Battle For Backup Quarterback3 min read
Jameis Winston – This isn’t even up for debate, the position belongs to Jameis and no matter what personal views some may have of him, he will be the starter for the full season barring any injury. He has the utmost confidence of both Head Coach Bruce Arians and Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich, and they’ve made it clear that Jameis Winston is the starter and this is his team.
Blaine Gabbert – The man known as the worst backup quarterback in the league was obviously not brought in to compete for the starting job as that’s not even up for grabs at this point. The only logical reason to bring him in, was to quash any rumors or rumblings that Winston wasn’t the starter. The problem with that, is in the event that Winston goes out with an injury, Gabbert may be asked to step into the starting role, a role he’s obviously not comfortable with.
He has a career record of 13-35 with only one less interception than he has touchdowns, and has more than 5,000 fewer passing yards than Jameis with double the amount of seasons. These obviously aren’t stats you want in your starting quarterback, but if called upon to start, it would hopefully be for an extremely short and limited amount of time.
Ryan Griffin – While he hasn’t actually attempted a regular season pass in his entire NFL career, he’s obviously someone the fans are familiar with as he’s been serving in the role as perennial 3rd string quarterback for the past couple of seasons with the Buccaneers. Not having any regular season experience isn’t going to hurt him in his battle for backup though, as training camp and the pre-season will give him plenty of opportunity to finally take the role of backup quarterback. Should the necessity arise, I would actually be more confident in trusting the reigns to someone who has never played a snap but has been learning the game behind Winston over the man known as the worst backup in all of football.
Nick Fitzgerald – He will unfortunately be starting out training camp on the Active/Non=Football Injury list with hamstring issues, but what we saw in his scouting tape was enough to know we don’t have just another backup quarterback. He possesses some intriguing speed and provides the team with options similar to what Taysom Hill provides the Saints. Certainly being injured going into training camp will limit his ability to win the backup role, but when healthy, he may prove to be a better option and force the team to part ways with Gabbert.
With Fitzgerald being injured, the battle won’t be nearly as fierce as it could be, and we will likely see the team keep all 4 quarterbacks until Fitzgerald is healthy, at which time either Fitzgerald or Gabbert will be in a tougher battle for a roster spot than we saw in training camp for the backup role.
Gabbert hasn’t panned out in 8 seasons and cutting him will free up $600,000 in bonus money that he’s eligible for assuming he makes the roster. While we wouldn’t save any of his salary, going the route of youth over experience may prove to be the better choice in the long run.