Green Bay Packers Pursuing Colt McCoy Would Be a Mistake

Zach KruseSenior Analyst IAugust 15, 2012

August 13, 2011; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy (12) and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) talk after the game the game at Cleveland Browns Stadium.  The Browns won 27-17.  Mandatory Credit: Eric P. Mull-US PRESSWIRE

Days after the Cleveland Browns selected quarterback Brandon Weeden in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft, rumors started swirling that the team could and should deal 2011 starter Colt McCoy

The Green Bay Packers, fresh off losing backup Matt Flynn in free agency, were one team rumored to have interest in swinging a trade for McCoy, but no deal ever materialized. 

Four months later, the McCoy-to-Green Bay talk is back up and running. While there is no steadfast information that the Packers are still (or ever were) pursuing McCoy, doing so now wouldn't make much sense. The staff appears plenty comfortable with its situation currently.

However, ESPN's NFL Insider Adam Schefter wrote in his mailbag Monday that the Packers should send a fifth-round pick to Cleveland for McCoy right now. 

[Backup quarterback is] also a need, Jenna. If I were the Packers, I'd be on the phone right now, offering a fifth-round pick to the Cleveland Browns for Colt McCoy, who some teams around the league really like. Cleveland would be willing to deal McCoy for the right price, no matter what it says, and the Packers could use McCoy as much as any team in the league right about now. He would be great insurance for Rodgers and give the Packers the type of backup they would need to sustain their playoff hopes in the event of an injury.

The Packers currently have the most inexperience backup quarterback situation in football, and there's really no way around it.

No. 2 quarterback Graham Harrell bounced from the Browns' rookie camp in 2009 to a brief stint in Canada before signing with the Packers in May of 2010. He has never taken a snap in a regular season NFL game. 

A record-setting gun slinger at Texas Tech, Harrell comes into the 2012 season with little to zero pedigree as a NFL quarterback. He entered the start of training camp as the only NFL backup with no regular season attempts. 

The Packers also drafted B.J. Coleman out Tennessee-Chattanooga in the seventh round of this April's draft. Coleman transferred from Tennessee in 2009 after he was beaten out in spring camp by Jonathan Crompton.

Coleman has a NFL arm but is still raw and learning how to play the position. At some point down the road, the Packers expect him to be a viable candidate to play behind Aaron Rodgers

But those realities do not mean the Packers have an unsettled situation at backup quarterback. 

Harrell spent all offseason working on his arm strength, and he's been a stronger thrower of the football so far in training camp. Once limited in his passing tree, Harrell now has the arm talent to make every throw. 

He's also entering his third season in the Packers system, which many consider the best in football for developing the quarterback position. 

Working under the tutelage of Mike McCarthy and Tom Clements—two of the game's best minds for teaching the quarterback position—Harrell has shown the capacity early in camp and preseason to make quick decisions with the football.

His understanding of the offense is also very clear, with Rodgers going as far as to call Harrell an "expert," according to Mike Stofford of 

Yet Harrell's inexperience is a problem, and it has shown at times. During the Packers' preseason opener, Harrell missed a couple of throws he should have made and Green Bay's offense went three-and-out on its first three chances. 

To get Harrell more live action, McCarthy plans on giving his second-string quarterback a long look in the Packers preseason game against the Browns Thursday night. 

McCarthy, via Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette:

I think it’s very important to see as much of Graham Harrell as we possibly can. That’s where he is in his development. He doesn’t have a lot of playing time under his belt. Really last year is the most significant time he was able to have in a preseason. So I feel like he’s a little behind as far as opportunities based on his age and how long he’s been out of college.

Nothing about McCarthy's comments make it seem that he's in the market for another quarterback to add to the mix. He sounds like a coach that needs to get the young quarterbacks he does have on the field.

Trading for McCoy, and effectively throwing away all the time they've spent on developing Harrell into the quarterback they want backing up Rodgers would be a head-scratcher. 

McCoy, 25, would be facing an uphill climb to learn the system and be ready early in the 2012 season. It's possible that McCoy would never be more ready at any point this season than Harrell currently is now. 

It would also be very unlike GM Ted Thompson to give away a fifth-round pick in a panicked move to "fix" a problem only the media seems to see. If the Packers truly wanted to make a move for McCoy, it likely would have been during the second or third day of NFL draft. No move ever happened and the Packers denied rumors that anything was ever in the works.

Keep in mind that seventh-round pick Matt Flynn had exactly five NFL attempts before almost leading the Packers to win over the New England Patriots in his first-ever NFL start in 2010. A year later, Flynn threw for a franchise record 480 yards and six touchdowns in a Week 17 win over the playoff-bound Detroit Lions. Now, Flynn is set to be the Seattle Seahawks starter to begin 2012. 

Yet the same concerns most have over Harrell's hold on the backup position were the exact same worries voiced in Flynn before he burst onto the NFL stage. 

Why panic now?

Making this connection is an easy one, and it's still hard to blame even an established NFL insider like Schefter for making the suggestion. On the surface, such a move makes sense. 

But nothing about the Packers' current situation, especially when you hear from the staff, screams a drastic need for an upgrade at the backup quarterback position. McCarthy and his staff appear content with developing their guy, just like they were with Flynn. 

Throwing away that work for another project like McCoy just doesn't make football sense.