LISTEN: Backup QB, Most Important NFL Player Not On The Field

Tom Bogert, CBS Local Sports

Quarterback in the NFL is the money position. Teams often fold without them — ahem, 2015 Dallas Cowboys. So the NFL Draft becomes particularly exciting when quarterbacks get selected. They’re seen as saviors, they create hope for the future.

Jason Fitz of The Jason Fitz Show looks at the importance to franchises of drafting the right quarterback. But he’s not talking about starters, he’s talking about backups.

As the Cowboys saw, a backup quarterback is a little like aspirin. You only realize you’re out when you really really need it.  You’re sick and hungover, scrambling for some relief from the pain. That’s when you notice.

“It’s easy to get lost on a position that should be drafted every single year, a position that should be valued, a position that should be specifically scouted and specifically drafted for, and that position — are you ready? Get ready — is backup quarterback,” said Fitz.

On lucky teams, the starter never misses significant time. So if the backup fills in occasionally, and does just enough in a few snaps, he gains value on the trade market. The team can then keep a contributor on the cheap, or trade him for a high pick or another valuable player.

“Think about it: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are sitting on Mike Glennon,” said Fitz. “Why? Because Glennon is a backup… They’re starting to get some trade questions… Well, he’s not available for trade. Why? Because he’s cheap, he’s cheap and he’s young.”

Every NFL team must have a competent quarterback to be competitive. But quarterback play around the league is generally lacking. Teams are so desperate that even mediocre quarterbacks are ridiculously valuable… and that goes for backups too.

“The quarterback market has gotten so bad, it’s gotten to be so pitiful that teams everywhere are desperate,” said Fitz. “They’re desperate for somebody young that they can plug in and might be able to play. They’re desperate for someone that they can see if there’s any magic there, they’re desperate for somebody who simply doesn’t suck.”

Check out other episodes of The Jason Fitz Show.

Smart teams, like the New England Patriots, get ahead of the curve. They drafted Jimmy Garoppolo, who’s taken just enough snaps of adequate football to inspire confidence. He can fill in should Tom Brady serve a suspension, and other teams may target him in a trade.

“Having too many quarterbacks is leverage,” said Fitz. “Good teams have leverage. Having too many good quarterbacks means having something in the bank that you can get value for. That’s power.”

Backup quarterbacks drafted in the middle rounds and signed for small contracts are extremely valuable.

“You can draft a quarterback in the third or fourth round, get him at a very reasonable contract and that contract lasts four years,” said Fitz. “Maybe he’ll play a few times over a couple years, maybe somebody gets injured, and there’s just enough film for people to be intrigued.”

As a fan of repetitive disappointment and frustration, Tom holds Liverpool FC, the New York Knicks and New York Red Bulls near and dear to his heart with occasional joy coming from the New York Giants and New York Yankees.

Questions or comments? Feel free to follow Tom on Twitter or send him an email.

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