clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Ranking the NFL's expendable quarterbacks

These guys weren't deemed necessary by their former teams. How do they stack up against each other?

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Here are some hot Tuesday NFL news & rumors for you:

- Rex Grossman is working out with the Atlanta Falcons

- Michael Vick is headed to Pittsburgh to meet with the Steelers

Ooooh boy, what an exciting time to be alive!

Grossman hasn't thrown a pass in a regular season game since 2011 with the Washington Redskins. (Technically, the final game of the 2011 season was on January 1, 2012, you technical bastards.) Grossman's presence in Atlanta is probably making T.J. Yates feel like a bad person, because Yates had the backup job sealed up but is apparently one of the worst players of all-time because here comes the Rex machine.

However, it's not all bad news for the Falcons, because the starter is Matt Ryan and he's good. It's not unusual for teams to have good starters and not-so-good backups. What a team hopes for at the backup position is stability so that at least if the starter does go down, the replacement has been in the system for two or three years and is very familiar with the playbook, the other players, and knows what to do. It's much worse when the "Carousel of Bad QBs" comes at the starting position, and that's really something that happens in the AFC right now, not the NFC.

In the NFC, only three teams are expected to have new starters at quarterback: Nick Foles and Sam Bradford were traded for one another, and Jameis Winston, who was the number one overall pick by Tampa Bay.

When it comes to starting over at starter, those are three pretty good options. Not so much in the AFC, where the best of the carousel is probably Marcus Mariota in Tennessee -- and the second best is a fifth-year player with 35 career pass attempts.

The NFL tends to go in waves of one conference dominating over another for a period of time and then reverting back, but things have been fairly even over the last eight years. The NFC has won five Super Bowls, versus the AFC's three. Yes, the Seahawks, 49ers, and Cardinals all barely lost the Super Bowl (look at how close the NFC West is to having won four of the last seven Super Bowls), but the Patriots two losses to the Giants were also very close, as was the Steelers loss to the Packers.

So I think both conferences have been fairly even, with a slight edge to the NFC, but I think when four teams in the AFC have "expendable starting quarterbacks," that's a sign that the "dominance" of the best teams in the conference is somewhat of a mirage. Jay Cutler and Robert Griffin III may not be great quarterbacks at the moment, but would the Bills or Jets consider trading for them right about now? Contracts and loss of draft picks not being taken into account, yes, I think they would consider it.

When I talk about "expendable quarterbacks," I am talking about guys that teams were willing to let go of. Teams are not willing to let go of a quarterback if he's capable of being an above average starter. It rarely happens without extenuating circumstances. Even rarer, is that an expendable quarterback turns out to be better than the releasing team thought he was. Look at Cutler for instance.

A first round pick, flashes of greatness in Denver, traded to Chicago, got even worse.

Sometimes backups have no chance of starting on their teams, but show great potential and are traded for an opportunity, like Matt Hasselbeck, but this is less of an "expendable" situation, and more of a "wasting away" deal. Both teams win.

In the cases of many of these teams, either both teams lose, or one team loses (the acquirer) and another team wins (by letting go of said player, and giving some other poor schmo a chance to be the next "expendable quarterback.")

Let's rank these guys, shall we? All of these quarterbacks were on another team last season.

1. Sam Bradford, Eagles

Gets the nod over Foles because he's just more talented and at one time definitely looked like he could become the franchise player he was supposed to be, despite playing for the Rams. I actually think Bradford could make the Pro Bowl this season.

2. Nick Foles, Rams

Doesn't have to be an upgrade over Bradford, just needs to be an upgrade over Austin Davis and Shaun Hill.

3. Tyrod Taylor, Bills

Surprised? Taylor hasn't even won the job yet, but it looks like he's got a very good chance to do just that. And I don't think any sane person would rather have any of the options below over Taylor, because there might be something here and we know that there isn't anything left to mine out of the rest of these players.

4. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jets

Probably the only guy that can post an A/Y of 8.0 and a QB rating of 95.3 and still go unnoticed. That's because Fitzpatrick is like the "Little Quarterback That Could"; every one of his throws looks practically effortful. Yes, effortful not effortless. Every pass is like an arm bunt, not an arm punt. Also, he had six touchdowns and no picks in one of the last games of the year last season against the Titans, so that's why the numbers look so good.

5. Brian Hoyer, Texans

Everybody's favorite QB that "deserves another chance," Hoyer has been in the league for six years and he has a total of 19 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. He led the NFL in yards per catch last season, and he also posted a passer rating of 53.1 over his final five starts with two touchdowns and nine interceptions. He did the unimaginable in Houston this year, winning a starting job over Ryan Mallet.

6. Josh McCown, Browns

Josh McCown is like the David Blaine of quarterbacks: You can't figure out how he's doing what he's doing for so long. And you also don't really care.

The magic of it is that McCown has never been good and yet he's entering his 13th season.

7. Matt Cassel, Bills

Yeah, this is how bad free agent quarterbacks are. And you thought McCown was bad.

8. Matt Schaub, Ravens

Exclusive footage of Schaub in Baltimore:

9. Shaun Hill, Vikings

Hill's career started in Minnesota in 2002. Now he's back 13 years later to fuck shit up all over again. I don't know why any team would ever sign Hill though, he's like the injury replacement whisperer.

Alex Smith in San Francisco.

Matthew Stafford in Detroit.

Sam Bradford in St. Louis.

Every time he's played significant snaps it's in replacement of a young injured franchise quarterback. Watch your back, Teddy.

10. Michael Vick, Steelers?

Vick was like a panther, waiting in a tree, for the right moment to pounce. Or in other words, waiting for Bruce Gradkowski to dislocate a finger.

11. Josh Johnson, Bengals

I thought Johnson was on the Bengals last year, but nope, he was with San Francisco. Over the last three years, he's been with the 49ers twice, Cincy twice, Cleveland once, and the Sacramento Mountain Lions once. Get ready in 2016, Cleveland or Sacramento! (Johnson likely would choose the Mountain Lions.)

12. Christian Ponder, Raiders

Christian Ponder can't hear the haters. He probably should.

13. Matt Flynn, Jets

We've still got seven quarterbacks left on this list.

14. Case Keenum, Rams

Basically dating back to early 2014, Keenum was on Houston, then St. Louis, then Houston, and is now back in St. Louis. He's like two tents ...

Completely fucking pointless. We have one perfectly good tent, Cathleen, why did you need to bring a second? Oh, in case I piss you off?!?! ME?! ACTUALLY YEAH, I'M GLAD YOU BROUGHT TWO TENTS, GO SLEEP IN YOURS AND I'LL STAY IN MINE!!!

15. Thad Lewis, Browns

In case you're like me and thought Lewis was "just on Cleveland not too long ago," that was actually 2012 and he's been with three other teams since then.

16. Jeff Tuel, Jaguars

He might only have one career start, but I can't leave out Tuel Time, a former Coug that will soon surely be repping Wazzu in Canada.

17. Josh Freeman, Dolphins

Comprehend this: Three years ago Freeman was 24 and threw 27 touchdowns for the Bucs. Now he's 27 and is hoping to spend 24 seconds on the Dolphins.

18. Tim Tebow, Eagles

Tebow reminds me of this Miley Cyrus song:

Not because he "can't stop," but because they're both awful and yet I can't look away and I know that I'm the reason it's so popular. The only difference is that Miley's song is catchy.

19. Ryan Lindley, Patriots

There's a very good chance that for the first four weeks of the season, the defending Super Bowl champions' backup quarterback will be the guy who in January of this year posted a passer rating of 44.3 and a yards per attempt of 2.93 against the Panthers.

Lindley's career AV is -4, which I think is literally (proper usage of the word) the worst of all-time. You get 5 AV just for spelling your name right on your contract. He throws a touchdown once every 132 attempts. He has made seven career starts and has thrown at least one interception in each of them.

20. Rex Grossman, Falcons?

And yet here we are with Grossman at the bottom, possibly signing with Atlanta. Maybe soon Yates will take his place on the list at 20th, because if you can be replaced with Grossman, you are more than expendable. I guess you're just expended at that point. Which may or may not be the title of the next Expendable movie, when the gang is just --- I don't know how to make this reference. I only saw half of the first movie. I know you were waiting for it.




(And if it pleases the court, my IGG campaign is still a little short of it's goal, if you feel like donating. If not, that's cool too.)