Matt Flynn and the 5 Most Enticing Backups Worth Trading For
Nobody gave Matt Flynn a chance.
The night was Dec. 19 of last year. The Green Bay Packers were visiting the New England Patriots in a game they seemingly had to win to keep their playoff hopes alive, and nobody was giving them a second thought.
That's because Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay's superstar quarterback, had a concussion and was on the sideline. Instead, Flynn, a seventh-round draft pick, was in the pocket. And the third-year player almost did the unthinkable.
Flynn sparked the Packers and nearly lifted Green Bay to the upset. He threw for three touchdowns, 251 yards and a quarterback rating of 100.2. He was one interception, or one poorly managed winning drive, away from beating the Patriots and eventual MVP Tom Brady on their own turf.
Flynn's story was surprising, but it was hardly unprecedented. NFL history is filled with teams that turned to backup quarterbacks in an effort to reverse a losing streak, spark a team or salvage a floundering season.
There are 32 teams in the league, and often, not every good quarterback has a starting job. The 1999 St. Louis Rams found this out first-hand, as did the 2001 Patriots and 2006 Dallas Cowboys, to give a few examples.
Knowing this, backup quarterbacks can be another team's treasure. The following are five backups around the league that would be worth looking into for teams with quarterback woes.
A note: The only quarterbacks considered are ones entrenched in the second spot on the depth chart. So, Tim Tebow and Kyle Orton, who are both competing for the starting job, aren't in the running.
For a guy playing behind one of the most secure starting spots in the league, Brian Hoyer's developed quite the reputation.
He has looked poised and polished in his limited action. In his only lengthy appearance last year he relieved Tom Brady in the finale against Miami and fared well, going 7-of-13 for 122 yards and one touchdown, an impressive 42-yard bomb to since-released Brandon Tate.
Hoyer had a good preseason as well, showing that he's continued to improve. He started one game and went 15-of-21 for 171 yards and a touchdown in a 47-12 thumping of Jacksonville.
His buzz is increasing, and for good reason. His performance has been high, and Bill Belichick has done well in his quarterback development in New England. He hit on Brady and Matt Cassel and appears to have two promising players for the future in Hoyer and 2011 draft pick Ryan Mallett.
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He fell out of favor in Tennessee, but Vince Young has a resume unparalleled by most backups.
He's made two Pro Bowls. He was an Offensive Rookie of the Year. He was the third overall pick in 2006. Not bad for a guy with a clipboard.
Young hasn't been a fantasy stud, but that's not important. That's overrated. What teams look for in a quarterback is a guy that wins games and competes when he's playing. As we saw in 2009, when Young rescued an 0-6 team coming off a 59-0 loss and led it to six wins in eight games, he has that ability.
And as we saw last year, when he was involved in an altercation with coach Jeff Fisher and benched after starting the first 10 games, he has an ability to go the other way, too. He's trick or treat.
Still, he can be a starter. He can handle it. He can win games. If a team is looking for a leader, Young is the guy. If you get the right Young.
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Any week now, Beck might not be eligible for this list.
He's No. 1a on the Redskins depth chart behind Rex Grossman, who started hot but has cooled significantly. He's thrown only one more touchdown than he has interceptions, and his rating is a paltry 78.7. Even Donovan McNabb, who has a 39-yard passing performance to his name this year, is 1.3 points higher.
The only thing saving Grossman is the Redskins' record. Somehow, they're winning with him. So, Beck stays on the bench.
However, Beck is as close to a starting job as anyone. He had a strong preseason, going 14-of-17 for 140 yards on four scoring drives in one performance.
He got starting experience with a train-wreck Dolphins team in 2007, and was in line to get the starting job in Washington until the final week of the preseason when Grossman upped his game, a trend that continued into the regular season, when Grossman threw for 305 yards in a win over the Giants.
Beck's not Steve Young behind Joe Montana, and at 30 years old, he's not a project at this point. However, if a good team fell into injury woes and needed a dependable fill-in, Beck could be the pick.
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Chris Redman is to being a backup what Wade Phillips is to being a coordinator. He had a chance at the higher level—two, actually—and it didn't work out, so he works behind someone else on the sideline.
However, Redman has starting experience, something most backups don't. He's 34 years old and, like Beck, he's hardly an option to hitch a franchise to, but in dire straits, he could keep a team afloat for a season.
After all, he's worked with worse. In 2007, the Atlanta Falcons were a disaster. Michael Vick let them down, Bobby Petrino let them down and with no quarterback or coach stability, the team sunk rapidly.
During the spiraling descent that ultimately led to taking Matt Ryan with the third overall pick, Redman provided consistency. He threw for 10 touchdowns in five starts and sported a rating of 90.4, a bright spot in an otherwise dismal 4-12 campaign.
If a team was in need of quarterback help, Redman could be a solution.
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For a guy with one career start, Flynn could have an interesting offseason.
He's only 26 years old, and he drew praise for the way he stepped in for Aaron Rodgers in games against the Detroit Lions and the New England Patriots. Teams unwilling to spend high draft picks on unproven quarterbacks could opt to spend money on a player who has shown he can function at the NFL level, even in only a small glimpse.
Flynn could have another element to his advantage. Like Hoyer, Flynn plays behind arguably the best quarterback in the league. Unlike most backups, who are behind non-elite quarterbacks, which can serve as a demerit to their own talents, Flynn can make the argument that he is a starting-caliber quarterback. After all, what healthy quarterback not named Brady or Drew Brees could beat out Rodgers for a starting gig?
He plays behind the defending Super Bowl MVP and he already has a headline-grabbing performance to his credit. Who knows? Maybe Flynn will be able to hand the clipboard to someone else someday.