With the NFL season less than 100 days away, we still don’t fully know how COVID-19 will impact the regular season. We may not know all of the effects positive tests could have on teams until they occur.
However, teams are undoubtedly brainstorming certain contingencies. That includes one shared by Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians on Chris Long’s Green Light podcast. Speaking to the former defensive end Long, Arians discussed the possibility of having a “quarantine quarterback” on the roster during the season, in case of a positive test:
Yeah, that’s one of the things I’ve been pondering the last two or three weeks as we set the protocols. From what I’m understanding is if you test positive, you get quarantined for two weeks. Now, if you have no symptoms, I don’t know what that means. Is it a false one? There’s so much to learn and still explore with this thing, but I’ve thought about keeping the third quarterback on the roster out of the room. We have two guys that have been in our system, really sharp. So, I might have to quarantine a quarterback just in case of a quarantine.
It’s quite the idea from Arians, who never hesitates to speak his mind. The idea of a quarantine quarterback wouldn’t work out great for all, or even most, teams. But it could make some sense for the Seahawks, who currently have rookie UDFA Anthony Gordon and incumbent veteran Geno Smith behind Russell Wilson.
In a scenario in which Wilson missed games in 2020, Seattle would likely prefer to look to the veteran Smith to keep them afloat in the short-term. However, looking long-term, Gordon could be the better backup to have. The rookie is cheaper than Smith, under contract for longer, and possesses a higher ceiling. In a normal season, the two would do battle in training camp and preseason, with the loser of the competition presumably released during cutdowns from 90 to 53. This won’t be a regular season.
What if the Seahawks, confident in Smith’s grasp of the offense in his second year in Seattle, kept all three on the roster and used the veteran as a quarantine quarterback? In this scenario, Smith could be away from the facility but ready to return to the team at a moment’s notice, already up to speed within the system, and prepared to play relief duty. Meanwhile, Gordon could be in the facility, learning the Seahawks’ offense, refining his mechanics on a day-to-day basis, and getting up to speed with the NFL—without being forced into action should the scenario arise in his rookie season.
Ultimately, it is a wild idea from Arians, a sign of the even wilder times. It’s ridiculous, but so too will be the circumstances of the 2020 season. Let’s hope that a quarantine quarterback doesn’t become a part of our NFL vernacular. However, if it does, Seattle could be well suited to pursue that option.