When the Green Bay Packers traded up to select quarterback Brett Hundley in the fifth round of the NFL draft, their intention was not for him to be the heir to Aaron Rodgers. Hundley will start the season as a backup, but could be developed into a major trade asset for Green Bay.
Hundley was projected to go earlier in the draft than where he was ultimately selected. Prior to the draft, many analysts had him going in the third or fourth round. For a time, he was regarded as the third best quarterback in the draft behind Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota.
So when Hundley slipped into the fifth round, the Packers traded up to get him. While he will likely start the season as the third string quarterback behind Rodgers and Scott Tolzien, his value to the team could be more than just as a backup.
The Packers should take Hundley and develop him into a solid enough quarterback where he can be traded in the future for a higher draft pick. If Green Bay can trade Hundley in a few years for a pick higher than in the fifth round, then the Packers will have benefited greatly from drafting him.
Hundley is too talented of a quarterback to spend his entire career as a backup. He recently signed a four-year deal, but Green Bay would be smart to develop and trade Hundley before he becomes a free agent.
Last season, backup Matt Flynn got a decent amount of playing time. In the season finale in 2011, he was able to showcase his ability and land himself a big free agent contract after he broke a number of Green Bay’s passing records. If Hundley can get the chance to show his talents to the league, a quarterback-needy team could deal a third or fourth round pick for him.
The strategy has worked for the Packers in the past. Green Bay was able to trade backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck in 2001 for a third round pick and a higher first round pick. In 1995, the Packers traded backup Mark Brunell for a third and a fifth round pick in the draft.
Those quarterbacks did not have to do much to prove their worth as trade chips. Brunell had just six regular season passing attempts in two years as a backup and got the Packers two draft picks. Hasselbeck had thrown for less than 150 yards in two seasons for the Seahawks to give up two picks for him.
Mike McCarthy has shown that he is very adept at developing quarterbacks into true professional talents. Hundley will also be learning under Rodgers, the reigning MVP and arguably the best quarterback in the league. Hundley will benefit immensely from having them as mentors during his tenure as a backup.
But while Hundley’s rookie contract would take him through the 2018 season, the Packers should look to part ways with him before then. Rodgers is still too young for the Packers to currently have his replacement on the roster, and Hundley has too much potential to not get a chance to prove he can be a starter.
Green Bay has a few seasons to find another backup quarterback if Hundley were to leave. A worthwhile trade would involve acquiring a pick higher than the fifth round. As Hasselbeck and Brunell proved in the past, backups do not need to have stellar careers to warrant such draft picks.
As long as Hundley shows his potential in training camp, the preseason, and his role as a backup, he can become a highly valuable trade piece for Green Bay in a few years. It is up to the Packers to utilize their staff and other players to mold Hundley into a quarterback talented enough to convince other teams to give draft compensation in return for Hundley’s services.——————
Sean Blashe is a Packers fan who grew up in Bears territory and is currently a journalism and history major at Marquette University. Sean is a writer with PackersTalk.com and you can follow him on twitter at @SeanBlashe .