As other teams start playing musical quarterbacks, isn’t it reassuring to know that the league’s MVP, and possibly one of the best quarterbacks in the history of, well, ever is on the Green Bay Packers’ active roster. Let’s face it, we’re spoiled. Aside from the fall of 2013 where the Packers walked through the Shadow of Mediocrity while Aaron Rodgers nursed a broken clavicle, the Packers have been rock solid with a top tier quarterbacks since 1992. That’s three presidents ago, and I was still in college.
Yet Rodgers’ injury reminded the team and fans alike that he is very much mortal, susceptible to the same injuries as any other athlete, and that there needs to be a Plan B if he cannot play. The Packers gambled that year and lost horribly. Vince Young, Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien. By the time Flynn was resigned to salvage the remainder of the season–or at least stop the hemorrhaging–he was technically QB3, maybe QB4 if you count Young.
Needless to say, they haven’t been caught shorthanded since. With a reliable insurance policy and a spare last year, the Packers kept Flynn on as the backup while Tolzien continued to develop. He knew the system, though his arm wasn’t that strong. And now that it appears that Scoots is ready to assume the role of QB2, the Packers resigned him last month to $1.35 Million one-year contract (a $645,000 raise from last year.) Meanwhile they have made no move to resign Matt Flynn. It signals to me that the Packers have already picked Rodgers’ back up for 2015. It’s a sizable hit against the cap for someone riding the bench, but it is a solid insurance policy when the league’s MVP goes down.
So what is this that the Packers visited a college quarterback last week you say? If the sources are correct, the team brought in Baylor’s Bryce Petty for a little test drive.
It’s been a while since the Packers drafted a quarterback to fill the backup ranks, and a decade since they drafted an heir apparent. At first glance, Petty is one of the top tier QBs in the 2015 draft class. Many rank him just below Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota.
But scratch the surface a little more, and there is a steep drop off from the two Heisman winners and the rest of that QB class. Most have Petty going around the third round. Yes, he has strength and size. But can he read defenses, and is he too dependent on the sidelines to do it for him?
Before everyone starts thinking he is coming in as the planned successor for Rodgers, I’d like to remind everyone that Brian Brohm was a second round pick, and he was only intended to be a QB2. Brett Favre was 36 when the Packers began the succession plan for the next starting QB. Rodgers in only 31. Needless to say, barring (hold on while I go find some wood to knock on) a catastrophic injury, Rodgers still has quite a lot in his tank.
Besides, all teams are allotted 30 pre-draft visit with college players. Petty is just one of them. At this point the Packers are doing nothing more than window shopping. There’s no commitment at this point. Besides, would you buy a pair of shoes or pant without first trying them on.
With Tolzien clearing $1.35 Million next year and no invitation for Flynn to return, there is no QB3 at this point. And after the disastrous turnstile of back up QBs two years ago, will the Packers return to two quarterbacks on the active roster with one on the practice squad? Or is do they need a third one as the back up to the back up in case lightning strikes twice? Either way, the Packers need a third quarterback that needs to learn the system and start quarterback school, and Petty who will only command a rookie salary this year, is a much cheaper prospect than Flynn with a veteran’s minimum.
If the Packers mirror their succession plan that they used for Favre, neither Scott Tolzien nor any quarterback they select through the draft of free agency this year are on the radar to replace Aaron Rodgers as he ages out of the league and heads toward retirement. If he remains healthy, that draft choice won’t occur for another 3-5 years.
Until then, follow the advice of the MVP and relax. Anyone at this point is just an understudy. If the past has shown us anything, is that Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy like young back ups to train and develop. Cliche or not, they are “system quarterbacks.” But the are Packers’ system QBs. It’s not a pejorative, but rather a guarantee that if Rodgers goes down for whatever reason, there is someone well versed in the Packers’ unique offensive–wait for it–system that is ready to line up behind the center and pick up where Rodgers had left off in the middle of a game. They aren’t there to win a championship. Yet, they have a crucial role of at least keeping the team in the hunt until Rodgers returns.
After all, the Packers failed to do that for much of 2013, and it almost cost them the entire season.
So imagine that, the Packers are looking for insurance policies. At least they are planning ahead this time instead of winging it like they did two years ago.--------------