Perhaps a steak dinner is in order. Hey Alex, do you like Kelsey’s? Backup QB eating is what it is, man.
No one could have imagined that Alex Smith would fetch two draft picks from the Chiefs, and especially not likely two second-round picks. But here we are today still processing that information, and realizing the realities of a thin quarterback market.
A year ago there was no expectation that the price of quarterbacks would inflate quickly on the trade market, because there was plenty of available high-end options waiting in April. Teams drafting at the top half of the first round had Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and Ryan Tannehill, and then further down there was Brandon Weeden, Russell Wilson, and Nick Foles.
This year, the confidence isn’t nearly as high in Geno Smith and Matt Barkley, unless your name is Lane Kiffin. Sure, they’ll go in the first round, or at least Smith will (maybe, probably…who the hell really knows), but there’s no RG3 franchise changer here.
That’s why the Chiefs overpaid for Smith, because waiting for a franchise QB can be an eternal game. And it’s why teams like the Cardinals and Bills may be legitimately contemplating paying way too much for Ryan Mallett or Matt Flynn.
The likely inflated price of the young, backup quarterback especially applies to Mallett. Backup QBs are important, but cashing in on value while it’s there remains paramount, and the longer Mallett sits and rots, the quicker the perception of him as, say, a Matt Schaub type (Schaub was a backup in Atlanta before he moved on to be pretty OK in Houston) declines. Then when we also toss in the fact that Tom Brady is a Patriot for life with his new staint-like contract extension that’s really a dirty money grab, the motivation to move Mallett should increase further.
Not so, says Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald.
Howe’s sources tell him that Billy Belichick — the captain of the good ship Patriot — isn’t actively looking to shop Mallett yet. Two years ago before Brady’s future was solidified, the Patriots spent a third-round pick on Mallett. So what would be the cost to acquire him now? To arrive at that, Howe says we can look to history.
The Falcons traded Matt Schaub to the Texans in 2007 for two second-round picks and a swap of first-rounders. The Patriots traded Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel to the Chiefs in 2009 for a second-rounder. The Eagles sent Kevin Kolb to the Cardinals in 2011 for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round pick.
Essentially, the baseline for a Mallett deal would be a second-rounder, which the Patriots would obviously covet to improve their initial investment on the quarterback in 2011. The market dictates he might just be worth it.
The flaw in Howe’s history is that to varying degrees, all of the quarterbacks mentioned had brief starting experience before they went from backups to starters through a trade. Cassel logged the most time during his season as Brady’s replacement when he nearly led the Patriots to the playoffs. Schaub started twice in Atlanta while attempting 161 passes over three seasons as the Falcons often tried to be creative in dual-quarterback schemes. Lastly, Kolb started seven games in Philadelphia, and attempted 194 regular-season passes.
But earlier this week Greg Bedard echoed Howe’s report. Tell us how painful Mallett’s price will be, Greg.
Patriots want more than a third for Mallett. They put two years in developing him. At least a second. They’d be fine keeping him
— Greg A. Bedard (@GregABedard) February 25, 2013
Fair enough, but also, whatever. The Seahawks have put one year into Flynn, and if Mallett can fetch a second rounder, at minimum Wilson’s backup equals that since his brief game experience in Green Bay has led to awestruck salivating.
So thanks to Smith and a typically weak QB market once free agency starts (Matt Moore, anyone?), we’re looking at potentially more overpaying and drastic missing at the most important offensive position. In the process, teams that misstep every offseason may continue to do so, while the NFL’s richest one percent will accumulate more avenues to build their towering juggernaut through draft picks.