Finding A Backup Quarterback Should be A Priority for the Packers

Matt Flynn Green Bay Packers

Finding a quarterback is not something the Packers have had to concern themselves with too much over the past 20 years. Between Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, the Packers  have had two of the best and most durable quarterbacks in the NFL. But that changed last year after Rodgers missed significant time after breaking his collar bone. The Packers were ill prepared to deal with the loss of Rodgers, and were incredibly fortunate to make the playoffs.

It was just a few years ago that Mike McCarthy was developing a reputation as a “quarterback whisperer”, after he oversaw a resurgence in Favre’s career, helped develop Rodgers into one of the NFL’s premier quarterbacks, and was partially responsible for developing Matt Flynn into a quarterback who looked like he had starter potential. But that reputation has been tarnished a bit lately. Flynn looks more like a career backup than a NFL starter, and the two quarterbacks that were being groomed to be Rodgers’ long-term backups, Graham Harrell and BJ Coleman, were so bad that the Packers brought in Vince Young during training camp to compete for the backup spot. All three were released shortly before the 2013 season began. The Packers were so desperate for a backup quarterback that they signed veteran Senneca Wallace less than a week before their opening game. In other words, the Packers’ backup quarterback situation was a mess.

Despite the Packers narrowly avoiding disaster last season after Rodgers’ injury, they have not shown any urgency this offseason in shoring up the backup quarterback spot.

Currently the Packers have only one quarterback on the roster other than Rodgers, Scott Tolzien. Tolzien showed some promise last year after being brought up from the practice squad, but costly turnovers against the Giants, and accuracy issues against the Vikings in week 12, led to him being benched in favor of Matt Flynn. Tolzien will have another shot to make the roster again this year, but the Packers will need to see some major improvement if he wants to be considered for the Packers backup job.

Mike McCarthy has made it known that they would like to add another quarterback in the draft. Whether that means taking someone like Alabama’s AJ McCarron with a second day pick, or using a late round pick on someone like Pitt’s Tom Savage, remains to be seen. But I believe using a later round pick on a quarterback that could be stashed on the practice squad for a year would make the most sense for the Packers at this time.

Most of the experienced backup quarterbacks have already signed with new teams, but there are a few free agents that would make sense for the Packers.

Mark Sanchez was recently released by the Jets and he will probably not find a starting job anywhere in the NFL, at least not this season. The much maligned Sanchez was a disappointment in New York, but a 27 year old quarterback with 62 career starts and 4 playoff victories under his belt, would add a level of experience at the position that the Packers have not had before. On the downside, the current going rate for a quality backup seems to be about $5 million per season, which may be way more than the Packers want to spend.

Josh Freeman could be another option. Like Sanchez, Freeman would bring quite a bit of starting experience with him, but he played poorly towards the end of his time in Tampa Bay, and his one start in Minnesota was a disaster. However, if the Packers think there is a chance they could coach Freeman up to the level he played at before the 2013 season, he might be worth a look.

That brings us to the obvious choice, Matt Flynn.  After leaving the Packers in free agency after the 2011 season, it looked like Flynn would become the next starting quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks. However, the selection of Russell Wilson in the 3rd round of the 2012 draft made Flynn expendable, and he was traded to the Oakland Raiders. After his stint with the Raiders and a brief stay in Buffalo, Flynn re-signed with the Packers this past November. Flynn played relatively well in relief of Rodgers last season and he led the Packers to a memorable come from behind win against the Cowboys, keeping them in the playoff race. There hasn’t been any discernible interest in Flynn by the Packers or any other team this offseason, but I still believe bringing Flynn back to the Packers would make a lot of sense for both parties. It is highly unlikely Flynn will find a better opportunity than being a backup to Aaron Rodgers, and the Packers need some stability at a position that proved to be a huge liability for the them last year.

There is still plenty of time left for the Packers to get a deal done with Flynn or another free agent quarterback, but with the issues the Packers had last year, they would be wise to make a decision sooner rather than later.


Ian Hanley is a writer at You can follow him on twitter at @Ian_M_Hanley.