clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The backup plan: What chance does Terrelle Pryor have in unseating Tarvaris Jackson as the Seahawks backup?

Most fans were shocked when Seattle added an interesting young quarterback this year, but what are the chances he'll have much of an impact on the final roster?

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Seahawks have done pretty much everything we've expected them to do this offseason. They gave contract extensions to Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Doug Baldwin, and Pete Carroll. They released Chris Clemons, Sidney Rice, Red Bryant, and other players whose contracts no longer seemed to jive well in consideration with their health or age.

But what nobody expected was the addition of a 24-year-old quarterback who started nine games last season and who not long ago was considered perhaps one of the best prospects for the game.

Seattle traded a seventh round pick to the Oakland Raiders for Terrelle Pryor, and then immediately shot down any notion that he would be changing his position off of quarterback. Even after signing Tarvaris Jackson to a guaranteed deal, the team couldn't pass on the opportunity to add a young quarterback with way above-average speed at the cost of only a seventh. Had Pryor been in this draft class, he may not have even made it past the fifth.

It was a great opportunity to add a talented young player with potential, but what does it mean for Jackson, as well as the other two quarterbacks currently on the roster? Is Jackson in danger of losing his job as the backup? Is the team seriously considering going with a 3-QB roster this season after a number of years when they thought Dick Van Patten had six too many and said, "Two is enough"?

And finally, are the jokes in this article going to get any better?

No. But here's the rest of them anyway, as well as a comparison between T.J. and T.P. and the potential state of the competition between them now and what's to come.

Physically speaking

They say that "age ain't nothing but a number," but being the curious person that I am, I decided to do more research into the matter. It actually turns out that age isn't just a number. In reality, a person's "age" is a count-up (think of it as the opposite of a countdown) from the day they were born. More than just being a randomly assigned number that changes arbitrarily, as is the common misconception, age represents the number of "years" you have been alive, and with that, there are many differences between someone who has been alive five years against someone who has been alive for 45 years.

For example, John Travolta was born in February of 1954. Carefully calculating the difference between that date and today's date (June 2, 2014), we can see that Travolta is 60 years* old.

*scientists are still stumped as far as what a "year" is

When Travolta went in to audition for the starring role in Baby's Day Out 2 as the baby, the casting director said, "No, I'm sorry. You can't play the baby, John. Listen, you're a great actor. You were great in Broken Arrow. Clearly you've also had your face frozen in time like Han Solo in carbonite, like we all saw when you were presenting at the Oscars. But to be a baby, we're looking for someone 58 or 59 years younger than you, which is just a tad too much of a difference for us to be able to fix in post."

To which Travolta said, "Hey daddio, maybe I can play like the cooler older brother. I'm tellin' ya, I can play a seven-year-old, you cool cat! Owww!"

And then the casting director replied, "John.... youuuuu're hired! You'd be a great seven-year-old. After all, this is Baby's Day Out 2."

Now take all of that information and apply it to Tarvaris and Terrelle.

Jackson is more than six years older than Pryor, and what he lacks in potential, he makes up for in experience. In the case of a backup, are you looking for someone you can trust more or someone you think could become great? That's not a question with a hard-and-fast answer. It depends on the team and who the starter is. The Seahawks are not looking for a quarterback of the future anymore, but it doesn't mean that they don't want young quarterbacks with the potential to become great starters.

After all, they traded for Pryor.

In terms of stature, Jackson is 6'2, 225 pounds, while Pryor has been listed as both 6'4 and 6'6, so let's just call it 6'5 with a one inch margin of error. I've always condoned a one-inch margin of error. (That's a penis joke, everyone. Penis.)

It's obvious that height means very little to Pete Carroll and his staff. Short, tall, or in-betweenies, he's just looking for players that can play. Fast players. Athletic players. Hard-working players. Competitive players. Nowhere does "height" seem to come into it, at least not at QB.

Pryor may be seven or eight inches taller than the current starter, but Carroll doesn't care so much about that, and he obviously isn't worried about whether or not a taller player would affect the gameplan. If he didn't think Pryor had the potential to play in the system, he wouldn't have acquired him.

Phsyically, both quarterbacks match up fine. Age-wise, it's just a pick-your-poison sitch.

Statistically speaking

I've heard of Scatman John before, but Statman Kenneth? Well, let me tell you that as the Statman (ski ba bop ba dop bop), Jackson and Pryor may not be as far apart as you think. While Jackson has considerably more experience under his belt, including a full season as Seattle's starter in 2011, isn't it just as important to compare them relative to age?

Pryor is not yet 25, and in his first two seasons as a player with Oakland, his numbers aren't far off from Jackson's first two years as a player with the Minnesota Vikings, also before he turned 25:

Pryor: 170-of-302, 56.3%, 1,953 yards, nine touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 6.5 Y/A, 5.3 AY/A, 69.3 rating, 93 carries, 627 yards, three touchdowns

Jackson: 218-of-375, 58.1%, 2,386 yards, 11 touchdowns, 16 interceptions, 6.4 Y/A, 5.0 AY/A, 69 rating, 69 carries, 337 yards, four touchdowns

Though neither had much of a supporting cast to work with over their first two seasons, Jackson did have Adrian Peterson drawing some attention away from him and the passing game. Overall, you could make a pretty solid argument that Pryor has been the better quarterback before age 25.

Jackson has seemingly made huge strides since then, which could actually be a point in favor for Pryor.

In 2008, Jackson took a step forward, throwing nine touchdowns against only two interceptions, 7.1 yards per attempt, 7.7 AY/A, and a passer rating of 95.4. Jackson had a poor start to the season and was replaced by Gus Frerotte after two games. He came back later in the year and played very well over the final three games of the season, but that wasn't nearly enough to keep the Vikings from signing Brett Favre.

That relegated Jackson to backup duty for two seasons before joining the Seahawks in 2011. He wasn't anything "special" per se, but he was fine per se. He would probably perform even better if he had gotten to play with per se Harvin.

Over his last eight starts, Jackson completed 60% of his passes for 6.8 Y/A, 6.8 AY/A, 192 yards per game, eight touchdowns, four interceptions, and the team went 5-3. Without much of a ceiling, Jackson has still proven that he can manage the offense in Seattle quite successfully. His 140.2 passer rating on 13 passes last season is definitely intriguing compared to what we are used to seeing from him, but Jackson would almost certainly revert back to an average player (which isn't without value) given an extended period of time as the starter again.

What Pryor provides is the potential that Jackson had in 2008 with 50% more speed and 100% less Brett Favre. While Jackson had probably shown more potential as a passer, it's not like Pryor was completely useless with the Raiders.

First of all, it's the Raiders. Injuries plagued an offensive line that was already bad when healthy, and depending on your opinion of Denarius Moore, lack many good options after Rod Streater. And even then, it's easy to see that the unit has lacked a true number one threat for many years. Though the offensive line upgrade is debatable, how could Pryor perform on a unit with Marshawn Lynch, Percy Harvin, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Paul Richardson, Kevin Norwood, Zach Miller, Luke Willson, Anthony McCoy, Sidney Rice, or something along those lines?

More importantly, on a team that has a defense that will score points, keep you in games, give you the lead along with that great field position?

Second of all, Terrelle Pryor had some really good games with Oakland last year.

In a four-point loss to the Colts in Week 1, Pryor completed 65.5% of his passes for 217 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions, 7.5 Y/A, and 112 rushing yards. In a Week 3 loss to the Broncos that was closer than it should have been, Pryor completed 67.9% of his passes for 281 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions, and 10 Y/A. The next week, in a 10-point win over the Chargers, Pryor completed 78.3% of his passes for two touchdowns, no interceptions, and 9.6 Y/A.

In a win over the Steelers two weeks later, Pryor was only 10-of-19 for 88 yards and threw two picks, but showed off what he could do on the ground by busting out a 93-yard touchdown run, the longest of the year by any player.

But, as is already well-documented, Pryor also fell apart as a passer. From a Week 6 loss to the Chiefs to a Week 15 loss to the Chiefs (four starts, benched for Matt McGloin, two games as a backup), Pryor completed 49% of his passes for 5.7 Y/A, one touchdown and nine interceptions. In those cases, he was terrible.

In the season finale against the Broncos, Pryor was 21-of-38 for 207 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and 49 rushing yards. It wasn't a great performance (5.45 Y/A) and it was against a team that had nothing to play for at that point, but it was much better than what we had now become accustomed to seeing from Pryor.

There seems to be a widespread thought among fans that Seattle needs to move Pryor off of quarterback and use his athleticism and size to upgrade the skill positions, but that completely ignores the fact that a 6'6 player with sub-4.5 speed that hasn't turned 25 yet has actually held his own against NFL competition as a quarterback at times. That is not something you see every day, and not just because you probably don't watch football games every single day of your life. And in this case, it would mean you're watching highlights from the Chargers and Raiders 2013 matchups on repeat every day of your life. You're weird, man. Stop doing that.

You've heard of Scatman Caruthers, but now Statman Arthurs is here to tell you that Pryor has been shining some significant potential as a QB.

Financially speaking

Financially speaking, there's not much to speak of. Jackson has a cap hit of $1.25M next season and by releasing him, the Seahawks will save a grand total of

carry the one... jump pass the seven... divide by OP's mom...

Zero dollars.

Jackson's salary is fully-guaranteed, so releasing him would only be a football decision from this point forward. Pryor's 2014 salary registers at $705,000 and his cap hit of $766k would be fully relieved if the team decides not to keep him. Given that Russell Wilson's salary is less than $900,000, the defending Super Bowl champions are literally going to commit less than $3 million to the QB position next season.

There is no reason that I can think of to keep or release Jackson or Pryor based on financial reasons.

Hold on a second... that calculation... I'm OP!

Namely speaking

Both of these guys have letters in their first names that I don't expect to be there. As Keenan Thompson would say, "What's up with that?"

Either way when it comes to names, nobody has an advantage so I'll consider it a purshe.

Conclusionally speaking

Pete Carroll's Seahawks have been a fairly consistent two-QBs-at-a-time franchise, which is why it's so interesting that at the moment they have five. While B.J. Daniels and Keith Price seem like absolute locks (to not make the team), it's interesting that the team looks to at least be considering a three-QB roster at the moment. Given everything we've seen over the last four seasons, it would be ignorant to think that Daniels or Price don't have an outside chance at being a third string quarterback.

Most likely they would be headed for the practice squad or the waiver wire, but it's too early to tell. The biggest thing that Pryor has going for him at the moment is that he's a known quantity. A player with extremely good physical abilities that has some experience as a starter and has flashed intriguing in-game skills, but outside of that, we have no way of knowing if he's ahead of or behind the other three guys that aren't Wilson.

For the most part, we're making that judgment on our own because Pryor has been a well-known football player that's made national headlines at different points of the last five years or so. It's a much less significant advantage than the one that Jackson has.

Tarvaris Jackson is an NFL veteran going into his ninth season. He's got a guaranteed contract. The best that Seattle can hope for in terms of not moving forward with Jackson, is that like two years ago, they can trade him to a desperate team for a late, conditional draft pick. And that seems extremely unlikely, though not impossible to imagine if Pryor is great between now and September.

I really can't imagine a quarterback other than Jackson or Pryor backing up Wilson. So the question is whether or not Pryor can win the backup job, possibly prompting the release of Jackson, who may not be a fit as a third-stringer, or if he can do well enough to force the team to keep both him and Jackson. With the idea in mind that Pryor becomes the full-time backup in 2015.

As it is, Jackson seems to have a pretty strong hold on the backup job, but a lot can change between now and August, and I'm not just talking about the color of the leaves you jokesters. Price and Daniels also feel like they have something to prove, maybe more than any of the other three, so there could be a lot of shifts on the roster over the next two to three months.

It was only about nine months ago that Pryor seemed like he could finally be the quarterback of the future for the Raiders after a few strong performances. So even if it seems like Jackson is the favorite now, in the NFL, things can change almost instantly without much warning.

(Though playing for Oakland is always kind of a red flag.)