Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
It's interesting -- at least to me -- that you can rule out only one NFC North team as a potential landing place for pending free agent quarterback Jeff Garcia, who officially learned over the weekend that he won't be returning to Tampa Bay in 2009.
It's relatively safe to assume that Green Bay, with Aaron Rodgers locked in as the starter, won't make a run at Garcia. But you could make an argument that the remainder of the Black and Blue, to varying degrees, could all benefit from signing a quarterback who has experienced immediate success in his two most recent stops.
Take a look at what Garcia did in those instances. In both cases, Garcia guided his team into the playoffs:
Now let's consider Garcia's NFC North possibilities, building up to the situation that makes the most sense from both sides:
Why it might work: The Lions have a logjam of potential "bridge starters" who could hold space for a young quarterback the team could acquire as early this spring. But new coach Jim Schwartz might want to make a clean break from the past, which would eliminate Daunte Culpepper, Dan Orlovsky, Drew Stanton and even Jon Kitna from consideration. All things equal, you might choose Garcia over each of those candidates regardless.
Why it won't happen: Garcia already has had one disastrous experience in Detroit. He is known primarily for his success in the West Coast offense, but new coordinator Scott Linehan is more closely associated with the "three-digit" downfield passing style. Garcia isn't likely to want to finish his career in a rebuilding situation.
Why it might work: The Bears aren't committed to starter Kyle Orton beyond the 2009 season, and general manager Jerry Angelo has made the position his highest priority. That makes it hard to believe the Bears will enter 2009 without at least an experienced backup for Orton; Garcia might be the best candidate available. The Bears don't run a West Coast offense per se, but Garcia would quickly develop relationships with the team's veterans.
Why it won't happen: Garcia might be more of a challenge than the Bears want to pose for Orton. If they're trying to coax Orton to long-term success, the Bears are best off with a backup who can fill in if Orton falters. That's different than a backup who can beat him out on merit in training camp. Garcia also does nothing to solve the longer-term quarterback issue should Orton fail.
Why it might work: The Vikings run the type of West Coast offense Garcia has excelled in. He has a quick release, is mobile and has thrown only 14 interceptions in the past three seasons. He could assume the starting job right away and give Tarvaris Jackson more time to develop. Garcia should be attracted to the Vikings' offensive weapons, from receiver Bernard Berrian to tight end Visanthe Shiancoe to tailback Adrian Peterson.
Why it won't happen: Coach Brad Childress has been loyal to Jackson and will give him every opportunity to succeed. The Vikings had a chance to sign Garcia two years ago and passed. If Garcia does his homework, he'll find out that at least two veteran quarterbacks -- Brad Johnson and Gus Frerotte -- ended their seasons disenchanted with their roles.
Chances: Possible going on intriguing