The Buffalo Bills' starting quarterback job is up for grabs, and the competition may not be limited to J.P. Losman and Kelly Holcomb.
General Manager Marv Levy suggested that a third candidate could be added to the mix. It won't be a high draft pick or a high-profile free agent like Drew Brees, but Levy is considering bringing in someone capable of competing with Losman and Holcomb for the starting job.
"There may be a young one out there," Levy said during a visit with the media at the NFL Scouting Combine. "Is there one or two in free agency that's not necessarily a blow-you-away guy? Not necessarily a Drew Brees, for instance. And if he can come in and compete, great."
The Bills will need a third quarterback since last year's No. 3, Shane Matthews, is expected to retire. But Levy said the guy they bring in will determine his place on the depth chart.
"We're not relegating anyone by saying he's a backup or he's our future starter," Levy said. "Come on in and let's find out what you can do. But we're looking for guys who show us signs that we would like."
Levy hasn't ruled out using a mid- to late-round draft pick on a passer, but the team wouldn't mind a young veteran with experience.
Brees of the San Diego Chargers will be the top quarterback on the market when he becomes an unrestricted free agent Thursday. But he isn't an option for the Bills because he would command a huge contract despite the fact he's recovering from shoulder surgery.
There are a few other available veteran quarterbacks the Bills might consider.
Arizona's Josh McCown has the most upside among the free-agent crop. The 26-year-old McCown played well at times for a bad Arizona team the last two seasons, throwing for nearly 4,400 yards. He is only 10-12 as a starter since 2003, but that doesn't look as bad when compared to the Cardinals' 2-11 record when other quarterbacks started.
Meanwhile, Washington's Patrick Ramsey, New Orleans' Aaron Brooks and Tampa Bay's Brian Griese could be released early next week.
Levy says the Bills' interest in acquiring another quarterback does not mean they have lost confidence in Losman. Levy said Losman has the physical tools to be an outstanding player.
But the new regime isn't going to just hand the starting job to Losman like the previous leadership did.
"The general rule is we're going to look at every position as competitive," new Bills coach Dick Jauron said. "We want everyone to feel like they have a shot. In regards specifically to the quarterbacks, it should play out the same way.
"I don't think there is anything to be gained at this point by naming a (starting) guy. Go into the offseason workouts, the spring workouts and let them compete, and then we'll see what happens going into training camp. And if we don't have a guy that we can name a starter then we'll go right into camp with the competition."
Jauron added that someone will go into minicamp penciled in as the starter. Based on last season's performance, Holcomb might be the choice. Losman clearly has more potential and may end up better than anyone the Bills might bring in to challenge for the starting job.
Levy said Losman still has a lot to learn. The only way that will happen is for him to be on the field.
But if Losman is going to start for the Bills next season, he'll have to earn it.
"We want what every Buffalo Bills fan wants, and that's a quarterback who gives us the best chance to win now," Levy said. "We're going to give all of our quarterbacks a chance to compete for the job, and may the best man win."