The first quarterback competition of 2015 actually began in December. That's when the Chicago Bears benched Jay Cutler, the player with the biggest contract in the NFL, for Jimmy Clausen, the player that is Jimmy Clausen.
Clausen's stint as the starter lasted all of one game, but it seemed apparent that at least Cutler's days as the alpha bear in Chicago were over.
Trade rumors were persistently floating around Cutler like a halo of doom, new head coach John Fox wouldn't commit to Cutler as a part of the future, and it was even suggested that the Bears would give up a good draft pick just to get rid of his contract. Except that by early March, after Chicago quickly realized that they could not move Cutler's contract, and that Clausen was still Clausen, they ended any competition by naming Cutler, their only real option of a starting QB, as the starting QB.
And that's how Cutler "earned" his 10th season of being an NFL starter. However, it may not be long before he earns his way back to the bench, no matter the cost.
Around the NFL, there are still a good number of ongoing QB competitions.
Buffalo Bills -- Matt Cassel, E.J. Manuel, Tyrod Taylor
The Bills' problems at quarterback are so bad that if you don't win the starting job, you could be out of the NFL entirely. That's a possibility facing Cassel, who is rumored to be a cap casualty candidate just months after Buffalo traded for him. The only plausible way that he can save himself and hold onto the entirety of his 2015 salary (the Bills will save $4.75 million by releasing him, with no dead money left on the books) is to win the starting job.
Given his recent history of attempting to play football, that won't be easy.
Over the last four seasons, split between the Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings, Cassel has appeared in 30 games, completed 59.1 percent of his passes and thrown 30 touchdowns and 34 interceptions with a passer rating of 74.0. The Chiefs and Vikings had rather abysmal receivers for the most part, but unless Percy Harvin was hit on the head by a frying pan and remembered how to play football, it's not like Buffalo has a bunch of talent outside of Sammy Watkins.
By virtue of being much younger and having a fully guaranteed salary, Manuel would have to pull a disappearing act on par with Dave Chappelle to lose this job. It's possible that Taylor has been the NFL's best-kept secret, but did John Harbaugh really have a future starter on his bench for four years and not at least maneuver a trade to get something in return for him?
Winner: Manuel, Cassel cut, Taylor backup
Houston Texans -- Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, Tom Savage
The best part about this QB competition is we get to watch it play out on Hard Knocks.
The worst part about this QB competition is we have to watch it play out on Hard Knocks.
Hoyer and Mallett were once in the same shoes that Patriots' backup Jimmy Garoppolo is in now -- the "heir apparent" to Tom Brady -- but that plan didn't work out for either of them. Now they're facing off against each other in Houston to be a starter that isn't expected to take over games, but to just make as few mistakes as possible.
Hoyer was kind of doing that for a little while in Cleveland last season but finished the year with two touchdowns and nine interceptions over his last six games. Hoyer and Mallett faced off in Week 11, and it was Mallett's only career victory.
His next win will come on Hard Knocks.
Cleveland Browns -- Josh McCown, Johnny Manziel, Thad Lewis, Connor Shaw
The Browns don't really have much of a QB competition -- the job is McCown's to lose -- but that's the problem: At some point, whether it's the summer or Week 5, McCown will lose it. He's just not much of an NFL quarterback.
After spending 10 seasons as a backup with the Cardinals, Lions, Raiders, Panthers and Bears, McCown had a seven-game stint where he was amazing: 13 touchdowns, one interception, 109.8 passer rating in place of an injured Cutler in 2013. He wasn't able to retain the job over a healthy Cutler, but he did parlay it into being the starter in Tampa Bay last season.
It didn't take long to remember why he was a backup for 10 years, or to realize that while he was with the Bears, he was playing with two Pro Bowl receivers, a Pro Bowl tight end, and in an offense designed by Marc Trestman, one of the smartest passing coaches in the league.
He went 1-10 as the Bucs starter and was released midway through his two-year contract.
Winner: McCown in the beginning, but eventually the team will turn to Manziel one last time once their playoff chances are well out of sight, which could be sometime in November.
New York Jets -- Geno Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bryce Petty
Of all the quarterbacks in the league that have been terrible over the last few years, Smith may be the most talented. What's so frustrating about him isn't the mistakes he makes, but the brilliance he flashes in between those many mistakes.
Many, many mistakes.
You should expect every QB to have worse numbers in his losses than in his wins, but the disparity for Smith is more prodigious than most. In 11 career wins, Smith has posted a passer rating of 96.4 with 15 touchdowns and six interceptions, but in his 19 career losses he has thrown 28 interceptions and has a rating of 56.2.
Meanwhile, Fitzpatrick had a passer rating of 95.3 with the Texans last year and nary a soul batted an eyelash. That might be because the numbers were heavily lifted during a six-touchdown, zero-interception game against the Titans near the end of the season.
Fitzpatrick offers pretty much no upside, and he's hardly even the "safe" choice, as he's thrown at least one interception in 61 percent of his 97 career games.
Tennessee Titans -- Marcus Mariota, Zach Mettenberger, Charlie Whitehurst
Mettenberger could be commended for not giving up without a fight, but even if he forces a competition, it should only fuel Mariota to get better more so than actually give Mettenberger a chance to start over the No. 2 pick.
In six starts last season, Mettenberger had some OK numbers and played well above what you'd expect out of a sixth-round rookie, but he also played in blowout after blowout, when numbers can be skewed way outside of what actual talent lies within the player.
If Mettenberger looks really good in the preseason, it probably just means he'll be shipped to one of the QB-needy teams listed here.
Washington Redskins -- Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy
Griffin is the starter, but that was also true of each of the last two summers and he ended those respective seasons as not the starter. He has pretty much only experienced NFL success in the vacuum of a five-game stretch in 2012 when he threw 12 touchdowns and two interceptions and flipped Washington from 3-6 to NFC East Champions.
Since having his knee obliterated in the playoffs that year, we have seen little that reminds us of that same QB that won Offensive Rookie of the Year over Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson. That is due to a combination of the knee injury, having a new head coach, a new offensive coordinator and a new offensive game plan that doesn't include the zone-read option that caught the league off guard that year.
Can Griffin be a great quarterback for Jay Gruden? We have no evidence of that, which is why the battle for No. 2 between Cousins and McCoy may be as important as some other competitions around the league to be number one.
Winner: Griffin initially, but would Washington consider trading him if Cousins or McCoy have a good preseason showing?
Philadelphia Eagles -- Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley, Tim Tebow
The Tebow comeback trail could take him all the way to a roster spot with the most unpredictable team in the NFL, or it could end any day now. However, it probably won't take him to the top of the depth chart unless Bradford gets injured.
Oh wait, maybe Tebow could start for the Eagles this season.
The job definitely belongs to Bradford, but it's not only a distinct possibility that he does get seriously injured, we don't even know if he's going to make it to Week 1. After that, the job should go to Sanchez, who has a guaranteed base salary of $2.5 million, but that won't change the fact that he's still Mark Sanchez.
That's when the competition for third string between Barkley and Tebow could end up being a competition to be Chip Kelly's midseason starter.
While Tebow has done nothing for the last two years, Barkley has basically done less-than-nothing (no touchdowns, four interceptions) since entering the NFL in 2013.
Winner: Bradford now, but potentially Tebow at some point down the line.
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Kenneth Arthur is a freelance writer currently covering the NFL at Rolling Stone and the Seattle Seahawks at FieldGulls.com. His work has also been found at Football Outsiders and SB Nation, and he thinks Andrew Luck is "just OK."