Backup QB Field is Shrinking, But Here Are Five Solid Choices

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Important Insurance

Matt Hasselbeck has retired and will join ESPN.ed. Getty Images

 

By now, pretty much anyone who delves deeply into the workings of the NFL understands the value of a good backup quarterback.

With defenders becoming bigger, stronger and faster, quarterbacks go down writhing on the ground at an alarming rate.

Look at 2016. It wasn't exactly a record-setting pace as far as quarterback injuries go, but a lot of big names had to sit out periods due to injury, including Tony Romo, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning and Joe Flacco.

So even teams who are set at quarterback are always on the lookout for quality backups, guys who can step up and win at least a few games, keep the ship from sinking completely, while the starter heals.

And who know, sometimes the backups take over for good.

Already, some of the good backups have hooked up with new teams, with fat contracts. Brock Osweiler and Mark Sanchez, both of whom should be backups, will most likely be starters with their new teams.

Osweiler signed with Houston for $72 million over four years. This for a guy who has started only seven NFL games.

Sanchez will get paid $4.5 million by Denver this coming season, the last year of his contract. Sanchez is a borderline starter in the league and the Broncos are casting about for a more solid signal-caller, since they lost both Manning to retirement and Osweiler to Texas.

Matt Hasselbeck, another quality backup, retired earlier this year and will join ESPN as another talking head.

So, the field is smaller. Here are my top five backup quarterbacks right now, this minute.

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5 - Jimmy Garoppolo, New England Patriots

Jimmy Garappolo, left, has learned from the best. Getty Images

 

Jimmy Garoppolo has spent the last two years in an NFL post-graduate school, with two of the top professors in Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. So, the least we know is that he has almost certainly learned something, even if he's never had the chance to show it on the field.

Brady has put together two sweet seasons at his advanced age, and the bench has been Garoppolo's permanent home, with no chance of even a hint of being Brady's successor any time soon.

Garoppolo has only played in 11 games and thrown 31 passes in real games, but word gets around and teams still remember the talents Garoppolo showed at the NFL Combine in 2014.

Trade speculation has been rampant since Brady signed that four-year extension earlier this year.

Garoppolo is playing for peanuts – relatively speaking – and he has a burning desire to start, so I doubt he will be in New England too much longer, sitting on the bench and waiting to eventually take the throne from the master. The only question is how much value the Patriots can get for him.

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4 - Shaun Hill, Minnesota Vikings

Shaun Hill has played in NFL for 14 years. Getty Images

 

Shaun Hill is sort of the quintessential backup, a quarterback with just enough talent to endure 14 years in the NFL.

He's now with the Minnesota Vikings, but he's also played for the San Francisco 49ers, Detroit Lions and St. Louis Rams. Oh yeah, also the Amsterdam Admirals.

Hill has been an overachiever his whole athletic career. Nobody wanted him out of high school and nobody wanted him out of college. He was an undrafted free agent.

He has had a relatively undistinguished NFL career, but he has had some high points, like a 300-yard passing game against Dallas and several impressive  comeback wins.

He's 36 years old and he's thrown for more than 8,000 yards in the NFL. His career quarterback rating is 85.2. All this is enough for a lot of teams.

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3 - Derek Anderson, Carolina Panthers

Derek Anderson, left, celebrates with Cam Newton. Getty Images

 

If you are someone who likes the limelight, how would you like to be the backup to Cam Newton, the vociferous, flamboyant Most Valuable Player in the NFL?

Anderson doesn't seem to mind. He doesn't dab and he doesn't celebrate every time his team makes a first down, but he has developed into a valued backup.

He did not play a down for his first two teams, the Ravens and Browns, and only entered an NFL game in 2006. His first start came in 2007 when he threw for 328 yards and five touchdowns against the Bengals. He led the Browns to a 10-6 record and was named a Pro Bowl alternate

He did a non-eventful one-year stint with Arizona before signing with Carolina in 2011.

He only plays now when Newton is hurt or resting, but he has shown he can lead an NFL team to a winning record and the playoffs. That's a big deal for a backup. He has shown he can play under pressure and that is also a big deal for a second banana.

Anderson could definitely be a starter on some NFL teams, but he has said often he is content with Carolina.

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2 - Drew Stanton, Arizona Cardinals

Drew Stanton backs up Carson Palmer. Getty Images

 

Stanton has been around since 2007 when he was drafted by Detroit. He sat out his rookie season on injured reserve, and has essentially been a backup ever since, filling in for injured starters and even second-stringers when needed.

He did fill in fairly ably for Carson Palmer when Palmer was hurt in 2014, going 5-3 as a starter. He barely played at all last year when the Cardinals made their march to the playoffs.

Still, the Cardinals think enough of him to sign him to a two-year deal for $6.5 million. Compare that to his original three-year $8.2 million deal when Arizona first acquired him from the Colts.

He's backed up Palmer for four years now. Palmer had an excellent comeback year this past season, but the man is 36 years old now and even when he was young he was susceptible to injuries.

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1 - Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Mike Glennon leads Bucs against Dolphins. Getty Images

 

Mike Glennon is a talented young quarterback who had the misfortune to be drafted by the Bucs in 2013.

Then he had the further misfortune of watching the Bucs take Famous Jameis Winston with the first overall pick in 2015.

With Winston solidly ensconced as the starter, for more than a year people have been asking why the Bucs have not traded the 6-foot-6 Glennon. Playing behind an awful offensive line, Glennon managed more than 4,000 career yards of passing, with 29 touchdowns strikes against 15 interceptions.

There are many who believe those stats could have easily been doubled with a better team, and the Bucs have been getting quite a few overtures from teams around the league, including the Broncos and Jets.

Glennon is in the last year of his contract, and Tampa Bay has reportedly upped the asking price for anyone looking to make a trade.