Every team feels optimistic in late July and early August. As training camp wears on and preseason games yield disconcerting results, the powers that be in front offices start to feel the pressure and no where is that pressure greater than locking down the player under center.
No matter what coaches and general managers say publicly right now, there are teams worried sick about it.
John Elway quickly shot down reports the Broncos were “aggressively” pursuing a trade for Bengals backup A.J. McCarron, but with Paxton Lynch failing to grab hold of the starting job, it’s fair to wonder whether Denver should be looking for a quarterback upgrade.
And they’re not alone.
One player teams may look to when filling a potential void wears No. 7 and plays in Green Bay.
Brett Hundley went into his final season at UCLA as a potential first-round pick and despite a lackluster year for the Bruins, it was still shocking to see him fall as far as he did, though less surprising as the fact that it was the Packers who stopped that fall.
The numbers won’t overwhelm you in the regular season (Ok, they’re pretty bad, albeit limited), but Hundley’s signature game — a virtuoso performance against the Eagles starters in the 2015 preseason — flashed the physical gifts that made him a possible blue chip prospect in the first place.
Hundley would be under contract through the end of the 2018 season, making him potentially more enticing to teams like McCarron or Jimmy Garoppolo because they would get an extra season before having to pay him a huge deal no team can be sure he is worth. Plus, he has only marginally less regular season playing time.
With that in mind, it’s worth figuring out who might be interested.
Barring injuries these team have an absolute, no-doubt settled QB position:
- New Orleans
- Tampa Bay
- New York Giants
- New England
- Los Angeles Chargers
Indianapolis would be on this list, but we don’t know the health situation of Andrew Luck. Either way, they’re unlikely to trade for a young QB, even if Luck could miss the whole year.
Let’s add Chicago, Kansas City, and Houston because each gave up serious draft capital to trade up for rookies in the draft.
They’re off the board.
Arizona, Buffalo and Washington have unsettled quarterback situations beyond this season, which could make a trade next offseason plausible, but they’re going to ride out this year with Carson Palmer, Tyrod Taylor and Kirk Cousins, so they’re off the board as well.
Given what the Rams gave up to get Jared Goff, they’re standing pat for now, emphasis on “for now.”
That leaves us with six teams:
- San Francisco
- New York Jets
- Baltimore Ravens
- Denver Broncos
The presence of DeShone Kizer in Cleveland gives me pause here. If Kizer looked totally lost, maybe it would be a different story. I’d put money on Hundley being able to win more games than Osweiler, Kizer, or Kessler this season even with a compressed window to prepare, but with Kizer there, it’s not worth cluttering the evaluation of Kizer.
Kirk Cousins to the 49ers is the worst-kept QB crush in football, so for as much as Hundley could make long-term sense for San Francisco, Brian Hoyer presents a fine stopgap and John Lynch won’t be in a hurry to bring in a young player unless Kyle Shanahan is in love with him.
For what it’s worth, Hundley would be a beautiful fit in a Kyle Shanahan offense, but I digress.
That really leaves us with just four teams: the Jaguars, Jets, Ravens, and Broncos.
Denver would be wise to give Paxton Lynch more time. He was always going to need the reps coming out of a stripped down offensive structure at Memphis.
And though Hundley likely gives the Jets a better chance to win than the Hackenberg/Petty/McCown trio, New York appears fine with ... well, not winning.
Hundley in Baltimore for a season makes perfect sense. Marty Mornhinweg and Mike McCarthy use a number of similar concepts, much of the verbiage would likely be the same, and Hundley comes cheap for the Ravens.
But even if Flacco misses the entire year and Hundley shows out, there’s not much upside for Baltimore. Flacco’s contract can’t be excised for their cap until 2020.
That’s just not worth it. Ozzie Newsome made his bed. Now he has to lie in it with Joe Flacco.
So, we’re left with Jacksonville.
Tom Coughlin has no allegiance to Blake Bortles. Doug Marrone literally said he’d rather run every down than let Bortles throw.
Confidence isn’t high in the quarterback situation there, and the Jaguars would save $19 million if they show him the door after this year. They also have no long-term solution on the roster.
This is where things could get interesting.
Let’s say Bortles is god awful through camp and into the preseason. It’s a stretch, I know.
Considering the young talent on this roster, and the outlay of cash they annually spend on free agents, the Jaguars could feel like giving up some draft picks for a QB makes sense. They’d be right (though it’s fair to wonder why they’d start doing smart things now).
Tom Coughlin calls Ted Thompson and says “We’ll give you a Day 2 pick for Brett Hundley.”
Green Bay could unload a player they hope not to need for five years at least, and get a potential top-75 pick in return.
It makes sense for both teams.
But as we just saw, as appealing as Hundley might be — and a solid performance this week with the starters could go a long way in solidifying that position — the options for interested teams are truly limited.
Barring a major injury at quarterback, and we know from just last year that’s not only possible but likely, the Jaguars make the most sense for a potential Hundley trade.
The question then becomes one that would really get Cheesehead Nation’s juices flowing: do the Packers sign Colin Kaepernick as a backup?