The past few weeks have not been kind to the Seattle Seahawks backup quarterback position. Former backup and current free agent Tarvaris Jackson was arrested on June 24th for allegedly pulling a gun on his wife following an altercation. Before his arrest, fans and media members theorized that Jackson would return on yet another one-year deal to be Seattle's backup to Russell Wilson. Four days after Jackson's arrest, it was revealed that rookie quarterback Trevone Boykin would be charged with assault after a dispute occurred with a police officer outside of a San Antonio bar last December. Boykin plead guilty to the charge and was sentenced to a year probation with a $1,500 fine; the team already knew it was coming, so it's not "new news," but of course Boykin is an undrafted rookie free agent already, so that's an issue unto itself as far as being the guy you might have to hand your team over to in an emergency.
The legal troubles of Jackson and Boykin may have John Schneider and Pete Carroll reevaluating the backup quarterback position heading into training camp. Jackson's arrest has all but eliminated him from returning to the Seahawks. Boykin will not have to serve any jail time, but his legal troubles, coupled with his learning curve as a rookie, should lead to skepticism about his hold on the QB2 roster spot.
Currently, the only other backup quarterback on Seattle's roster is Washington native and former Miami Hurricanes quarterback Jake Heaps. He spent last offseason with the New York Jets as an undrafted free agent before being cut during training camp. In the fall of 2015, Heaps signed with the Brooklyn Bolts of the Fall Experimental Football League. There doesn't seem to be much evidence of Heaps becoming a capable NFL backup, and as of right now, he looks to be a camp body.
With the questions surrounding the Seahawks backup quarterback situation, I think the best solution for Seattle is to come away with a veteran via free agency or trade. At a glance, here are some viable players for either method of acquisition.
- T.J. Yates
The former Falcon and Texan could supply the backup competition with experience. Over his five seasons in the NFL, Yates has started 7 games, while also playing 18 in total. Yates best year came in his rookie season, where he was third on the Texans depth chart, filling in for injured quarterbacks Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart. Yates played in 6 games, starting in 5, and closing the season with a 3-3 record. His season totals came to 949 passing yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions, with an 80.7 passer rating and a 61.2 completion percentage. The next four years resulted in Yates making only two more starting appearances and mostly playing in garbage time. Yates may never instill confidence in fans if he were to need to start in place of Wilson, but his in-game experience has enough value that the Seahawks would be wise to take a look at him on a veteran minimum contract for training camp.
- Charlie Whitehurst
This name brings up great (or maybe not so great) memories for Seahawks fans. Clipboard Jesus. Whitehurst apotheosis came in the finale of Seattle's 2010 campaign. The 6-9 Seahawks came into the last game of the season against the 7-8 St. Louis Rams, the division and a playoff spot were on the line. Whitehurst started in place of the injured Matt Hasselbeck, and did the quintessential "just enough" to win the game for Seattle. He posted a 61% completion rate, 192 yards passing, and one touchdown in the 16-6 win. Whitehurst has started in spurts similar to this over the course of his career and performed respectably. A veteran quarterback who can do what's necessary to not lose the game is a valuable commodity in today's NFL. I think Whitehurst can once again fill that role.
- Michael Vick
Vick is definitely past the prime of his abilities, I would say that he is a shell of a shell of his former self. If Vick were to latch on to the Seahawks roster, I think that it would just be for training camp. Vick's physical abilities have diminished considerably since his time as the Eagles' starter. As a backup with Pittsburgh last year, Vick started in three games before suffering a hamstring injury that sidelined him for the remainder of the season. Even if for a short time, I think something should be said for the guidance Vick could provide the younger quarterbacks, on the field as well as in the locker room. There is also a chance that Vick could surprise in preseason and prove to be a serviceable backup for the year. This possibility would make it easier for Seattle to develop Boykin, presuming another team doesn't sign him, or wait to address the need next offseason.
- Josh McCown
McCown is the least likely of these options for a few different reasons. The Browns most likely won't want to part ways with him, especially if Robert Griffin III gets hurt or proves to be awful, and if they don't feel confident enough to play rookie Cody Kessler. Over the Cap lists the Seahawks cap room at around $7.9M and with McCown's salary being $4.375M, Carroll and Schneider may not want to bring in that expensive of a backup. I do think that if McCown could be secured for a low draft pick -probably a 6th or 7th round- Seattle will look into the possibility of bringing him in. McCown has shown that despite his age he can still be a good option to turn to. We are only two seasons removed from his spectacular performance in 2013 when he filled in for Jay Cutler. This trade scenario really comes down to how important the Seahawks view the QB2 spot, whether taking on McCown's salary is worth giving up compensation, and if they are willing to risk putting Boykin on the practice squad.
- Tyler Bray/Aaron Murray
John Schneider should turn to an old friend in Chiefs GM John Dorsey to acquire Tyler Bray or Aaron Murray. Neither quarterback has logged any playing time in the regular season during their careers. The argument against this option would be that this doesn't make sense for Seattle since they could just save a pick and keep developing Boykin. If the Seahawks don't like how the progression of Boykin is going, I think Bray or Murray could be suitable options based on a few elements. Both have been studying under Andy Reid's West Coast offense which shares similar concepts and terminology with Darrell Bevell's offense in Seattle. The learning curve of a new playbook wouldn't be as steep for either. The Chiefs drafted quarterback Kevin Hogan in the 5th round of the 2016 draft, making one of Bray or Murray expendable. The Seahawks could look to make a similar trade with Kansas City like they did with Oakland for Terrelle Pryor in the 2014 offseason. Pryor was acquired for a 7th-round selection. A 7th-round pick for Bray or Murray feels like a low-risk transaction that would benefit Seattle without causing them to give up too much.
- Matt McGloin
Another old friend of Schneider's, Reggie McKenzie, could be willing to deal McGloin at a discounted price. The Raiders selected quarterback Connor Cook in the 4th-round of the 2016 draft. The selection immediately put McGloin on the trading block. McGloin has starting experience under his belt, he started 6 games in 2013. He posted a 76.1 passer rating, throwing for 1,547 yards, with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions. McGloin has shown enough flashes of good play to warrant another chance at being the primary backup for a team. Oakland may be hesitant to trade him during camp since they currently only have three quarterbacks on the roster, but if the opportunity arises, John Schneider should look to acquire him for cheap.
Each training camp players are cut from teams, whether they are a cap casualty, their play doesn't quite fit with a team, or any other variety of reason. During these cuts, a better option than the ones listed could become available that the Seahawks jump on and acquire. Or Carroll and Schneider could stay the course and stick with the development of Boykin. No matter which sequence plays out, the best move looks to be bringing in a veteran for training camp.