild-card round of the playoffs.
Most personnel types would take Vick's athleticism over Smith's steady-as-she-goes game-manager approach, and the personnel executive told Battista that he would rate Vick as a mid-tier quarterback option, somewhere between 13th and 16th, making him average or slightly better when compared to the 31 other starting quarterbacks.
The rest of the 2014 free-agent quarterback class includes Chad Henne, Josh Freeman, Matt Cassel, Shaun Hill, Rex Grossman, Josh McCown, Kellen Clemens, Derek Anderson and Matt Flynn (and likely Matt Schaub and Mark Sanchez if they're released by the Texans and Jets, respectively). And when Vick is compared to that cast of characters, there really is no debate: He is the best of the bunch. Whether that's worth paying a 34-year-old who struggles to stay healthy like an NFL starter is another question, but one we could know the answer to in the coming weeks.