Colin Kaepernick: 10 Backups who QB could replace

Dec 4, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) looks on during the second half of the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

With the Seattle Seahawks officially passing on Colin Kaepernick, here are 10 backup jobs the quarterback deserves to have on other teams.

Controversy from last season aside, it’s unbelievable to see former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick currently without a new team at this point in the offseason, especially as a backup. From a talent perspective, there’s no question Kaepernick could be a starter on numerous teams at the moment, but it’s the fact that no team is willing to even give the quarterback a shot as a backup is what’s frustrating the most.

Over the last few days, there was plenty of speculation surrounding the possibility of Kaepernick joining the Seattle Seahawks, but with the recent signing of Austin Davis, that scenario immediately went out the window. While there have been numerous rumors surrounding why Kaepernick to the Seahawks fell through ranging from he was asking for too much money to they didn’t want to worry about him competing for the starting role, the point is he would have been a much better option than the inexperienced Davis.

Which brings us to the next debate, which is why are there so many teams willing to settle for their current backup quarterbacks instead of bringing on a talented quarterback like Kaepernick? From Bryce Petty with the New York Jets to Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, let’s take a look at 10 backup quarterbacks who deserve to lose their job to the former Niners quarterback.

December 11, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty (9) during the third quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium. The Jets defeated the 49ers 23-17 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

10. Bryce Petty, New York Jets

The tough thing about the situation with Bryce Petty is the New York Jets believe he could eventually become the quarterback the team hopes to build the franchise around, but at least for the 2016 season, it looks like he’s going to be the backup to Josh McCown. It’s amazing to see how fast the Jets went from contenders on the rise in the AFC following a strong outing in 2015 to only winning five games all of last year, and sadly it looks like they could be in for another tough season.

Early on in the offseason, New York seemed like a potential landing spot for Colin Kaepernick when considering all of the issues the team was having at quarterback after Ryan Fitzpatrick turned out to be a disaster in 2016. But on a positive note, at least the Jets were smart enough to avoid giving Fitzpatrick the long-term deal he spent most of last offseason fighting for so they wouldn’t be forced to keep him around for the long run.

While it’s easy to understand why New York would prefer to keep Petty in his current position to help him gain the necessary experience to hopefully one day become the starter, it’s tough to move past the fact that Kaepernick arguably would have been an upgrade as a backup. Then again, if Petty does work his way into the starting role once training camp rolls around, the move to pass on Kaepernick would make a little more sense when it comes to the former Baylor star gaining experience.

Jan 7, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Connor Cook (8) in action against the Houston Texans during the AFC Wild Card playoff football game at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

9. Connor Cook, Oakland Raiders

After years of frustration, the Oakland Raiders finally put an end to their playoff drought by earning one of the Wild Card spots in the AFC, although the argument can be made they would have won their division if it wasn’t for Derek Carr‘s leg injury. Speaking of Carr, it’s tough not to wonder what could have been for the Raiders if he would have been healthy enough to suit up against the Houston Texans in the playoffs instead of having to settle with Connor Cook.

In Cook’s defense, it’s never easy for a player to make their first career NFL start in the postseason, but the Raiders had no other choice after Matt McGloin suffered a shoulder injury during the team’s regular-season finale. Unfortunately for Oakland, Cook’s performance was exactly what a team would expect from a rookie making their debut after only completing 18 of 45 passes for 161 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.

With McGloin (Philadelphia Eagles) officially out of the picture, Cook enters the 2017 season as the official backup to Carr, but based off his limited action as a rookie, it’s safe to say he still has a long way to go from a development standpoint. When comparing Cook’s skills to what Colin Kaepernick would bring to the table, one would think it was a no brainer for a team like the Raiders, especially with Carr coming off a serious leg injury.

Aug 1, 2016; Irvine, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Kellen Moore (17) throws a pass as quarterback Tomy Romo (9) watches at training camp at the River Ridge Fields. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

8. Kellen Moore, Dallas Cowboys

Isn’t it amazing how much can change in a single year? Around this time last year, Tony Romo was still the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, and Dak Prescott was just a rookie Jerry Jones decided to take a chance on in the 2016 NFL Draft. As everyone knows, Romo would go down with a devastating injury in the preseason while Prescott would step in, and lead the Cowboys to the best record in the NFC at 13-1.

With Romo officially enjoying retirement, Prescott will lead the way for Dallas moving forward, as the team looks to build off last year’s surprise success, and be one of the top teams in the NFC once again. If Prescott’s rookie campaign is any indication of what the future holds, the Cowboys are going to be in good hands for years to come, especially with the youngster having two of the best teammates to work with on offense in Ezekiel Elliott and Dez Bryant.

Now that Prescott is no longer considered a backup, the role will go to Kellen Moore, who has only appeared in three games since coming to the league in 2012. But based off how he’s looked in limited action, it’s tough to imagine the shape Dallas would be in if they were ever forced to use Moore under center.

Jan 1, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Cardale Jones (7) is sacked by New York Jets defensive tackle Deon Simon (93) during the 4th quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

7. Cardale Jones, Buffalo Bills

Give the Buffalo Bills credit for convincing Tyrod Taylor to restructure his contract this offseason since it would have put the team in a tough position since there was a chance they would have ended up releasing the quarterback to save a little money. Otherwise, there’s a good chance the Bills would have taken a harder look at some of the quarterbacks available in free agency, such as someone like Colin Kaepernick.

For now, how far Buffalo will go in 2017 will fall on the shoulders of Taylor at quarterback after he’s shown signs of greatness at times over the last two years, although he still has a ton to prove. Mobile quarterbacks like Taylor always seem to be at a higher risk since they tend to be on the run more often, and heading into the upcoming season, Cardale Jones would be next in line if something were to happen.

What Jones accomplished a few years ago in college by helping Ohio State land a championship was simply phenomenal, but the NFL is a completely different ball game. If teams felt more confident in Jones’ ability to be successful at the NFL level, he would have been selected prior to the fourth round back in 2016.

Green Bay Packers Brett Hundley

Dec 11, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Hundley (7) celebrates following a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field. Green Bay won 38-10. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

6. Brett Hundley, Green Bay Packers

Not only are the Green Bay Packers fortunate to have one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game in Aaron Rodgers, but they also have a player who has only missed nine games since taking over the starting role in 2008. Last year was the perfect example of how much of a difference having Rodgers under center can be when considering the fact that without him, there’s no way the Packers would have been able to reach the NFC Championship despite sitting at 4-6 at one point in the regular season.

Once again, Green Bay will be considered one of the top teams in the NFC, as there’s a good chance they will be playing with an extra chip on their shoulder after falling short of reaching the Super Bowl a few months ago. And assuming all goes well for the Packers next year, there’s a good chance Rodgers will find himself in consideration for the MVP award once again.

Nothing against Brett Hundley, but when seeing how amazing of a job Green Bay has done with loading up the offense with weapons like Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Davante Adams, it would still be nerve wracking to watch him running the Packers offense. Rodgers may not have missed any time over the last three seasons, but Green Bay would have been better off with a more reliable backup instead of Hundley just in case something were to happen.

Nov 24, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Scott Tolzien (16) against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Steelers won 28-7. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

5. Scott Tolzien, Indianapolis Colts

After seeing all of the money invested in Andrew Luck, there’s no chance a player like Colin Kaepernick would have any chance of winning the starting job for the Indianapolis Colts, even if the team is desperate to improve after missing out on the playoffs each of the last two years. But with Luck’s status for the season open against the Los Angeles Rams in question due to shoulder surgery, the team may have no other choice than to go with Scott Tolzien as their starter in Week 1.

Tolzien came to Indianapolis last year after serving as a backup to Aaron Rodgers for a few years as a member of the Green Bay Packers, but once again it’s tough to tell the level of impact he would have as a starter due to his lack of experience. Sure, the presence of a dangerous wideout like T.Y. Hilton would certainly take some of the pressure off Tolzien, but the Colts aren’t in a position where they can afford to go through another disappointing season.

If Indianapolis falls short of the postseason for the third year in a row, there’s a good chance plenty of changes will be made to the coaching staff since Chuck Pagano has already been on a short least for a few years now. And if Luck isn’t healthy enough to suit up for that first game of the season against the Rams, the Colts could be in trouble when it comes to having an unproven quarterback under center in Tolzien.

Aug 18, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Jake Rudock (14) runs with the ball during the fourth quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Ford Field. Bengals win 30-14. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

4. Jake Rudock, Detroit Lions

Jake Rudock will be entering his second season with the Detroit Lions after the team used a sixth-round pick on the former Michigan quarterback in 2016. And thanks to Matthew Stafford being one of the toughest players in the league, Rudock failed to take a single snap under center during his rookie season, which was completely fine for the Lions since they went on to earn one of the Wild Card spots in the NFC.

Early in his career, it would be a lie if Detroit didn’t admit there was some concern over Stafford’s health after only appearing in 13 games over his first two seasons. But since then, Stafford has been one of the most reliable quarterbacks in the NFL by starting every game dating back to the 2011 season.

Despite Stafford’s impressive streak along with his ability to play through injuries, it should also be noted he always seems to rank near the top of the league when it comes to hits taken by quarterbacks. Basically, Stafford has always been the type of player who makes fans hold their breath each time he takes a hit, and it would be a shame to see a team like the Lions struggle to be contenders if they were forced to use Rudock due to an injury towards their beloved quarterback.

Dec 24, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne (7) throws a pass during warmups before an NFL Football game against the Tennessee Titans at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

3. Chad Henne, Jacksonville Jaguars

Before anyone freaks out, the answer is yes, Chad Henne is still apparently in the league after all of these years, as the veteran quarterback currently serves as a backup to Blake Bortles with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Believe it or not, Henne will only be 32 at the start of the 2017 season, and what makes this situation even more interesting is depending on what happens with Bortles, the former Michigan star could end up receiving some unexpected playing time.

When it comes to players facing the most pressure heading into next year, Bortles ranks near the top of that list after taking a major step back in 2016 following a strong outing the year before in which he completed 35 touchdown passes. Chances are if Bortles continues to struggle in 2017 despite everything Jacksonville has done to make life easier on offense, he’s going to be looking for a new home next offseason.

With all of the uncertainty surrounding Bortles, Jacksonville bringing on another quarterback like Colin Kaepernick seemed like a good option a few months back, and still does to this day when considering the team is setting him up for success with the current weapons on offense. Obviously, the Jaguars would love nothing more than to see Bortles finally live up to expectations by breaking out this year, but the team also needs to prepare for a backup plan just in case.

Jan 1, 2017; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Kellen Clemens (10) throws a ball before the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Qualcomm Stadium. The Chiefs won 37-27. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

2. Kellen Clemens, Los Angeles Chargers

What’s the most amazing thing about Philip Rivers during his career with the Los Angeles Chargers? Without question, it’s the fact that Rivers has started every game for the Chargers since taking over the role back in 2006, and just like Tom Brady, he doesn’t seem ready to call it a career anytime soon.

Rivers may be 36 by the time next season comes to an end, but when seeing the direction Los Angeles seems to be heading on offense with young weapons like Melvin Gordon and Mike Williams, the veteran quarterback would love to help with the process over the next few years. Of course, with an aging quarterback comes the risk of becoming more fragile, and if Rivers were to suffer any sort of injury that would prevent him from playing, the Chargers would have to go with Kellen Clemens as his replacement at he moment.

Clemens may have been a second-round pick back in 2006 by the New York Jets, but it’s easy to see that he’s never been able to live up to the potential when considering he’s only thrown 16 touchdown passes in his career. Keep in mind, Colin Kaepernick was able to match that touchdown mark during the 2016 season alone with the San Francisco 49ers while working with a very weak receiving corps.

Jan 1, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) walks off the field after the game against Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

1. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

To see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers settle for a backup quarterback like Ryan Fitzpatrick when considering the other options they had to work with, makes it seem obvious that most NFL teams are flat-out ignoring Colin Kaepernick to avoid dealing with any drama related to last year. Otherwise, the Buccaneers selecting Kaepernick to play behind Jameis Winston would be an easy choice when seeing how the two veterans compare.

Fitzpatrick did everything in his power to earn a long-term deal last offseason after nearly leading the New York Jets to a playoff appearance the year before, but his numbers from 2016 made it clear he’s nowhere close to being worthy of that kind of money. So to watch Tampa Bay settle for Fitzpatrick when Kaepernick was still available seems like one of the most foolish moves from the offseason, which is crazy when looking at all of the other success surrounding the Buccaneers.

Expectations are higher than ever for Tampa Bay after acquiring one of the most dangerous deep threats the NFL has to offer in DeSean Jackson to play alongside Mike Evans, and hopefully the team won’t have to ever worry about Fitzpatrick taking snaps in the regular season. As long as Winston stays healthy, the Buccaneers will be a team to keep an eye on in the NFC when it comes to making the jump to serious contenders.

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