Ranking five teams that most need to upgrade their backup QBs: Rams, Titans among those that need help
The Rams and Titans are among many contending teams that need a backup quarterback
Having a franchise quarterback is the most important aspect toward having a successful NFL organization, even though one quarterback may not be enough for those Super Bowl dreams. The Philadelphia Eagles proved in consecutive seasons how vital a backup quarterback is toward a playoff run and a team's quest for a championship, shelling a large amount of money to make sure the offense didn't miss a beat if the franchise quarterback suffers an injury.
Finding the right backup quarterback is a calculated gamble, whether it involves spending a large sum of money (and cap space) for a quarterback who may never start a game or if that team has already paid premium dollars to the franchise quarterback and doesn't want to use that limited cap space on an insurance policy.
Investing in a backup quarterback is like a warranty on a television: The device may not break in the year(s) you have it, but you're covered in case it does. Some teams decide to forego that warranty, taking their chances the franchise quarterback does not get hurt and they don't have to replace him for a significant amount of time.
As the backup quarterback market starts to dwindle, these are the teams that decided they are good with what they have on the roster (even though Cam Newton is there for the taking). Here are five teams that desperately need a backup quarterback, as their championship dreams hang in the balance.
5. Seattle Seahawks
Current backup QB: Geno Smith
Seattle is in the same boat as the Minnesota Vikings (mentioned later on this list) when it comes to the backup quarterback. Russell Wilson has never missed a start since becoming the starting quarterback for the Seahawks in 2012, a combined 143 games between the regular season and postseason. Anthony Gordon was the best Seattle could do before reports the team .
The Seahawks signed Gordon as an undrafted free agent earlier this month before the Smith signing. Gordon was the only quarterback on the roster not named Russell Wilson. The Seahawks at least have an experienced backup in Smith, who has thrown for 6,182 yards, 29 touchdowns and 36 interceptions in seven seasons (12-19 record in 31 starts).
Wilson isn't exactly a pocket quarterback and has done a masterful job at avoiding injury despite using his legs to extend the play and gain positive yards for his team. If Wilson goes down, so do Seattle's Super Bowl chances.
Even with Smith in the fold, the Seahawks still could use an upgrade at No. 2 quarterback. The Seahawks have over $16 million in available cap space and should invest more in that position. As CBS Sports colleague Sean Wagner-McGough points out, Seattle would be the team.
Current backup QB: Sean Mannion
The Vikings haven't needed to make backup quarterback a priority, thanks to Kirk Cousins never missing a game due to injury since becoming a full-time starter for the Washington Redskins in 2015. Cousins started 79 consecutive games for the Redskins and Vikings before Minnesota sat him in Week 17 of last season after the Vikings clinched their playoff seed and played a meaningless final regular season game.
Mannion started that Week 17 game against the Chicago Bears, and it didn't go so well. He finished 12 of 21 for 126 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions in a loss. While the loss is unimportant, are the Vikings really going to turn to a quarterback who has thrown just 74 passes in his five seasons -- never tossing a touchdown pass?
If Cousins were to go down with an injury and miss multiple games, the Vikings are in real trouble. Mannion's No. 2 job may be challenged as Minnesota selected Nate Stanley in the seventh round of the draft, but the limited offseason will hinder Stanley's chances at filling in for Cousins -- who the Vikings committed $97 million over the next three years.
The Vikings have slightly over $12 million in cap space (per Over the Cap), enough money for a one-year investment and an upgrade at backup quarterback.
Current backup QB: Brett Hundley
Before we get into Hundley, Arizona's offense revolves around Kyler Murray -- the ideal quarterback for Kliff Kingsbury and his air-raid attack. If Murray would go down with an injury, the Cardinals playoff chances take a massive hit despite their electric offense (which now includes DeAndre Hopkins).
Hundley at least has some experience as a starting quarterback, starting nine games for the Green Bay Backers in 2017 and throwing for 1,836 yards with nine touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Hundley has bounced around the league since, spending the 2018 season with the Seahawks before signing with the Cardinals in 2019.
Hundley did see time for Arizona when Murray went down in Week 16 with a hamstring injury, going 4 for 9 for 49 yards and rushing six times for 35 yards as he managed the second half and preserved the Cardinals' lead in an upset over the Seahawks.
While Hundley manages the game and can play in Kingsbury's system, the Cardinals could improve here. The problem is Arizona only has around $9 million in available cap space. Hundley will be good enough for 2020 in Arizona, whose fate all depends on Murray's health anyway.
Current backup QB: Logan Woodside
The Titans arguably had the top backup quarterback option in the NFL last season with Ryan Tannehill, followed by Marcus Mariota once Tannehill emerged as the starter and proceeded to win Comeback Player of the Year honors.
With Tannehill as the starting quarterback (and an $118 million deal to boot), the Titans decided to roll with 2018 seventh-round pick Logan Woodside as their backup. Woodside has never attempted a regular season pass in the NFL even though he has been with the Titans practice squad the past two seasons. Tennessee signed Woodside to a reserve/futures deal in January, but did nothing to provide insurance behind Tannehill. They also drafted Cole McDonald in the seventh round of this year's draft to challenge Woodside for the job.
Woodside does have experience as a starter in the professional ranks, throwing for 1,385 yards and seven touchdowns to eight interceptions with the San Antonio Commandeers of the Alliance of American Football, but the Titans have to have a better option than this.
Tennessee is a team with Super Bowl aspirations with a quarterback that has been inconsistent throughout his career. Are the Titans really going to bank on a quarterback that missed eight games with knee and shoulder injuries in his last two seasons with the Miami Dolphins (2017 and 2018) before his incredible 11-game run with Tennessee last season?
Tennessee has over $20 million in cap space. They need to add a capable backup quarterback as soon as possible.
Current backup QB: John Wolford
How does a quarterback guru and offensive mastermind like Sean McVay go into a season with Jared Goff as the only reliable starting quarterback on his roster? This is why the Rams are No. 1 on this list.
The Rams' option if Goff were to be sidelined with an injury is Wolford and it's not if they have the cap space to actually improve at the position. Los Angeles has under $1 million in cap space to work with, so the Rams can't improve the backup quarterback situation if they wanted. Wolford is the choice here, even though Los Angeles has to upgrade at quarterback as an insurance policy.
The 24-year-old Wolford has never attempted a regular season pass in the NFL, even though he was successful with the Arizona Hotshots in the AAF -- throwing for 1,617 yards and 14 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. He's only spent one season on the Rams' practice squad and is on a reserve/futures deal. Los Angeles signed two undrafted free agents this month (Bryce Perkins and Josh Love), making Wolford the clear cut No. 2 option at the moment.
Goff has played all 16 games the best two seasons, but the Rams better hope he's consistent this year. They'll finish last in the NFC West if Goff struggles again or gets injured. They're desperate for help and can't get it, which is pretty hard to do.
Bravo Les Snead.
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