After reading Tex's article on your favorite back-up quarterbacks in recent memory, I decided to dig into the current situation at back-up quarterback. Graham Harrell's most vivid memory might be tripping over a lineman and fumbling the ball at the goal line against the Saints, while B.J. Coleman is likely the fan favorite simply because he hasn't had a chance to prove himself one way or the other yet. Not exactly reassuring if you're a Packers fan.
The position battle for back-up quarterback duties seems to be set between Harrell and Coleman, and Coach Mike McCarthy has given both his vote of confidence during OTAs and minicamp press conferences. It's obvious that McCarthy and the Packers organization don't feel the need to bring anyone else in, and have been idle since Matt Flynn's departure and the drafting of Coleman last off-season.
The Packers brought in a single undrafted free agent quarterback in Matt Brown, so I don't expect them to make any more moves at the position. But for the sake of the argument, and to get a discussion going within the community, are here any free agents still out there worth giving an opportunity to? Let's take a quick look at who is still available.
Byron Leftwich (6'5, 245 pounds, age 33)
- Leftwich hasn't been able to stay healthy in recent years with Pittsburgh, but has been a reliable back-up in spots. He had a 24-20 record as a starting quarterback for the Jaguars from 2003 to 2006. He had 51 TDs and 36 INTs with a 58.7% completion percentage in that time. His age and health concerns far outweigh his potential to be a solid back-up, so you can probably cross him off the list unless he has recently lost weight, or passed a physical with a team.
Vince Young (6'5, 230 pounds, age 30)
- Young didn't see the field last year with the Eagles, and put up less than impressive numbers when he did in the 2011 season (4 TDs - 9 INTs). He had flashes of potential in 2009 and 2010 with the Titans, but off the field problems and clashes with Coach Jeff Fisher stunted his development. Young is not the type of quarterback McCarthy prefers for his spread offense which relies on quick, accurate passes over power arms or scrambling "play-makers". Young will likely find a job somewhere, but don't expect it to be in Green Bay
Tyler Thigpen (6'3, 235 pounds, age 29)
- Thigpen started 11 games for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2008, recording a lackluster 1-10 record as a starter. In his defense, it was only his second year in the league, and that Chiefs team was awful. Thigpen posted a 76.0 QB rating with 18 TDs and 12 INTs that season. He has appeared in just 13 games in the following four seasons since, and his days as a starting quarterback appear to be over. If there is one potentially positive note on Thigpen, it's that he is relatively young, and could progress into a solid back-up if given the proper tutelage of the "Coach McCarthy QB School". Thigpen was believed to be headed to Seattle after Matt Flynn became an Oakland Raider during the off-season, but the Seahawks went with Brady Quinn instead.
Trent Edwards (6'4, 230 pounds, age 29)
- Edwards started 30 games in his first 3 seasons with the Buffalo Bills, compiling a 14-17 record with 24 TDs and 25 INTs. He has bounced around from Buffalo to Jacksonville and most recently, Philadelphia in the past two seasons. At 6'4 and 230 pounds, Edwards is also a bigger quarterback that can withstand punishment (sacked 65 times in Buffalo). He also has the best completion percentage of the four listed free agents at 60.6%.
Also still swimming around in the pool of free agency are: Charlie Batch (age 38), Matt Leinart (age 30), Jordan Palmer (age 29), and JaMarcus Russell (age 27).
Batch's age, Palmer's production, and Leinart and Russell's questioned work ethic will likely keep them off most team's call lists.
If I had to choose a free agent quarterback to add to the roster, I would go with Thigpen over the previously mentioned options because his potential rewards far outweigh his potential risks. He also has relatively decent numbers considering the teams he has been on during his career.
In the end, the devil you know is better than the devil you don't, and I believe Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy, and the Packers organization will stick with the two young quarterbacks already on the roster for another season, and see what progressions they make along the way. Ted Thompson, as we all know, will only add free agents if the team is in dire need at the given position, and he can sign them at a discounted price. The only way I see them added a quarterback this late in the process would be due to injuries or serious missteps by both quarterbacks during pre-season games.
What do you guys think? Is there any chance that the Packers add a veteran free agent to the mix for back-up duties?