Week 1 of the 2018 season, Packer fans around the world cried, cursed, and gave up on the season, when Aaron Rodgers went down with what looked like a serious knee injury. DeShone Kizer, who they acquired in a trade last offseason, and played like you’d expect a backup to play against a Khalil Mack led defense. He was threw an interception and was strip sacked all before the half had ended. This isn’t the only misfortune the Packers had with backup quarterbacks. When Aaron Rodgers first broke his collarbone in 2013, the Packers had Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien, and Matt Flynn, all take snaps for them that year. Most recently in 2017, again Rodgers out with a broken collarbone, the Packers had Brett Hundley who went 2-3 beating the winless Browns and struggling Buccaneers. The Packers have lacked a consistent backup since Matt Flynn left in 2012. Here are some options for them this coming season.
Trade for a backup:
The Packers could follow the 2018 Saints and look for a backup on other teams’ rosters. There are not many teams that have quarterbacks on their roster who would be an instant improvement over Kizer. If the Packers are looking for players with experience, three possible quarterbacks could be Brian Hoyer, Landry Jones, and Matt Schaub. All of these players would bring experience to the backup position, and allow the team to be confident that their backup can run an NFL offense. Landry Jones has played behind Ben Roethlisberger and is 3-2 in games he started. Hoyer and Schaub both bring a veteran savy to the team that the backup position has not had in years, and both have once been starters for the Browns and Texans respectively. The most realistic out of the group would be Landry Jones who is now on the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders already have their starter in Derek Carr and have a veteran backup in Mike Glennon. He is the most likely to be available as the offseason continues.
Wait for Released Players:
Every year there are players who get released that can immediately improve other teams. The Packers could wait to see if any teams release a quarterback that they can sign to improve their quarterback depth. Right now there aren’t many quarterbacks still available especially with Colt McCoy coming off of a season ending injury, so the Packers most likely will have to wait to see if any quarterbacks make their way to the free agent market after teams finalize their 53 man roster. One player that I would keep my eyes on is Case Keenum. He was traded to the Redskins this offseason, and most of the dead money has fallen onto the Broncos. With the Redskins drafted Dwayne Haskins, I could see the Redskins releasing Case Keenum and allowing Alex Smith to backup and mentor Haskins assuming he is healthy. Case Keenum is already familiar with the NFC North from his time with the Vikings and could be a great fit to backup Rodgers. Another possibility is the 49ers releasing either Nick Mullens or CJ Beathard who both had their chances to replace Garappolo last season. They both have shown flashes of skill, but I don’t think they would be an improvement over Kizer like Keenum would be.
Let current roster battle it out:
The Packers still have DeShone Kizer on their roster, but many fans are hoping for a change this offseason. Before, we get our pitchforks and torches to drive him out of town, let’s take a step back and look at the situations he started in.
The first NFL start of his career came with the eventual 0-16 Cleveland Browns. Kizer came in as a second round pick and was thrown into the worst situation in football. He had minimal weapons around him, a head coach who is more interested in headlines than wins, and a losing culture. Kizer did what he could for the team and finished with 11 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. He performed how you would expect a young player coming into that situation to perform–terribly. Another huge problem with the Browns in 2017, one of the many, was inconsistently at the receiver position. Kizer did not have a single starting receiver start every game that season. The one receiver who appeared in all 16 games for Kizer was Ricardo Luis who led the team with 61 targets.
Taking another look at the three games he appeared in for the Packers last year, he shouldn’t be given all of the blame. The second year quarterback was thrown against one of the top defenses last season in the Chicago Bears, who were also shutting down Aaron Rodgers before his miracle comeback. He was also part of a system that Aaron Rodgers struggled in the rest of the year, and was out-dated to say the least. Kizer could benefit from a new offense with Matt LaFleur.
I do not think Kizer is a starter in the NFL, but I do think under the right system he could have a career as a backup. Also, he may be the best choice for a league that does not have many options still available at backup quarterback. Letting Kizer battle it out against Tim Boyle and new undrafted free agent Manny Wilkins. The Packers don’t have many options at backup quarterback, and unless someone gets cut that they like, running it back with their current players is most likely the best option.