NFL teams had to trim their active rosters down to 53 on Saturday, which led to some surprising cuts. The Buffalo Bills released LeSean McCoy (who quickly caught on with his former coach). The New England Patriots cut Demaryius Thomas.
Perhaps most strangely of all, three teams cut all of their healthy backup quarterbacks.
The Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts are all down to one quarterback on their active roster, leaving them with plenty of questions ahead of Week 1 next Sunday.
What circumstances led to this?
The Colts are perhaps the least surprising team to be dealing with this situation, considering Andrew Luck’s surprise retirement last weekend. They were likely content with Jacoby Brissett as an overqualified backup and didn’t need a strong third-stringer.
However, the Colts deemed Phillip Walker not worth keeping, and troubled backup Chad Kelly is already suspended for the first two games of the season for a trespassing incident.
The Broncos have a similar situation, knowing that second-rounder Drew Lock would be unavailable to start the year, this time with a thumb injury he suffered during preseason. They willingly cut Kevin Hogan, leaving them without a backup for Joe Flacco and Lock unable to return until Week 9.
“[We] needed the [roster] spot,” Broncos general manager John Elway told NFL.com. “With Drew being out six to eight weeks, [we] figured the best thing for us as a team was to use that spot.”
The Seahawks, meanwhile, have no other quarterbacks left on the team to back up Russell Wilson — healthy, injured or suspended. They cut former Broncos first-rounder Paxton Lynch on Friday after he lost the backup job to Geno Smith. But in a surprise move one day later, the Seahawks cut Smith as well.
The Seahawks are not carrying a quarterback to back up Russell Wilson with the first game of the regular season a week away. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
MoreWhat would these teams do with an injured starter?
Surely there are moves left to be made before Week 1 begins, as it would be ludicrous for three NFL teams to play without a backup quarterback. Just don’t bet on Colin Kaepernick returning, since the NFL is only ready to profit off him when it comes to merchandise.
The real question becomes what would any of these teams do in the unfortunate situation in which they don’t carry a backup on their active roster and their starter gets hurt during a game.
While there may be a high school quarterback hidden among the skill position players, the most likely scenario is something that happened to the Carolina Panthers in 2006.
When starter Jake Delhomme went down, they turned to 34-year-old former Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke, who turned into a glorified hand-off machine. In a Week 16 game against the Atlanta Falcons, they ran the ball on the first 12 plays of the game, stretching their opening drive into the second quarter, and won 10-3 with 52 rushes to just seven pass attempts. They were somehow able to sneak out a win by cutting down the number of possessions and running the ball effectively.
Of course, the most logical solution here would be to just bite the bullet and sign a competent backup, even just for two weeks in the Colts’ case. But one can still dream of a purely running or even triple option offense in the mean time.
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