Why NFL Teams Must Stop Overpaying for Natural Backup QBs

Erick FernandezCorrespondent IIAugust 25, 2012

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 11:  Quarterback Matt Flynn #15 of the Seattle Seahawks rushes against Zach Clayton #69 of the Tennessee Titans at CenturyLink Field on August 11, 2012 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

With 11 days until the start of the NFL season there are two interesting quarterback battles going on during this NFL preseason and neither of them involves whatever is going on in Jets camp with Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow.

Both the Seattle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals have been put in a very tough position by the inconsistent play of quarterbacks who were signed to lucrative contracts. These quarterbacks were expected and paid to take the reins and provide some stability at the position for these two franchises.

Unfortunately for the Seahawks and the Cardinals, they believed that the best candidates to help their franchise move forward were quarterbacks that were backups for a few years.

Big mistake.

Last summer quarterback Kevin Kolb was traded from the Philadelphia Eagles to the Arizona Cardinals and was then given a five-year contract extension worth $63.5 million. This summer, Matt Flynn signed a three-year contract with the Seahawks for $19.5 million.

Neither of these quarterbacks had any significant time as a starter, but apparently they impressed enough in their limited time on the field to warrant these contracts.

After Michael Vick was sidelined with a rib injury in 2010, Kolb had to start in his place for a few games. In his five starts, the Eagles went 2-3. Kolb threw for 1,197 yards passing in the season and threw seven touchdowns as well as seven interceptions.

They say that hindsight is 20/20, but it's clear to say that this sample size as a starter should not have been large enough for the Cardinals to give him the keys to the car.

Matt Flynn, on the other hand, might have secured a large contract with one start. Granted, it was an absolutely phenomenal performance on his part, but it was still ONE start.

In the final game of the 2011 season with Aaron Rodgers sitting out, Matt Flynn and the Green Bay Packers faced off against the Detroit Lions. Flynn completed 31 out of 44 passes, had 480 yards passing and threw for six touchdowns on their way to victory.

Yes, Flynn did have a great game once upon a time against the New England Patriots in 2010, but after that performance against the Lions, GMs across the league were sold. Teams that didn't have reliable quarterbacks began contacting Flynn's agent as if he would be the answer to their prayers.

Well, at this point in the preseason, both of their jobs as the starter might be at stake.

After Kolb posted a 3-6 record in 2011 he is under a lot of pressure to perform up to his contract, but it appears that he and John Skelton are at a stalemate and neither has seized the starter's role. That's not what the Cardinals want to see with their $63.5-million man.

Flynn was competing but just lost the starting spot to the third-round draft pick out of University of Wisconsin, quarterback Russell Wilson, who has impressed so far. Wilson, who has thrown five more touchdowns and has 362 more yards passing than Flynn, was officially named the starter for the Seahawks' last preseason game against the Oakland Raiders and also the first regular season game on September 9th.

One must presume that the unimpressive performances of Kevin Kolb and Matt Flynn might send a message to teams in the future with quarterback issues; looking for starting talent deep in a team's depth chart might be extremely dangerous if they want to compete long-term.

The best way to look for franchise quarterbacks will be through the draft or free agency. That has been the case in the past and will continue to hold true in the future.

Seattle and Arizona tried to go a different route and on September 9th when the Seahawks face the Cardinals, we might see both Kevin Kolb and Matt Flynn both riding the bench as overpriced backups. Yikes.


Erick Fernandez is the creator of I Want to Thank My Hood & My Psychiatrist