There's no doubt about it, the Panthers need a veteran QB. One who can serve both as mentor and competition to guide the offense through the 2011 season (provided there is one) and essentially be caretaker while Ron Rivera and Co. can either evaluate Jimmy Clausen and Tony Pike or develop a rookie QB should they decide to take one in the draft. This isn't just a machination of writers and fans either, just the other day Jon Beason said on WFNZ that he believes the team needs to bring in a veteran QB to compete for the job with Jimmy Clausen.
Enter 34 year old Billy Volek, a ten year NFL veteran and arguably one of the most reliable backup quarterbacks in the NFL. Oftentimes the quality of a backup can be measured in how few stop they've made along the way, and Volek typifies this notion, playing from 2000-2006 with the Tennessee Titans and 2006-2010 with the San Diego Chargers. There was a time he was seen in the same light as Matt Schaub and Matt Cassell as a QB who was ready to start in the NFL, but ultimately behind someone considered 'unbenchable'. For Schaub and Cassell this was Michael Vick and Tom Brady respectively, for Volek it was Steve McNair and Philip Rivers.
His longest streak of starts came in 2004 for the injured Steve McNair in which Volek started eight games for the Titans. Over this eight game stretch he completed 61.1% of his passes, threw for 2,486 yards, 18 TD, 10 INT and finished with a QB rating of 87.1. This was also the season where Volek joined an exclusive club of QBs who have thrown for over 400 yards in back-to-back games, passing for 426 and 492 yards against Kansas City and Oakland.
After the jump we'll look at why Volek is a good fit for the Carolina Panthers and what he can bring to the table.
Tip of the hat to jkp1516 for showing the Panthers interest (per Steve Reed) in a fanshot.
Why Volek is the right fit for the Carolina Panthers:
- He knows who he is: This might seem like an obvious reason, but Billy Volek is self assured. He doesn't have any delusions of grandeur about his role in the NFL at this point, and wouldn't be the kind to canabalize a young player solely to get one more shot as a starter.
- He's worked behind some of the best in the business: Remember why we're bringing in a veteran, to help mold the young players. Look at the people Volek has worked under in the past, future HoF caliber QBs. It's hard to imagine he hasn't learned at least some of what makes those players tick. This information is invaluable to help mentor a young QB.
- Ron Rivera and Rob Chudzinski know him: Granted, Rivera would only have casual interactions with the QBs, but regardless, two of the key coaches having a familiarity with Volek is a good thing, and if brought in then it's safe to assume both Rivera and Chudz endorse his character.
- He's 6'2": Simply put, Volek doesn't hit the DL. This is one of the biggest problems Jimmy Clausen needs to overcome and many have suggested it's because of his height (or lack thereof). Realistically, it has far more to do with his mechanics and his release point rather than his height. Regardless, Volek has been successful at his height and provided a good QB coach is there too they can correct Clausen's release to overcome this.
- He's cheap: Both literally, and figuratively there would be little risk in bringing Volek into the fold. He's already a free agent, wouldn't require a large investment or trade and if Carolina settle on their future guy he would easily step back and assume the backup role again.