An early look at the QB market

Sam Bradford and Colin Kaepernick are two of six NFL quarterbacks who will need to prove their worthiness to their respective teams. Getty Images

By now, Christmas shopping is just about complete. But offseason wish lists still are being compiled, and will be for some time. At the top of most desperate NFL teams' wish lists are, of course, quarterbacks. Without a solid one, consistent winning is virtually impossible.

Teams expected to be in the quarterback market include the Jets, Browns, Texans, Cowboys, Eagles, Redskins, 49ers and Rams, along with perhaps others.

Here are the quarterbacks, in alphabetical order, that teams already have begun studying, reviewing and contemplating. With two games left, these are the guys to watch:

Philadelphia's Sam Bradford: A pending free agent, if Bradford joined another team next season, he would become the first No. 1 overall pick at quarterback to play for three teams within his first seven NFL seasons.

New Orleans' Drew Brees: His $30 million salary-cap number for next season is scheduled to be the highest in NFL history; it is not expected to stand. The question is whether the two sides restructure it or lop it off the Saints' payroll.

Washington's Kirk Cousins: He is scheduled to be a free agent after this season, but Washington always could use its franchise tag on Cousins. If not, it's risky. John Elway could ask his friend Mike Shanahan for insight into Cousins, or Shanahan himself could make a run at Cousins if he re-enters the league in some capacity.

San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick: His three playoff road wins are the most in franchise history, more than both Joe Montana and Steve Young, but he could not get it done this season. San Francisco has not closed the door on bringing him back, but most expect Kaepernick and the 49ers to part ways, ideally allowing him to go to a team with an imaginative offensive playbook.

Denver's Peyton Manning: Denver is not expected to bring his contract back, not with all the cap costs it would bring. The real question is whether Manning will want to continue playing. There is some serious skepticism around the league that he will.

Cleveland's Johnny Manziel: First Cleveland must figure out who is making decisions and coaching next season. Once that's finalized, it can figure out exactly what to do with Manziel, though a marriage with the Dallas Cowboys has to be considered a logical option if Cleveland opts to trade him.

Denver's Brock Osweiler: Also on an expiring contract, his value is difficult to calculate. It's hard to imagine Denver will be willing to pay him as an elite starting quarterback, yet with all the teams in the league desperate at the position, someone will.

It's an interesting collection, this crop of quarterbacks who could or will be available. These are the players who will help determine whether their teams are shopping for new general managers and head coaches in future seasons.

An added incentive for the Jets

For as much success as Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick have enjoyed throughout their careers, and especially this season, there is still something neither player has accomplished.

Neither Marshall nor Fitzpatrick has played in a playoff game.

It is hard to imagine. Marshall has played in 150 NFL games and Fitzpatrick 111, but all have been in the regular season. While Marshall is having a career year with 93 catches, tying former wide receiver Al Toon for the most single-season receptions in Jets history, the teams he has played on (the Broncos, Dolphins, Bears and Jets) have combined for a 75-75 record. Marshall has played largely on .500 teams, but over time he has morphed into a game-changer on and off the field.

On the field, Marshall is the first receiver to have 1,000-yard receiving seasons for four different franchises. Off the field, he has become a crusader for mental health, helping people work through serious issues.

Fitzpatrick has posted a 47-63-1 NFL record, yet he has established himself this season as one of the most valuable Jets players. While many are focusing on who could be the Jets' quarterback of the future, few people have proved to be or might turn out to be better than Fitzpatrick has been.

To reach the postseason, the Jets still are going to need help from the Chiefs, Steelers and even the Broncos. At least one of those teams will have to lose at least one game while the Jets will have to find a way to beat the Patriots, then win at Buffalo. None of this is going to be easy.

But it would be an ideal capper to a truly impressive regular season if Marshall and Fitzpatrick could finally reach the postseason.