Maybe the Packers were NFC North trend setters in 2008 when they made the transition from QB Brett Favre to QB Aaron Rodgers. With Detroit's announcement that they've signed Georgia QB Matthew Stafford and will select him with the No. 1 overall pick tomorrow, every non-Packer team in the NFC North is probably going with a new starting QB in 2009.
By the way, if your wondering what issues will come up in the next labor battle - rookie contracts.
Rodgers signed his contract extension back in November and he's now scheduled to receive just over $40 million for 2009 through 2011. It made him the 4th highest paid QB in the NFL. That's pretty high for a QB that's never been to a Pro Bowl and had only about 10 NFL starts by that point. But he played well in 2008 and a 25 year old QB who had proven himself in the NFL was going to get a big contract from someone.
But Stafford, who's obviously done nothing in the NFL yet, is already scheduled to be paid almost $42 million. If he's a complete bust, he's still likely to be paid more over the next three seasons then Rodgers. I'd be livid if I was an NFL veteran.
Back to the NFC North. So here's how the new QB additions compare:
Chicago - QB Jay Cutler. I just don't see how this trade hurts Chicago. As WCG said, he's arguably the best QB Chicago has had in decades and he hasn't even done anything in Chicago yet. They signed LT Orlando Pace to protect him, but that offense is very mediocre otherwise. The Cutler/Rodgers comparison will be ongoing in 2009 and beyond.
Detroit - QB Matthew Stafford. I'm not a fan, his barely 57% completion rate in college is not inspiring, although the guy has legitimate talent. Detroit's fans aren't excited either. Bill Barnwell explained at Football Outsiders.com why Detroit fans should not be excited:
Stafford was directly preceded at Georgia by the recently retired David Greene; both spent their entire college careers under head coach Mark Richt in similar offensive systems. Stafford's college numbers are actually worse than Greene's, with the latter completing 59 percent of his passes and averaging 8.01 yards per attempt to Stafford's 7.83. If Stafford was really a star in the making, wouldn't he have put up better numbers, in the same system, than a guy who washed out of the NFL without taking a professional snap? If it was our $25 million guaranteed, the answer would need to be yes.
Minnesota - QB Sage Rosenfels. He has to beat out QB Tavaris Jackson, but I bet he does. Vikings' fans aren't impressed, this post titled "Vikings to Acquire Rosenfels, Give Up Hope" pretty much sums it up. Gonzo didn't even want to consider trading for WR Anquan Boldin because of the weak QB roster.