There has not been a lot of talk this offseason of who will backup Matthew Stafford, but the news that Baker Mayfield signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers brings a very pressing issue to the forefront of the Rams’ needs. If Stafford is starting, who is the insurance behind him? If Stafford isn’t starting—something that happened eight times last season with disastrous results—who can Sean McVay trust L.A.’s offense to?
These are the remaining options after Mayfield joins a group of signed quarterbacks that already includes Andy Dalton, Mike White, Case Keenum, Sam Darnold, Jarrett Stidham, Jimmy Garoppolo, Taylor Heinicke, and Nick Mullens.
Maybe a name that pops out because he has arm talent, a little bit of experience, spent last year in Shane Waldron’s system with the Seahawks, and won’t cost much is Drew Lock. He has not proven to be as good as Baker Mayfield, as his seasons with the Broncos were disastrous, but Lock is much better than the backups that L.A. has had for the past few years before Mayfield.
Seven years after the Rams chose Jared Goff over Wentz, this could be an interesting time to ponder his name again. Wentz won’t be handed a starting job anywhere, he may be entering the “Joe Flacco” stage of his career.
He nearly helped the Falcons beat the Rams last season. But Mariota also probably got his last shot to start and his mysterious exit from Atlanta when the team turned to Desmond Ridder probably puts him firmly in the backup category now. Back where he was for two years on the Raiders.
Bridgewater came in for two games with the Dolphins in Mike McDaniel’s offense last season and it didn’t go well. The 31-year-old is firmly entrenched as an experienced backup who can handle a few spot starts, but not much more.
Would McVay really run it back?
It may not be his fault, but it’s hard to forget that the Eagles went 14-1 with Jalen Hurts and 0-2 with Gardner Minshew last season. If fans can let go of the “he should be starting” story, Minshew is a good backup to have.
Have NFL fans ever forgotten a QB story faster than “The Cowboys went 4-1 with Cooper Rush”?
Unlike Minshew, Brissett played better than his team’s starter last season, proving to be an adequate fill-in for the Browns prior to Deshaun Watson’s return. Brissett could be the right choice if the Rams are worried that Stafford won’t be ready for the start of the season.
The Joe Flacco category.
The Colts cut Ryan, I have no idea where Matt Ryan thinks he is as a starter right now. But he is a free agent.
Zach Wilson, Jets
By all accounts, the Jets are going to get Aaron Rodgers. Even more certain: They aren’t going to go with Zach Wilson. His 2021-2022 offensive coordinator, Mike LaFleur, is now the Rams offensive coordinator. It all makes sense. The biggest issue being whether the Rams can actually trust him to be a Stafford insurance plan as soon as 2023.
Matt Corral, Panthers
Having traded up in the draft to pick a quarterback, Carolina is reportedly shopping Corral for a ‘low price’ so that they can officially move onto a different QBOTF. A third round pick out of Ole Miss in 2022, Corral missed the entire season with an injury. On one hand, he’s all potential and Corral had some interesting abilities and tape going into the draft. On the other, it’s interesting that the Panthers would rather move on from a young quarterback who they just invested a third round pick in instead of keeping him for basically nothing. Does it hurt to keep Corral as a QB3 if you’re the Panthers? I guess so.
Nick Foles, Colts
Would the Rams look into bringing him back? I don’t know what Indy plans to do with Foles, I doubt that he’s a trade candidate and probably more of a release candidate, but he could end up available for very little.
Kyle Trask, Bucs
I’m assuming that the Bucs really do want to pit Baker Mayfield against Trask, like they say they do. But nobody gets the sense that anybody is rooting for Trask to win the job and that’s notable when you spend two years behind Tom Brady and there’s no hype when you get the opportunity. A day two QB draft pick is not the same as a day two pick at other positions. Very few day two QBs have become quality starters. So Corral and Trask could make sense as backups, but do they give teams hope at a future at the position?
The same could be said about Zach Wilson. But his potential was enough to go second overall only two years ago and he’s had two years to study under LaFleur. He might be the choice.