It’s extremely difficult for an NFL team to feel comfortable with its core looking forward without a young, talented quarterback.
Peyton Manning and Tom Brady may each want to play until they’re 40, but it would be foolish for their respective teams not to keep the backup QB position as talented and ready as possible.
If one of them gets hurt, their team’s Super Bowl dreams—if not playoff hopes—may be dashed, just like that.
The Green Bay Packers showed us how well a contingency plan and developmental project at quarterback can work with an aging incumbent star. Aaron Rodgers has done pretty well for himself since Brett Favre left in 2008—the time that he actually suited up for another team.
Teams that can consider their respective cores and be comfortable with their outlook are probably seeing the following in-house: a quarterback younger than 30, at least one youthful skill-position player with a track record and at least a couple of young defensive cornerstones to build around.
It doesn’t hurt when the QB is locked up for modest sums for this year and next—how far in the future can we really project in the NFL, anyway?
Most of the teams that fit that description are in the NFC.