GREEN BAY, Wis. – Quarterback is the most important position in football, if not the most important position in sports.
In years past, a doomsday scenario would be like the one that unfolded for the Green Bay Packers early in 2018, when star quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone and a promising season went down the drain.
A doomsday scenario for 2020 would be COVID-19 finding its way inside the quarterbacks room and leaving the team high and dry the day before a game.
One possibility would be for teams to have a so-called quarantine quarterback. It’s an idea discussed by the Packers, according to coach Matt LaFleur.
“We’ve floated around that idea a little bit,” LaFleur said during a pre-training camp Zoom call on Sunday. “Have not made a decision on that at this point, but that’s certainly something that’s not out of the realm.”
Maybe that would be one of the backups. That’s an option Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians mentioned in keeping one of Tom Brady’s backups safe in case of emergency. Another possibility would be an unemployed quarterback with some familiarity with the offensive scheme.
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Teams could carry these guys on their rosters, trust them to get the physical work they need to away from the facility, and have them in on all the meetings virtually. Those teams could either have those guys living at home, and fly them in as needed, or ask them to move to the team’s city for the season and hole up at an apartment nearby. For the players? Getting paid $12,000 per week (vets on the expanded practice squad will make $204,000 for the year) to fill that role seems like good work if you can get it. “It just makes too much sense,” McCartney said. “That’s an extremely inexpensive insurance policy at the most important position, and it gives you a guy who not just knows the offense but is keeping up with the intricacies of the game plan every week.”
For Green Bay, Tim Boyle would be an interesting option as a quarantine quarterback. Boyle spent all of last season immersed in LaFleur’s offense. With experience in the system and the ability to take part in game-planning via Zoom calls and iPad lessons, he could stay involved in the offense and be (relatively) ready in case of emergency even while not at the facility.
As an added bonus, that plan – which has not been discussed with Boyle – would allow the Packers to get first-round pick Jordan Love more reps on the practice field.
It’s hardly a foolproof plan. Under that scenario, it would be Love, not Boyle, thrown into action should something happen to Rodgers during a game. Maybe Love will be ready for a key role when the season kicks off in seven weeks, though the lack of offseason practices will make that quite a challenge.
Of the unemployed quarterbacks who know LaFleur’s offense, Manny Wilkins might be a logical emergency signing. An undrafted rookie last year, he spent all of his rookie year on the practice squad. He knows the offense as well as Green Bay’s key personnel. The Packers released him just after the draft, when the team drafted Love and signed undrafted free agent Jalen Morton.