clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Should Packers pursue Matt Hasselbeck to back up Aaron Rodgers?

New, comments

The Packers have a chance to sign veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck this offseason if they want him.

Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Soon after NFL free agency begins on Mar. 9, the Green Bay Packers can probably expect to see Scott Tolzien depart for an opportunity elsewhere.

The quarterback has spent the last three seasons backing up Aaron Rodgers while refining his craft and preparing for a chance to run an offense. Over the last two preseasons, Tolzien completed nearly 65 percent of his passes for just under 700 yards without committing a turnover. The 105.8 passer rating he posted during that span ranks among the league's best. With signal-callers always in demand, multiple teams could come calling for Tolzien to compete for their starting job, leaving Green Bay with a hole behind Rodgers on the depth chart.

Conversely, no team likely believes that Matt Hasselbeck can serve as more than a spot starter at this point in his career. The Indianapolis Colts have informed Hasselbeck than they do not plan to re-sign him this offseason, leaving 17-year NFL veteran in search of a new NFL home. Should he decide to continue his career, Hasselbeck could become an intriguing target for the Packers.

When Andrew Luck went down last season with a variety of maladies, Hasselbeck stepped in and performed well early, completing 97 of his 150 throws (64.7 percent) for 1,023 yards (6.82 per throw), seven touchdowns and two picks over his first four appearances. However, as his the season stretched on, his play dipped considerably. In his final four games, Hasselbeck's completion percentage dropped to 55.7 percent while his yards per attempt fell to 6.3. He also threw more interceptions (three) than touchdowns (two). It follows that no organization in need of a long-term answer at the position would consider Hasselbeck this offseason.

But for the Packers, a team with a two-time MVP at the helm, the addition of Hasselbeck makes plenty of sense. Barring an unlikely return by Tolzien, the backup quarterback job sits vacant with only rising second-year man Brett Hundley there to fill it. Hundley played well during the 2015 preseason and the team has expressed their belief that he can become a starter some day. Still, Hundley fell to the fifth round due to concerns about his NFL readiness and spent every week of the 2015 season on the inactive list. His future looks bright, but the UCLA product may need more time before the team can rely on him in a regular season game.

Should that prove to be the case, the Packers could sign Hasselbeck to ensure a quality backup signal-caller for 2016 while continuing to develop Hundley behind him. If Rodgers misses a few games due to injury, Hasselbeck has shown that he can more than adequately fill in. In such a scenario, his presence could prove the difference between a 10-win season and 12 wins plus a bye week.

And while Green Bay certainly doesn't lack for cap space, Hasselbeck shouldn't command a large contract. The Colts signed him to a one-year, $3 million deal last offseason, and he may even accept less to play for a title contender. For the insurance he offers, the usually stingy Packers should seriously consider going out of their comfort zone and signing him.

Jason B. Hirschhorn covers the Green Bay Packers for Acme Packing Company. He also serves as an NFL writer for SB Nation and Sports on Earth and is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.