As Tom Brady continues to age like a fine wine, there are a handful of big-name quarterbacks whose careers have aged more like dairy. And for a couple, dairy that has been left out of the refrigerator.
Brock Osweiler, Colin Kaepernick, Vince Young, Robert Griffin III, and Johnny Manziel were all highly-regarded at some point in their respective careers, and all experienced some level of success in the NFL. But none could maintain that success, for varying reasons.
Should we be adding their names to the list of early NFL castoffs, a list that already includes names like Ken Dorsey and Danny Wuerffel? Or is there any chance they’re the football version of a French Bordeaux, needing years to mature before reaching their true potential? After all, it took legendary quarterbacks Kurt Warner and Steve Young a few kicks at the pot before proving to be late-bloomers.
Thanks to a whole lot of guaranteed money on his contract, Brock Osweiler is still the $72 million man — for one more year. But now he’s the $72 million man whom Houston packaged with a second-round pick just to have off their roster. While such a slap in the face would likely discourage some, Osweiler’s psyche was clearly unaffected.
Early in OTAs, Osweiler was asked whether he was good enough to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. His response went like this …
QB Brock Osweiler asked about Houston situation & then if he can be a starting QB in this league. You'll want to watch this exchange pic.twitter.com/VP9jaMoXtj
— Daryl Ruiter (@RuiterWrongFAN) May 24, 2017
… which, of course, brought on this kind of reaction from the world:
When Brock Osweiler says the proof is in the film that he should be a starting QB in the NFL … pic.twitter.com/PCztCKce7a
— Sports Betting Dime (@BettingDime) May 24, 2017
Osweiler may not be a very good quarterback, but you’ve gotta give him credit for that Deion Sanders-like confidence, in spite of accomplishing next-to-nothing in this league.
The new Cleveland Brown is currently in a battle with Cody Kessler, who started eight games last year, and first-round pick DeShone Kizer. Entering the draft, it was widely believed that Kizer would need some time to grow into an NFL pivot. That sentiment remains true after OTAs and minicamp.
That leaves Osweiler and Kessler for Hue Jackson to choose from. Surprisingly, Jackson has had very positive things to say about Osweiler, who was often criticized for displaying a poor attitude in Denver and Houston. But maturing a little when staring down your last chance in the league isn’t enough to win a starting job in the NFL.
Considering what he was working with last year, Kessler showed quite well. The rookie protected the ball (two INTs) and showed a lot of poise when under pressure, which was often. Osweiler, on the other hand, threw 16 interceptions and struggled to make accurate throws under pressure. Ball security will be the main reason Kessler wins the starting job for 2017.
Don’t be surprised if we do see Osweiler for a couple games, though. Kessler struggled to stay on the field last year, albeit with a far inferior offensive line.
Brock Osweiler Props
Over/under total starts for Osweiler in 2017: 2.5
Over/under total interceptions thrown by Osweiler in 2017: 3.5
Odds a story surfaces of Osweiler clashing with a member of Browns’ coaching staff: 5/1
He needs to do a lot of damage control this season to have any chance of salvaging his career.
Odds Osweiler is released or has contract renegotiated after 2017: 1/49
I’m leaning on it being the former. Either way, chances of him receiving his non-guaranteed $18 million in 2018 are very slim.
Odds Osweiler is on an NFL roster September 1, 2018: 3/4
Brock Osweiler at $1 million isn’t that hard to swallow.
Odds Osweiler believes he should be a starting QB even after being released by the Browns: 1/100
After the Seattle Seahawks chose to sign Austin Davis over Kaepernick, options for the former NFC champion are limited. Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll explained that they didn’t bring him in as a backup because Kaep is “a starter in this league.” While that may be the case, it’s awfully suspicious why no team wants a quality insurance plan for their starting pivot. Why opt for a player who is only a year and a half younger and has done very little in the NFL?
Kaepernick has an 88.9 career passer rating, and posted a 90.7 rating last year with very little talent around him in San Francisco. Maybe Kaepernick is still demanding starter money, or maybe he’s being blackballed. That’s a discussion for another time, though.
For now, Kaepernick remains a free agent who may have to wait for an injury to a current starter. There’s no doubt a team like the Jets, or maybe even the Browns could use some competition at QB, but both are trying to figure out what they have in current youngsters on the roster. Kaep seems like a good fit as a backup for someone like the Bills, Titans, and even Panthers, but each team appears content with its current situation.
Then there are the Texans and Jaguars, who both have talented rosters being held back by turnover-prone QBs. Kaep could provide the Texans with an opportunity to compete right now, while they groom Deshaun Watson from the sideline. As for the Jaguars, Kaepernick’s mobility could be a major asset to a team that wants to pound the rock. But again, neither has shown any interest.
In exercising his right to protest and standing up (or kneeling down, I guess) for a cause he believes in, Kaepernick may have ended his career in the NFL. If one of the aforementioned teams suffers an injury at QB, Kaep may get a call. Otherwise, if he wants to continue his professional football career, it may have to be in another league.
Colin Kaepernick Props
Odds Kaepernick is on an NFL roster September 1: 5/2
Odds Kaepernick starts another game in the NFL: 3/1
Odds Kaepernick takes another regular season snap in the NFL: 11/4
Odds Kaepernick plays in another professional football league: 4/1
One quarterback already exploring “another league” is Vince Young. The 34-year-old signed a two-year deal with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League. Not having taken a professional snap since 2011, and sporting some added pounds, it was very unlikely Young was going to win the starting job.
That has now turned into impossible, as Young tore his hamstring earlier this month and is expected to miss 4-6 months. The CFL season runs through early November, so the injury may have ended Young’s year.
Even if Young does return on time, and injury strikes projected starter Kevin Glenn (38 years old) or the team is struggling, it’s far from certain the former Longhorn would be the next man up. As much as Saskatchewan may want to get a look at the man who was once the third-overall pick in the NFL Draft, it may have to wait until next year.
If Young wants to take advantage of this opportunity in the CFL, and have the Roughriders pick up his second-year option, he’ll have to regain the mobility he displayed in his early years in the NFL. That’s my nice way of saying, “hit the treadmill!”
Vince Young Props
Odds Young takes a regular season CFL snap in 2017: 4/1
Odds Young starts a game in 2017: 9/1
Odds Young is a Roughrider in 2018: 3/2
Odds Young wins a Grey Cup as a starting QB: 99/1
Over/under total starts in the CFL for Young: 0.5
Odds Young ever signs another NFL contract: 49/1
Robert Griffin III
Five years ago, Washington traded three first-round picks and a second-rounder to move up and draft Robert Griffin III from Baylor. Now, the 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year isn’t even worthy of a roster spot.
While many point to injuries as the cause for RG3’s fall from stardom, there’s more that goes into it. Griffin wanted to be a drop-back passer and demanded much less read-option in Washington under Mike Shanahan, which is the system that made him a star in 2012 and at Baylor. His refusal to run the ball was what led to Shanahan being fired and Jay Gruden coming in. When Griffin got his wish, he quickly showed the world why Shanahan didn’t want him to be a drop-back passer: he’s not any good at it.
Griffin struggles to anticipate throws and cannot read a defense. His tiny bit of success in Cleveland last season came when Hue Jackson had him running the ball, but his strange inability to slide and protect himself led to a shoulder injury in Week 1.
Now that injuries have deprived him of his burst, no team is sold that he can enjoy that 2012 level of success again, and no team wants to install an offense tailored specifically to its backup QB. The market for RG3 is similar to Colin Kaepernick’s, but the latter has actually proven he can succeed on a five-step drop.
Odds Griffin is on an NFL roster September 1: 4/1
Odds Griffin takes another NFL snap: 5/1
Odds Griffin starts another game in the NFL: 7/1
Odds Griffin plays in another professional football league: 4/1
The expression “15 minutes of fame” can certainly be applied to all the aforementioned quarterbacks covered in this article, but it’s most apt in the case of Johnny Manziel. Outside of a couple games, the former 22nd-overall pick has made it real easy for us to forget about his glory days at Texas A&M.
As if his performance on the field wasn’t enough reason for the Cleveland Browns to cut ties with their most recent first-round bust, Manziel’s likeness to Barney Gumble certainly sealed the deal.
If there’s any glimmer of hope for Manziel, it’s that he’s still only 24 years old. He does still train, at least occasionally, most recently being spotted working through some passing drills with Odell Beckham Jr. Chargers wide receiver Travis Benjamin has also given Manziel a vote of confidence, claiming he is “ready for a comeback.”
What does all that mean? Likely nothing.
Even if Manziel is mature enough to put down the bottle, he still displayed many limitations as an NFL quarterback. The smartest move for the former Brown may be to take an opportunity in another professional league and try to work his way back up.
Johnny Manziel Props
Odds Manziel takes another regular season snap in the NFL: 5/1
Odds Manziel gets another contract in the NFL: 7/2
Odds Manziel plays in another professional football league: 5/2
Odds Manziel ever dons the Billy disguise again: 4/1
Let's have fun and keep it civil.