Blaine Gabbert, QB, Arizona Cardinals
It’s a funny world we live in, isn’t it? It feels like it was just yesterday that the debate was between Jake Locker, Christian Ponder, and Blaine Gabbert for the second-best quarterback in the 2011 NFL Draft after Cam Newton. Which of these quarterbacks is the best to pick up where Vince Young left off and help the Titans take that next step? Turns out fans had to wait until the 2015 NFL Draft to get that question answered.
Locker retired after his rookie deal expired and Ponder never amounted to much and is currently out of the league as well, but Gabbert has been able to hang around the league as a serviceable signal caller.
Now, by no means am I saying Gabbert is the same level of quarterback as Marcus Mariota, but they do have somewhat similar skill sets. Gabbert has flashes of deadly accuracy and has some mobility to his game, even if he isn’t half the athlete Mariota is. But if this brand new offense is going to be built around Mariota’s abilities as a passer, why not get a backup who can fit in that same scheme to some degree?
In years past, the team has elected to go with Matt Cassel, whose skill set couldn’t be any farther off from Mariota’s, as the primary backup. Whenever Mariota went down with an injury, the entire playbook and mindset of the offense had to flip. That isn’t the healthiest situation for a team and can easily disrupt the chemistry and flow of any offense.
Gabbert is coming off of a quick stint in Arizona where he was able to step in and play adequately. In five pinch starts, he was able to go 2-3 (with wins against the Titans and Jaguars) while throwing for just over 1,000 yards and six touchdowns. Considering how the Arizona offense as a whole struggled throughout the season, those aren’t terrible numbers by any stretch.
The backup quarterback positions needs to be addressed this off-season. It’s no secret that Mariota has yet to play all 16 games in the regular season. Given the possibility that that can happen again in the future, the team needs someone who can step in and keep the offense churning while Mariota heals. The team can do a lot worse than someone who led a below-average squad to back-to-back wins over playoff teams. Gabbert would likely come on a very team-friendly cap number as well.
Potential Contract: 2 Years, $2.5 Million