If Your NFL Team Needs a Franchise QB..What Should You Do? RG3, Peyton, Flynn?
Does your team need a new quarterback? Lots do every year. In 2012 there are some intriguing options for those who are shopping. Each have promise but are also fraught with peril. Take a look and decide what you would do:
Option 1 would be trading up to draft Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III. Griffin measured out at 6-2 3/8, which alleviated some concerns about his actual height vs. what was listed in the Baylor media guide. Griffin came on like gangbusters this year, surprising all the people who hadn’t heard much about any college quarterback not named Andrew Luck with a stellar, Heisman Trophy winning season where he displayed all the requisite capabilities that pro scouts look for. He was unable to unseat Luck as the consensus number one pick due, but did manage to walk away with the award that most observers favored Luck to win going into the season (Note to college football pundits: it might be a good idea to declare any returnee an overwhelming Heisman Trophy favorite. That didn’t work for Peyton Manning or Michael Vick, and it didn’t work now.). There was some serious concern with Griffin’s measureables; too often the dynamic superman college quarterback ends up being a relative midget who is too short to play at the pro level (although Doug Flutie and Drew Brees should have rendered that point moot by now). There was some genuine fear that Griffin was only six feet tall or maybe even 5-11 and not the 6-2 that had been quoted all season. He doesn’t come any criminal history or ethical questionas of right now there are no red flags. If you need a quarterback and you’re not the Colts, then RGIII is the way to go. The only problem is, how do you get to a high enough pick to take him. The Rams have the second pick and are looking to deal but it’s going to cost a lot to move up that high, probably multiple high picks in this year or next year’s draft. If your team badly needs a quarterback then chances are it badly needs some other things too. The NFL draft is usually about quantity over quality, but in a case like this you might want to make an exception.
Flynn is the latest in the line of backup quarterbacks who did well in limited duty and created an opportunity to cash in through free agency or a trade. He played well in 2010 for the Packers when Aaron Rodgers was hurt, and put in a terrific outing in the last game of the 2011 season when his team chose to sit Rodgers instead of risking injury. That apparently has convinced enough people that he is the real deal and that the former seventh round pick is worth breaking the bank for. (Side note: Flynn is listed at 6-2; why isn’t anyone commenting on that? If 6-2 is some kind of mendoza line like batting .200 or shooting 40% from the field, why does it only get mentioned occasionally?) He’ll be 27 when the 2012 season starts so you could conceivably be looking at a seven to ten year starter if all goes well. When he’s gotten to play, he’s put up major numbers and shown some real skills. If you’ve been through the Rex Grossman Experience or trying to convince yourself that Colt McCoy is a frnachise quarterback, you cold certainly do worse, right? Well, maybe… The history of backups who showed out over a small sample size who turned into big money starters is murky, to be generous. The ghosts of Scott Mitchell, Rob Johnson still lurk to this day. The Kevin Kolb experiment in Arizona has hit some rough waters, and the success stories never seem to get the pub they deserve. Jake Delhomme got the Panthers to a Super Bowl, while Matt Schaub has done well in Houston and the Packers have sent multiple backups (Mark Brunell, Aaron Brooks, Matt Hasselback) on to greater success in other towns. The fact that Flynn comes from the same team that produced those last three should be considered to anyone who’s nervous about acquiring him, but maybe not enough to pull the trigger.
Draft someone later
If you don’t want to pay the price in draft picks to move up for RGIII, or the possible price in dollars for Flynn, there’s always the option of picking someone else later in the draft and hoping they develop. There are several names being thrown around on that front from guys who might go later in the first round like Ryan Tannehill others like Brandon Weedon or Kirk Cousins. The lure here is easy; they’ll cost you less money up front and you won’t have to spend multiple picks to get them, which will allow you to better stock what is probably a depleted team. You also don’t have to deal with the pressure to put him in the game from day one, and risk hurting his long term career potential. For many decades, this was the preferred method for many teams. We’ve all heard the legend of sixth round pick Tom Brady, but guys like Brett Favre (second round), Kurt Warner (undrafted), and Brad Johnson (now defunct ninth round) have also won Super Bowls in recent years. But there are a few reasons to avoid this route. The first is that he just may not work out. Players who get drafted later usually have shortcomings that cause them to fall in the first place, chances are they won’t overcome those. And at quarterback, the science of first round picks has seemingly gotten more precise; 19 of last season’s eventual 32 starters were former first round picks and 6 of the last 7 Super Bowl winners were quarterbacked by first round picks. The only exception was Drew Brees who went in the early second round. The days of getting Tom Brady in the sixth round or Joe Montana in the third round aren’t gone, but they are fewer and further between.
Peyton is the X Factor to the process here. If he can play, and you consider your team on the brink of contending, then you have to consider him. To me, there are four questions to consider when thinking about Peyton. First, is he a significant upgrade over your current quarterback? Second, how quickly can you move up in your division? Third, what other moves would you need to make after getting him? And lastly, how invested are you in your current situation? In answer to the first question, roughly half the league could say yes. But when you use the other questions, the list gets shorter. Take away teams with a young quarterback they’re sticking with and you eliminate Minnesota, Tampa Bay, St. Louis, and Jacksonville. You subtract teams that don’t have an easy road to the top of their division and you eliminate Washington. Scratch teams with a significant financial investment at quarterback and you lose Arizona, Buffalo, and the Jets. So who does that leave? Miami, Seattle, San Francisco (Alex Smith is a free agent), Cleveland, and Denver. If he can play and you sign him he only costs money and no draft picks. The only draw back is that he’s clearly a short term, two to three year solution. And history shows (with Joe Montana and Brett Favre, among others) that the two to year solution is good for a playoff berth or two but no championship. But hey, a trip to the conference finals would be awesome for the Browns or Seahawks.
Lots of options, each with their own drawbacks. One option will cost you draft picks, others just money. Which way do you want to go if you need a QB? As a Redskins fan, I want my team to………..sign Peyton Manning. I never would have gone for that a few weeks ago, but now I do. If I could get RGIII without surrendering four draft picks, then yes I would do that. But there will be another ‘greatest prospect ever’ in another year or two so mortgaging so much for this one just doesn’t work for me. Flynn? Nope. He’s going to cost a nice chunk of change, and if he ends up being a product of the Packer system you’re screwed. Draft later? Yes, actually. I would do that AND sign Peyton. In your best case, Peyton plays for three years and then the draft pick is ready to go. And if the worst case happens, then you’re not in hock for five years to either guy. Peyton is an upgrade over what we have and can make us more viable in a division where two teams finished 8-8 and the winner finished 9-7. We need a better quarterback than we have now.