You’re probably aware by now that the Carolina Panthers used the No. 100 overall pick in the NFL Draft last night to select quarterback Will Grier. I’m sure you are also aware that the Panthers currently have a 29-year-old franchise quarterback named Cam Newton. Putting those two pieces of information together, I’m sure you’re probably thinking anything from ‘Well, that’s gonna be awkward.’ to ‘Oh god, what have we done?!’.
I’m here to tell you something: Slow down, take a minute and breathe.
Everything’s gonna be okay, y’all. The Panthers didn’t draft Grier to create a quarterback controversy or to shove Newton unceremoniously through the door. They drafted Grier as a backup plan in case Newton’s shoulder isn’t completely ready to go before the season begins. A backup quarterback, in other words.
This is gonna be hard to read, but stay with me here: Drafting a young quarterback to be Cam’s back up makes perfect sense. Cam Newton is 29 years old and has had shoulder surgery twice in the last three years. He has two years left on his contract, and when that contract is up he will be 31 years old. Now, I’m not saying that the Panthers are going to kick him out of the building when his contract expires. I’m not saying that they don’t want to pay him. I’m just saying that they are giving themselves a backup option in case something else happens to Cam’s shoulder, or if the organization feels that giving him an additional five-year, $200 million contract when he’s 31 is untenable.
Smart NFL teams always have a plan. Sometimes that plan may not make sense at the time, but it’s always a good idea to be prepared in case something bad happens. In the past when something bad happened to a Panthers quarterback, our options were to start Chris Weinke, David Carr, Matt Moore, Vinny Testaverde*, Brian St. Pierre, Derek Anderson, Garrett Gilbert, Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen.
To be clear, I’m not suggesting that teams should have to keep two All-Pro quarterbacks on the roster at all times just in case something happens. And yes, when a franchise quarterback suffers a season-ending injury it’s expected to see the team struggle to win games, but that doesn’t mean that teams should just put random JAGs on the depth chart and hope for the best.
The Panthers made a decision last night to draft a backup quarterback at a good value. There’s a chance that Grier never takes a meaningful snap for the Panthers because Newton’s shoulder is 100% healed and he returns to his 2015 MVP-winning form. There’s also a chance that Grier has to start 13 games because Cam’s shoulder is not ready. But there’s also an in-between that isn’t being discussed — there’s a chance that Grier has to start a game in Week 8 and another game in Week 15, or that Grier has to come in and play the second half in a close game. That’s what the Panthers are preparing for, and getting arguably the third best quarterback in this draft class at the bottom of the third round is a tremendous value.
I’ve said this once already but in case you forgot I’ll remind you: Everything’s gonna be okay, y’all. There’s no quarterback controversy, and there’s no reason to freak out just yet. Stay the course, and as always — Keep Pounding.
*- To be fair, Testaverde was like the 27th quarterback they called that year. He doesn’t really count because their next option was to let random fans take snaps.