I think most of us can agree that the primary problem the past two seasons has been at QB. It is unfortunate that Henne has not developed into a solid starter. I think it especially hurts us because we've seen Tom Brady in our division for nearly a decade, and yet we are still yearning for the days of Marino. Are we close to getting a franchise QB? Nobody really knows if we are going to land one in this draft, next year's draft, or if Henne will get his act together. However, we can address the problem at QB this offseason, and significantly improve our team at the lowest cost possible: By signing a veteran QB who can fill or exceed the role that Pennington played in 2008.
IMHO, Bulger and Palmer are perhaps the best options available (Beggars cannot be choosers, unfortunately). The biggest negative on Palmer is that he will almost surely not be cut, so we would need to trade for him. In comparison, Bulger is a free agent who is rested and ready after a year of backing up Flacco in Baltimore. I actually think that he is a potential contender for comeback player of the year. He was on some awful Rams teams his last few seasons there. He is probably hungry to prove himself again. Perhaps he will emulate what Kurt Warner pulled off in Arizona.
After Bulger and Palmer, there is Hasselbeck and McNabb. Both will reportedly be cut this offseason. Hasselbeck will turn 36 years old in September and McNabb will be 35 in November. Both are older than Bulger, who turns 34 in April, and Palmer, who turns 32 at the end of December. It is possible that Hasselbeck and/or McNabb still has another good season left in their tank, but does anybody expect that after watching McNabb's failure in Washington and Hasselbeck's 8-10 Seahawks?
Personally, my preference is to sign Bulger and have Henne compete with him. This would be the last chance for Henne in Miami, and I really do not believe he can beat out Bulger in an open competition. With regards to our third string slot, I think that role should be filled either via the draft, or by signing somebody from the CFL/Arena League/United Football League. If Pennington can pass his physical and is willing to accept the veteran minimum, he would be worthy of the emergency slot.
Bulger/Henne/Pennington or Bulger/Henne/Rookie is probably the best depth chart imaginable this offseason. Given the fact that this regime is in do-or-die mode, I suspect that the former lineup is far more likely than the latter.
While it is usually true that you need a franchise QB to win the Super Bowl, the Bucs managed to win the Lombardi with Brad Johnson and the Ravens pulled it off with Trent Dilfer. Nobody would consider them franchise QBs. This team may be closer than we expect, especially if we were to obtain a Brad Johnson-esque performance from a veteran QB over the next two seasons.
Please let me know about any other potential veterans who could be brought in to compete with Henne, or if you disagree with this analysis.