VERO BEACH, FLORIDA – Just as one can never be too rich or too thin, if you are an NFL ball club, you can never have enough quality at the quarterback position.
As summer camps opened this week, this principle has never been more in evidence.
A whole host of teams spent the offseason trying to improve their QB situation even those seemingly set at that critical spot.
Like New England, with 38-year-old Tom Brady, who plans on playing ’til he’s 50 thanks to his mysterious mix of an anti-inflammatory diet and yoga.
Some clubs went out and got a new No. 1 guy.
Quite a few outfits showed a distinct lack of confidence in their present field general by adding someone who might well steal the incumbent’s starting job.
Others didn’t feel comfortable enough with their backup should the starter suffer an injury, an all-too-common occurrence nowadays, and took steps to correct that situation.
Today MAS looks at each team’s QB maneuvering by category.
First, those which are breaking in a NEW No. 1.
■ Houston — Taking a HUGE chance in giving big bucks to rather pedestrian Denver free agent Brock Ostweiler, whom the Broncos seemed reluctant to re-sign.
■ Los Angeles — Traded away a host of future draft choices for this year’s overall top pick: QB Jared Goff of Cal, who’s already getting the “small hands, can’t throw a wet ball” rap.
■ Cleveland — Hoping something old (concussion-prone vet Josh McCown), something new (third round draftee Cody Kessler, USC) or something borrowed (ex-Redskin Robert Griffin III) will drive away their QB blues.
■ Denver — Acquired Philly’s Mark Sanchez, respectable except for the occasional What-was-he-thinking? pass. Maybe team prez John Elway can break Sanchez of that habit.
If Elway can’t, Broncos’ No. 1 pick Paxton Lynch (Memphis) waits in the wings.
Next, outfits that have added someone to challenge last year’s starting signal caller, or at least light a fire under him.
■ New York Jets — Drafting Christian Hackenberg (Penn St.) and dragging their heels in re-signing Ryan Fitzpatrick tells MAS Jets see Fitz as a mere journeyman who caught lightning in a bottle last season.
■ Philadelphia — Reinstated Eagles GM Howie Roseman wants to eventually cut ties with Sam Bradford, departed coach/personnel head Chip Kelly’s QB choice, and work in his own man, No. 2 overall pick Carson Wentz.
■ Buffalo — Yes, nifty and nimble Tyrod Taylor was productive last year but Bills’ still not sure he’s their kinda guy. So, they drafted “Cardale the Cannon” Jones, a pure dropback passer and star of Ohio State’s 2014 national title run.
■ Miami — New head coach Adam Gase has earned a rep as a QB whisperer (see Jay Cutler in Chicago). If similar sweet nuthin’s don’t bring marked improvement in Ryan Tannehill, MAS sees draftee Brandon Doughty (over 5,000 passing yards at Western Kentucky last season) taking over when the rook’s ready.
■ Chicago — Cutler has cut down on his aloofness as well as INTS (from 18 in 2014 to 11 last season). But in case his seeming indifference and penchant for bone-headed aerials reappear, Bears added ex-Brown and Texan Brian Hoyer, more mature but a game manager at best.
■ Oakland — If the Raiders were sold on Derek Carr, why would they draft Michigan State’s Connor Cook at No. 4? Sniff . . . sniff . . . MAS smells a Griffin III-Kirk Cousins DC situation brewing here.
■ Detroit — Matthew Stafford’s job is secure but another up-and-down season could force Lions to think of home-state U. of Michigan draftee Jake Rudock as more than Detroit’s new backup.
■ Washington — Took a “do it twice and I’m a believer” attitude toward Cousins after his breakout season in ’14. Signed him to only a one-year deal. And then drafted Indiana record holder Nate Sudfeld should Cousins not be able to replicate.
■ Atlanta Matt Ryan’s starter status is not in jeopardy . . . yet. But if he wobbles further, re-signed vet Matt Schaub, who did well as Ryan’s predecessor with the Falcons before flopping with Houston as a free agent.
■ Kansas City — To goose incumbent Alex Smith, Chiefs drafted Kevin Hogan (ex-Stanford), like Smith, heady and steady and maybe a better passer.
Finally, those ball clubs which attempted a backup upgrade or tried to add a QB of the future.
■ Seattle — Wisely added a Russell Wilson doppelganger by signing TCU’s electric Trevone Boykin, Wilson’s spitting image size- and skill set-wise and a likely high-draftee were it not for a pre-bowl game arrest.
■ San Francisco — Colin Kaepernick may be too expensive to keep and Blaine Gabbert is probably not the answer. So, Niners drafted prolific passer Jeff Driskel, out of Louisiana Tech, hoping some good ol’ boy Terry Bradshaw magic rubbed off on him while he was down yonder.
■ New England — Drafting rangy and athletic Jacoby Brissett of North Carolina State tells MAS a) either the Pats found a more promising Brady successor than Jimmy Garoppolo or b) they’ll need a talented backup while Mr. Bundchen serves his Deflategate suspension.
■ Dallas — Big D is backup burial ground but in Dak Prescott, out of Mississippi State, MAS predicts the Cowboys have found a guy to take over permanently following Tony Romo’s next and LAST broken collarbone.
■ San Diego — Signed free agent Zack Mettenberger, former LSU star and Titans backup, as both their QB of the future and Philip Rivers injury insurance policy.
■ Jacksonville — Ex-No. 1 Jags pick Blake Bortles was much improved in his second season. But in case he backslides, Jax drafted gritty ex-Arkansas star Brandon Allen.
■ Tennessee — Backup warhorse (12 years) Matt Cassel may get a chance to show Dallas’ post-Romo injury collapse wasn’t his fault. Starter Marcus Mariota was NFL’s most harried passer in ’15 and twice-injured.
■ Indianapolis — Lesson learned last season: Andrew Luck’s injury replacement, creaky 41-year old Matt Hasselbeck (MAS: Oh, to be 41 and creaky again . . .), started strong but then crashed and burned, taking the Colts down with him. Colts signed much-younger Scott Tolzien, former Aaron Rodgers caddy in Green Bay.
■ Arizona — Undrafted Jake Coker, of national champ Bama, might be Cardinals’ coach and QB guru Bruce Arians’ signal caller of the future with Carson Palmer now 36 and coming off a dismal postseason in ’15.
■ Minnesota — Joel Stave plucked out of Wisconsin should Teddy Bridgewater get hurt while suffering sacks aplenty (third most in NFL last season).
■ Baltimore — Added vet Josh Johnson should Joe Flacco’s injured knee not be completely healed.
A smaller number of teams appear satisfied with their status QB quo and made no changes.
But should they be content?
Youngsters Garrett Grayson and Ryan Nassib have yet to see the field much in backing up New Orleans’ Ol’ Man River Drew Brees (he just keeps rollin’ along) and the New York Giants’ Eli (183 straight games and counting) Manning, respectively.
Is hot and cold Landry Jones to be trusted when, NOT if, Pittsburgh’s “Brittle Ben” Roethlisberger goes down with his two or three yearly injuries?
Other clubs eschewing QB additions that perhaps shouldn’t have eschewed (gesundheit!) include Carolina (no stylistic facsimile behind Cam Newton), Cincinnati (AJ McCarron was fine replacing Andy Dalton until whiffing in the playoffs) and Tampa Bay (backup Mike Glennon’s play as Bucs’ previous starter prompted drafting of Jameis Winston).
When one invests money in the stock market or goes on a diet, results vary.
Same with the best-intentioned quarterback moves of NFL teams.
Contact Man About Sports at: firstname.lastname@example.org