The Los Angeles Rams have veteran starting quarterback Matthew Stafford locked up through 2026, but with questions surrounding if last year’s fourth round pick Stetson Bennett will ever take the field for LA, and current backup Carson Wentz now a free agent, could the Rams be in the market for a long-term answer at backup QB?
Indianapolis Colts QB Gardner Minshew might be the perfect man for the job. He has proven he can be a high quality player off the bench if called upon, and at only 27 years old, he’d be the perfect bridge quarterback if Stafford was to retire in two years when his contract runs out.
The Colts selected QB Anthony Richardson fourth overall in the 2023 draft, but just five games into the season, he sustained a shoulder injury that ended his rookie year prematurely. Minshew came in and went on to take the Colts to a 9-8 record, while earning his first Pro Bowl nod. If not for a dropped 4th and 2 conversion against the Houston Texans, he may have also earned an AFC South division title and playoff berth.
Some may ask if Minshew played so well, why wouldn’t a potential starting opportunity be available for him heading into 2024?
Well, unfortunately for Minshew, Richardson will be returning to Indianapolis next season. The Colts invested a high first round pick in the QB out of Florida, and may just want to rid themselves of Minshew to show their commitment to Richardson, while at the same time, avoiding any chance of a quarterback controversy if Richardson were to get off to a rough start in his second year.
Secondly, Minshew’s 16 touchdowns and 3305 yards, while solid numbers, don’t exactly set the NFL world on fire as a starting quarterback. With free agents like Vikings QB Kirk Cousins available, and Bears QB Justin Fields rumored to be on the trade block, as well as a quality 2024 QB draft class up coming, Minshew is probably destine to be back on the bench next season just based on a lack of spots available.
Colts’ Gardner Minshew uncertain of future despite going from QB2 to Pro Bowler: "Ain’t no tellin’. That’s something they gotta tell me" (via @TCNGrantGordon)https://t.co/MjbJPgVaMd pic.twitter.com/sFP65yAQO7— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) February 2, 2024
According to spotrac.com, Minshew has a projected market value of $5.3 million annually next season. If the Rams were to sign him to a 3-4 year deal, they would secure one of the NFL’s best backup quarterbacks in the league, while locking up a possible bridge QB who wouldn’t even turn 30 until the start of the 2026 season.
Minshew has great numbers for a backup quarterback, boasting a 90.2 QB rating and an almost 3:1 touchdown to interception ratio. In 37 starts, Minshew has 9,937 yards, 59 touchdowns and 24 interceptions. He’s what most teams look for in a backup QB because he doesn’t turn the ball over much. While he may not light the game on fire, he also will most-likely never be the specific reason you lose one.
Head coach Sean McVay seems to have completely turned around the career of current Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield. After a rocky first five seasons in the league, Mayfield joined the Rams in 2022 after being released mid-season by the Carolina Panthers.
Due to an major injury to Stafford, Mayfield got on the field and played so well to close out the season that he earned himself a chance at the starting role in Tampa Bay this year. After leading his team to the playoffs, he now is in line for a long-term deal and a decent pay day this offseason. McVay may be able to do the same thing with Minshew, but unlike Mayfield, also keep him in LA for a post-Stafford run this time around.
To make it clear, in no way am I saying Minshew should replace Stafford while he is still available to play for LA. In addition, I also don’t think this should hold the team back from drafting a young QB down the road, as Minshew has been mostly a career backup. But making a move for Minshew would buy the Rams something very valuable at quarterback - stability over an extended period of time. It would give the team insurance for Stafford, rather that be due to retirement down the road or injury as he enters his 16th NFL season, and allow for a smooth transition past this current iteration of the roster.