Finding quarterbacks wouldn’t be classified as an issue of the Green Bay Packers over much of the past three decades.
Since Green Bay traded a first round pick to Atlanta for Brett Favre in 1992, the Packers have been sellers rather than buyers when it comes to the signal caller position. As former General Manager Ron Wolf employed his philosophy to select a quarterback in nearly every draft class, the Packers developed several quarterbacks they would later dangle as trade bait. These days, with Aaron Rodgers under center for the foreseeable future, the Packers have a similar decision to make with former fifth round pick Brett Hundley.
Rumors swirled during the second day of April’s draft that Hundley was on the trading block. Reports indicated that a deal was close and the Packers had genuine interest in picking Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer in the second round. While it was speculated immediately after Hundley was drafted in 2015 that he would be groomed to be traded later, it was somewhat of a surprise that a deal would occur so soon. Smokescreen or not, this is a critical offseason for Hundley and the Packers to showcase the third year pro’s ability in preseason action.
As a rookie in 2015, Hundley was the NFL’s highest-rated passer in the preseason, with a 129.7 passer rating. He also put on a show against the New Orleans Saints, completing 16 of 23 passes for 236 yards and four touchdowns in the final exhibition game. Much intrigue surrounded Hundley the following season. Unfortunately, the Hall of Fame Game, in which Hundley was expected to start, was cancelled due to unsafe field conditions. Then the UCLA product injured his ankle the following week against Oakland after he led an impressive opening drive and was five of seven passing for 67 yards.
With two years left on Hundley’s rookie contract and the Packers’ seemingly strong interests in Joe Callahan and Taysom Hill, one has to wonder when trading Hundley would hold the most value and what that return may be. After all, Hundley is Green Bay’s second-string insurance in case of a catastrophic injury to Rodgers and the Packers were reluctant to trade Matt Flynn during his similarly encouraging development.
Let’s start by going back in time to comparable trades made by the Packers.
In 1995, Green Bay traded Brunell to Jacksonville after selecting him in the fifth round just two years prior. Appearing in only two games and attempting just 27 passes in the two years after he was drafted, Green Bay still managed to haul in third and fifth round picks in the Brunell deal.
Five years later, Green Bay would make another trade, sending Brooks and tight end Lamont Hall to the New Orleans Saints. Trading away the 1999 fourth round pick after just one season and no regular season action, the Packers received linebacker K.D. Williams and a third round pick in the swap. Like the Brunell trade, the Packers accumulated a higher draft pick than they spent on the quarterback, plus additional value.
Green Bay made perhaps its most notorious backup quarterback swap when it sent Hasselbeck to the Seattle Seahawks in 2001. Showing promise in training camp and tossing two touchdown passes on 29 attempts over two seasons of action, the sixth round pick Hasselbeck brought in an extra third-round pick after Green Bay and Seattle swapped first rounders (picks 10 and 17).
In addition to Green Bay’s deals, a few more recent trades have been made around the NFL to provide a baseline understanding of the playing experience required to attract a significant return for Hundley.
Atlanta Falcons trade Matt Schaub to Houston Texans
As a third round pick in 2004, Schaub became a frequent fill-in for Atlanta in the midst of several Michael Vick injuries. He put himself on the map during a 2005 preseason game in Japan in which he threw for 117 yards and two touchdowns before spot starting a regular season matchup against New England and passing for 298 yards and three scores. With 161 attempts, six touchdowns, and six interceptions in parts of three seasons (two starts), the Texans felt confident enough to trade two consecutive second round picks for Schaub, who immediately became their starting quarterback.
New England Patriots trade Matt Cassel to Kansas City Chiefs
As an undrafted free agent, Cassel spent his first four seasons with the Patriots, gaining national acclaim his final year when he started 15 games in Tom Brady’s absence. Completing 63% of his passes and throwing for over 3,600 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2008, Cassel was dealt to the Chiefs along with Mike Vrabel for a second round pick in 2009.
Philadelphia Eagles trade Kevin Kolb to Arizona Cardinals
Kolb, often compared to a young Favre in his early years, was a hot commodity after the 2010 season, his fourth with the Eagles after being selected in the second round in 2007. Like Schaub, Kolb saw action in between Vick’s injuries and stints at wide receiver. During his last season in Philadelphia, he started five games and threw for nearly 1,200 yards and a 50-50 touchdown to interception ratio. Like other quarterbacks on this list, Kolb had starting experience, prototypical size, and a gun-slinger mentality. Those measurables helped influence Arizona to trade a second round pick, as well as cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, for the rights to Kolb in 2011.
While Hundley has always had the desired size, mobility, and arm for the quarterback position, questions remain regarding his processing speed and ability to go through reads and progressions. In Hundley’s defense, he hasn’t had many opportunities to display improvement on those pre-draft knocks. Nevertheless, all of the quarterbacks mentioned above have consistently showed promise as preseason passers or in spot starting duties. Outside of his rookie training camp, Hundley has not been able to provide that consistency in evaluation.
In order for Hundley to earn a starting role elsewhere and the Packers to capitalize on their fifth round investment in 2015, health and development must be on display this preseason. With no intention of playing Rodgers longer than needed in exhibition contests, Green Bay should be able to afford Hundley that chance. In the meantime, it’s hard to justify the Packers receiving much more than its original fifth round pick back, a trade scenario reminiscent of Aaron Brooks.