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Sam Farmer / ON THE NFL

NFL teams in the West are in the middle of quarterback shuffle

Oakland, San Francisco and Seattle acquire or trade players at the position, and Arizona could join in soon.

April 01, 2013|By Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times
  • Former Seattle backup quarterback Matt Flynn will compete for the starting job with the Oakland Raiders.
Former Seattle backup quarterback Matt Flynn will compete for the starting… (Joe Mahoney / Associated…)

A year after Denver made a huge splash by signing Peyton Manning, smaller yet significant quarterback moves have rippled west.

Oakland, San Francisco and Seattle either acquired or dealt noteworthy passers Monday, and Arizona could be next to tweak its roster. All the jostling could have an effect on how early the top college quarterbacks will be selected in this month's draft.

The Raiders traded for Seattle's Matt Flynn, sending the Seahawks two future draft picks for the quarterback who backed up rookie sensation Russell Wilson last season.

"Matt is a tough football player, and a talented quarterback," said Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie, whose team traded its fifth-round pick in the 2014 draft to the Seahawks, as well as a conditional pick in 2015. "He will get the opportunity to compete to be a starter with the Raiders. I believe Matt has that potential, but I also know he hasn't had enough experience. We're going to let him compete and battle, and see what happens."

Oakland simultaneously worked on a deal to ship quarterback Carson Palmer to Arizona, a trade that appeared imminent Monday. Cardinals castoff Kevin Kolb signed with Buffalo over the weekend.

San Francisco, meanwhile, traded for Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy, giving up a pittance to secure a potential backup to Colin Kaepernick. McCoy fills the vacancy created by Alex Smith, who last month signed with Kansas City.

The Flynn-to-Oakland deal reunites that largely untested veteran with McKenzie, who was director of player personnel in Green Bay when Flynn was the backup to Packers starter Aaron Rodgers.

The Raiders were working on trading Palmer, 33, who recently refused to take a pay cut on his $13-million salary. Dealing him to the Cardinals presumably would be contingent upon his agreeing to a pay reduction with his new team.

Even without Palmer, the Cardinals are overflowing with quarterbacks but no clear starter. They cut John Skelton on Monday, but still have Drew Stanton, Ryan Lindley and Brian Hoyer. New Coach Bruce Arians is a quarterback specialist who has worked with Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck.

McCoy, supplanted in Cleveland last season by rookie Brandon Weeden, dropped another notch when the Browns recently added Jason Campbell. McCoy is expected to compete for the No. 2 job with Scott Tolzien.

As for how all the shuffling could affect the draft, Jacksonville remains on the lookout for a quarterback at No. 2, but Oakland (No. 3), Arizona (7), and Buffalo (8) will have more pressing needs, provided that the Cardinals complete a deal for Palmer. That could mean one of those teams bails out of its spot, trading the pick to a quarterback-needy team, or that there could be an early run on players of another position.

The New York Jets figure to give strong consideration to using the No. 9 pick on a quarterback, and it's not inconceivable that the San Diego Chargers would lean that way at 11, considering they have a new coach in Mike McCoy and a turnover-prone starter in Philip Rivers.

Jacksonville has the No. 2 pick, and the Jaguars have been carefully evaluating this field of quarterback prospects. Coach Gus Bradley was part of a Jacksonville contingent that attended the pro days of West Virginia's Geno Smith and USC's Matt Barkley.

Asked recently about Barkley, whom he recruited to USC, Seattle Coach Pete Carroll said he's convinced the former Trojans quarterback is destined to succeed in the pros.

"He's got the background, he's got the savvy, he's got the character…" Carroll said. "Somebody's going to figure it out and take him, and he's going to be a hell of a quarterback for them.

"It depends on what team he goes to, but if they have an opportunity for him, he's going to start. He's got everything you could ever look for."

Twitter: @LATimesFarmer

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