The following is not the idea of a reasonable person. It is neither well-thought out nor plausible. Rather, it’s a desperate plea from a (largely theoretical) fan of the Green Bay Packers that could also apply to the Minnesota Vikings:
The NFL should allow teams that lose a starting quarterback to injury to steal the back-up from another team. This sort of exists already to an extent; teams are free to pluck practice squad players away from other clubs for use in the active roster.
And, yes, this (admittedly imperfect) idea was sparked by the Packers losing star QB Aaron Rodgers for an undetermined amount of time due to a collarbone fracture. The team was sort of rolling along despite a bunch of other injuries, developing a power-run game and serviceable defense to go with its stellar pass game. Then one hit and 5-2 becomes 5-5.
Yes, injuries are part of the game. But quarterback is a different animal. Teams can only play one at a time, making it hard to create quality depth at the position. In fact, there probably aren’t 60 truly NFL-caliber quarterbacks in the world.
Plus, injuries are on the rise – or so it seems. I have no proof because, again, this is a total sham of an idea, but it sure seems like guys are getting hurt at an alarming rate. Maybe that’s the all the concussion research coloring my perceptions. (Or perhaps I have a concussion.)
Of course, there would have to be some parameters. A team could protect its back-up QB by playing him a certain percentage of the total reps. And there would be a provision allowing teams to sacrifice one roster spot – so keeping 52 guys instead of 53 – in order to ensure that its No. 2 signalcaller could not be poached. But that exception would last just one season, sort of like the franchise tag.
That way a team could at least have some time to decide whether or not the back-up was worth developing or determine that he might be the future at that position. Applying that to this scenario, Green Bay would have had one year to hide Aaron Rodgers as the back-up to Brett Favre before risking losing him to another team.
Actually – and this just came to me – what if the NFL takes a page from the other football and establishes a player loan system? That is, if a player is riding the pine for one club he can be loaned out to another. Team A retains the player’s permanent rights, but doesn’t have to pay his salary; Team B gets help; and the player gets valuable game time in order to continue developing.
That just might be the ticket. Problem solved. Just don’t ask me what second-string QB the Packers should pursue in this scenario; I can’t even name every starter in the league. It just seems that there have to be options beyond Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzien.