There always seems to be a shortage of legitimate quarterbacks to fill the needs of all 32 NFL teams. Some franchises are left searching for a starter every year, while others are left without a viable backup plan in the event that they lose their starter.
With so few quarterbacks to go around, even middling talents can become sought after every offseason. Untapped potential on one team could represent a beacon of hope to another front office or fan base. Sometimes, even the shakiest résumé could seem like an improvement.
The 49ers are having issues finding a backup quarterback at the moment, a scary proposition for any Super Bowl contender. That is only magnified by the fact that their starter, Colin Kaepernick, is known to take off with the football, exposing himself to more open field hits than a traditional pocket passer. The 49ers are built on defense and running the football, and even competent quarterback play could be able to keep them afloat in Kaepernick’s absence.
For that reason, Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com suggested (via Twitter) that the team inquire on Vikings‘ quarterback Christian Ponder. Ponder was able to bring a defensive minded Vikings squad to the playoffs in 2012, mostly on the back of Adrian Peterson and his 2,097 rushing yards.
Another option for a team looking for a strong backup, or even a low end starter, would be Eagles‘ quarterback Mark Sanchez. Earlier today Chip Kelly admitted that he wasn’t beyond listening to trade offers for Sanchez. While the former Jets passer is generally considered to have been a disaster during his first stop, it is worth noting that he played with some of the worst offensive weapons in the league. During his rookie and sophomore campaigns, when he had slightly more to work with, Sanchez brought the Jets to the AFC Championship game in both years, making him an intriguing candidate for a trade.
Redskins‘ backup Kirk Cousins has been a leader amongst the trade rumor community, most commonly being linked with his former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan in Cleveland. With Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel competing for the Browns’ job, there is no obvious need for Cousins there. Still, his body of work is good enough in a small sample size, and he has not had the time to tarnish his reputation in the same way that Ponder and Sanchez have.
The Patriots also are prepared to move on from Ryan Mallett, making it known so by drafting Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round of this past draft. Mallett had a high potential upside coming out in the 2011 draft, but never saw a meaningful snap and is now at the end of his rookie contract. The Patriots would certainly be willing to move him, but could find it difficult to get anything substantial for him.
Most would agree that none of these options represents a savior at quarterback, and all 32 teams are more or less set on their options for a starter in 2014. Even teams that have the least certain options at quarterback, such as the Vikings with Matt Cassel, the Texans with Ryan Fitzpatrick, or the Jets with Geno Smith have reason to pass on making a big move. The Vikings have hope of developing first-round pick Teddy Bridgewater. The Texans have a stopgap in Fitzpatrick, and head coach Bill O’Brien likely does not see any available options markedly better than the journeyman. The Jets have a better in-house option in Michael Vick in the event that Smith does not improve in 2014.
Even still, if a team less prepared to handle an injury to their top passer, these options could become very sought after. Other players, such as Drew Stanton of the Cardinals, Brock Osweiler of the Broncos, and Jason Campbell of the Bengals could also bring interest to a team desperate for some level of quarterback play to get through a rough patch. These players will likely not be seen as franchise quarterbacks to any team, but a front office could talk themselves into bringing one of these players in to salvage a season.