The backup quarterback is arguably the most popular player on most teams, or at least that is how the cliche goes. There has yet to be a season in the NFL where all 32 NFL teams have started and ended the season with their starting quarterback. There is a notion that the backup quarterback role is a “guy who can get us through a few games.”
No. No, and No.
The league has incorrectly operated with this mentality for too long. Every year there are a number of teams who have huge aspirations because of their roster, but the season is immediately derailed by a season-ending injury to their quarterback. The Vikings in 2016 were one of those teams, ultimately trading for Sam Bradford, the team still finished 8-8. Was the move worth it? In hindsight, probably not, but the ownership knew it had to sell “hope” to a fan base opening a new stadium
Let’s take a look at some notable back ups around the league.
If any of these players have to play this season, the season is likely over for the team. The Panthers have struggled to surround Cam Newton with real talent on the offensive line or wide receiver talent. Taylor Heinicke would not be a savior to that organization if Newton is injured.
Last season the Minnesota Vikings had to rely on Case Keenum for majority of the season. Due to Keenum being a highly volatile quarterback, the Vikings had some phenomenal play, and some poor play. In a league with few franchise quarterbacks, teams are often overpaying backup quarterbacks like they are starters. Mike Glennon was paid $18.5 million dollars to be their starter, until ultimately deciding to draft Mitchell Tribusky.
The NFL should move towards getting two starting caliber quarterbacks. In a league where the quarterback is the most important position, why not have two starters instead of one? One can argue that it takes reps from the starter and it slows development, but the development of the quarterback will be slowed if they become injured(i.e. Andrew Luck).
Trevor Siemian has started a number of games before the Vikings traded for him this past off-season. He is not a quarterback that could challenge Kirk Cousins, which is fine, because the Vikings do not want him to. Logically though, the Vikings should want someone who could challenge Cousins, even though they have paid him a lot of money. The Vikings had the option to let Cousins compete with Teddy Bridgewater or Case Keenum this past off-season, but decided against it. Any quarterback not consistently in the top 5-7 should have a player behind them pushing them to perform better.
Should organizations continue to be so comfortable with their quarterback situations simply because they pay their starters so much money? Definitely not, and a decision for a team to bring in two capable starters will put any organization ahead of the the rest of the league. The Patriots traded away Jimmy Garoppolo for a draft pick, but most overvalue draft picks, where they should realize proven talent is more important than a gambled pick. The Vikings should strongly consider bringing in more talent, if not during the season then 2019 draft. Every other position on the field has to compete, quarterbacks should be no different.