To say the market for quarterbacks in 2013 is thin would be a laughable understatement. The draft provides a list of highly questionable talent, even at the top, while the current free agent class is cringe-worthy at best. Judging from the underwhelming crop of talent available, the New Orleans Saints are going to have a tough time selecting a suitable backup for Drew Brees at quarterback this offseason.
Although the Saints have the envied position of fielding a future Hall of Fame quarterback, someone has to back him up. Chase Daniel has done a solid job in the role since being acquired in free agency in 2009. By solid job I mean Daniel has looked productive at quarterback in preseason games, and has been a reliable placeholder for Garrett Hartley on field goals and extra points.
On the field, Daniel was never asked to do much and he saw very little action. He just had to rock that backwards cap and celebrate touchdowns with Drew. Even with very few signs that Daniel could lead the Saints in action when it counted, Who Dat Nation always felt comfortable having him around. His size, attitude, and work ethic gave him a bit of a "Drew Brees in training" vibe. Whether it was actually true we'll never really know.
Now the Saints have the unenviable task of replacing the man who could've stuck around to replace the legend. I don't think Chase was ever the guy for the replacing Brees job, he would've been a bit old for the role by the time that came around and who knows if he would've been truly ready for it. Many quarterbacks have withered under the pressure of replacing legends like Marino, Aikman, and Elway. I, like many, will be rooting for Chase to succeed in Kansas City and hope he takes with him lessons learned from Drew.
With Chase Daniel now emerging from the shadow of Brees, the Saints have to decide what type of backup quarterback they want. I see the Saints as being two more years away from having to make "the pick" to groom the replacement for Drew Brees. Regardless, someone has to be brought in now to handle the job until that time comes.
I would love for the Saints to have Kyle Orton as their backup quarterback, he's a guy who could flourish under Payton in a backup role and provide to be a valuable insurance policy. Unfortunately, he's currently in that role in Dallas, at a nice salary as well. No one close to Orton's skill set will be available to the Saints at this time, so they will need to chose what type of role will be most beneficial to the team this upcoming season.
There are three types of roles a backup quarterback can fill:
The Life Preserver - A guy that can pick up victories when the starter goes down for a few games. He won't likely win games for the team himself, but will keep the team in games by eliminating mistakes and allowing the other stars to shine. Should be had at a reasonable price.
The Short-Term Solution - An unspectacular pickup, usually a journeyman type player who has made a career as a backup quarterback. Just enough talent to stay in the league, not enough talent to start for a team. Usually had on the cheap.
The Understudy - A young QB with a reasonable amount of talent and potential. Not top draft round material but maybe an overlooked gem that needs the right pairing of coach and teammates to develop his game. A guy that can learn from a top-end starter by standing on the sidelines. Also a low priced option.
For each role I have chosen a free agent or incoming rookie that would be a possible best option available for the Saints.
Life Preserver: Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs ***Signed with Minnesota***
Cassel is now available with the Chiefs picking up both Alex Smith and Chase Daniel to fill their quarterback roles in 2013. He has had some outstanding seasons as a starter but he usually finds himself back on the bench at some point. While his career has proven to be a bit erratic, if available, he would be the best of some very bad options.
Short-Term Solution: Drew Stanton, Indianapolis Colts ***Signed with Arizona***
Stanton, a free agent, has had an unspectacular career thus far but is still relatively young and pretty talented compared to the rest of this free agent class. He can backup Brees for a year or two until someone better comes along. Stanton stands as a safe bet in the short term as a low risk/moderate reward choice.
Understudy: Jordan Rodgers, Vanderbilt
A poor man's Chase Daniel, Rodgers has a similar build to the former Saints backup. Rodgers threw for 2,500 yards, 15 TD's, and 5 picks with a 60% completion percentage in his Senior season at Vanderbilt. The Saints shouldn't spend a draft pick on Rodgers, but if he is available as an undrafted free agent the Saints might want to take a look at him. Best case scenario has him playing with something to prove, like Eli has done with his older brother receiving all of the accolades.
In the end I'd take no issue with the Saints selecting one of these three players to fill the backup role. I do worry though that they might just select someone like David Carr. Ultimately I think the Saints will bring in Sean Canfield (yes, the guy who always gets cut to make roster space) because of his familiarity with the organization and the offense. Canfield can push whoever else is chosen and possibly win the backup job outright himself.
It's decision time for the Saints, but not yet time for "the decision". As long as Drew Brees is healthy and able, the Saints are set at quarterback. How do you think the Saints should fill the backup quarterback role this offseason, Who Dat Nation? Leave your comments and insight below!