There are a handful of experienced NFL quarterbacks, from former Super Bowl MVPs to long-time journeymen, that become free agents at the end of this season.
There’s an idiom that states the backup quarterback is the most popular player on a football team. While the starting quarterback has to be pretty bad for that statement to ring true, the NY Giants were one of many teams in 2020 to know first hand the importance of having a good backup.
In the NFC East alone, 11 different quarterbacks started at some point during the season. The Giants had Daniel Jones and Colt McCoy; the Washington Football Team had Alex Smith, Dwayne Haskins Jr, and Kyle Allen; the Dallas Cowboys had Dak Prescott, Andy Dalton, Garrett Gilbert and Ben DiNucci; the Philadelphia Eagles had Carson Wentz and Jalen Hurts.
The trend doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. Alex Smith’s injuries are widely known. Carson Wentz missed the Eagles’ only Super Bowl victory due to injury. Dan Prescott was an ironman, starting in every game for four straight years, but suffered a grotesque injury this season that may sway decisions to let him sit, if needed, when he comes back.
And that’s just in the NFC East.
Jones is also susceptible. Jones has missed multiple games each season in his two years as a Giants starter. And the Giants didn’t have a two-time Super Bowl MVP on the bench this season to confidently take over for when Jones went down.
The Cowboys appeared ahead of the curve within the NFC East. Singing Dalton, a nine-year starter in Cincinnati, to be Prescott’s backup now looks like a great insurance move. Elsewhere in the NFL, the Las Vegas Raiders signed former Tennessee Titans’ starter Marcus Mariota, who came in and sparked the Raiders’ offense alive when starter David Carr went down with an injury.
Examples this season were plentiful. And while the Giants’ have reaffirmed their belief in Daniel Jones, they should still bring in a viable backup quarterback for if, and more likely when, Jones misses time.
But signing a solid backup also helps in other ways. Competition brings out the best in an athlete. Perhaps knowing there was a legend waiting on the bench gave Jones the edge he needed to play better as a rookie than he did in his second season.
Regardless, Jones still has some work to do to solidified himself as a true starter, let alone as a good quarterback. And these four quarterbacks should be considered by the Giants, both as a reliable option in case Jones goes down and also to light a fire under him to play better.