The NFL offseason has proven there's no time to step away without a big move being made. Big-name players such as Julio Jones, Matthew Stafford, among others, have already been traded and there's the Packers' Aaron Rodgers' dilemma looming over Green Bay.
With the QB carousel out of seats, nearly every NFL team has their starting passer set for 2021, but with so many injuries every year — and an 18-game season incoming — it's more important than ever to have a solid backup QB on the roster.
The Jacksonville Jaguars worked to overhaul their woeful roster this offseason under Urban Meyer. Landing Trevor Lawrence with the top overall pick will go a long way in their efforts. One of the dominos that could fall from his arrival is a potential trade of incumbent starter Gardner Minshew.
Minshew has been a pleasantly efficient passer as a former sixth-round pick out of Washington State. Known for his infectious personality and deeply relatable mustache, Minshew has accumulated an impressive 62.9 completion rate, 5,530 yards, 37 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 23 games. His physical limitations keep him from being a reliable starter, sure, but he's a plug-and-play backup who brings value for contenders needing an affordable option, or a team lacking a long-term starter in place.
The Jags may opt to keep Minshew, but fetching a fourth-round pick (or more!) would be solid for the franchise that no longer really needs him. This roster isn't ready to compete, so the prospect of losing Lawrence to injury would represent a silver lining. The Jags should want to tank if Lawrence goes down for long, and Minshew could hurt that effort to land another premier talent.
But who should trade for the mustachioed man? We have five teams that should absolutely acquire Minshew for the right place.
This statement isn't made to be disrespectful to former Penn State legend Trace McSorley, but the Ravens, ahem, sorely need an upgrade at backup QB. Woefully inaccurate due to his lack of velocity and pocket presence, the Ravens are playing with fire with him as their current backup. It's hard to imagine he'll end up with the job at the end of training camp.
Of course, the Ravens are at a higher risk than most teams to utilize their backup due to Lamar Jackson's playing style. Though Jackson's phenomenal body control allows him to skirt massive blows, the team simply can't operate without him. He's too valuable for the offense.
Minshew can't replicate anything Jackson does but he can keep the chains moving in his own way. His accuracy on short passes is solid. Though Minshew's mindset of constantly breaking the pocket and playing outside of the scheme is a negative on a full-time basis, it's hard for defenses to deal with when thrown into the game.
The Ravens will be involved in a tough AFC North battle with the Browns. Getting Minshew could help them win a key game or two if the worst case happens and Jackson has to miss time. They're a no-brainer landing spot for the third-year passer.
There was hope among the Cowboys' organization they might've found a gem with Cooper Rush when the team signed him as an undrafted free agent after the 2017 NFL Draft. A good athlete with a strong arm, Rush has the tools to be a capable body. But he's thrown just three passes for two yards in three seasons and is approaching the end of his rookie deal.
It's clear the Cowboys should be proactive after Dak Prescott missed most of 2020. Andy Dalton departed to Chicago for a bigger contract after his relief duty, and Rush never threw a pass despite the potential opening. Minshew would be a big upgrade.
The Cowboys' offense is more of a vertical passing game with their current receivers. Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb can certainly adjust to more of a West Coast approach if Kellen Moore transitions to Mike McCarthy's roots. Michael Gallup is an excellent deep threat who would be more of a distraction with Minshew, but nevertheless is a valuable presence in the short term.
The NFC East is another division that will likely come down to one or two games deciding the outcome of a heated race. The Cowboys arguably have the second-worst backup situation in the NFL, and that's not acceptable for a playoff hopeful.
Washington Football Team
Another NFC East team that should be on the prowl for an upgrade is the Football Team. Washington was able to land Ryan Fitzpatrick, which is exciting in headlines and for our entertainment, but he's not a reliable winning quarterback. The Fitzmagic runs dry eventually and every team he's been on eventually turns elsewhere for help at the position.
Washington may be the exception for a while thanks to their excellent surrounding cast and aggressive game-plan. However, it'd be smart for Ron Rivera to hedge against the unlikely scenario and improve his team's chances of winning. Minshew can rotate and relieve Fitzpatrick if his bad tendencies pile up as they usually do.
The other in-house option for Washington is Taylor Heinicke. The Football Team rewarded him with a multi-year deal after throwing just 19 passes in 2020, and 57 with Rivera's Panthers in 2019. But the 28-year-old has shown little in terms of real upside, and Minshew offers tangible proof of competence beyond the practice field.
The team with the least to win by improving their backup situation on this list is the Detroit Lions. Jared Goff will get at least 2021 as the starter in Detroit and likely 2022 for at least part of the season until a rookie takes over or Goff is completely established. That doesn't mean the Lions won't want to give Minshew a shot as a developmental starter, though.
Their current backups are Tim Boyle and David Blough. Neither has played significantly in the NFL outside of preseason snaps and both were overwhelmed by the opportunity. Detroit may want to completely tank if Goff gets hurt, and at least Minshew can keep them afloat in some capacity.
Neither passer has an overly strong arm, but their play styles differ from there. Goff can't work outside of the scheme and is slow-footed. Minshew is too willing to break the pocket and create. Having a backup with a considerably different skill set can be great if Goff really struggles in 2021.
Kansas City Chiefs
There's supposed value in keeping an old veteran as a backup, but oftentimes this doesn't translate to the field. The Chiefs brought Chad Henne back as their primary backup even though he failed to show much competence in his relief of Patrick Mahomes in three games in 2020. His raw numbers of 73.7 completion rate, 248 yards and two scores was almost all fluff accumulated through scheme.
Turning 36 before the season, Henne has no physical value on the field. He's played in just 10 games since 2013, and was a terrible starter previously. Kansas City can upgrade the position and save money by moving on with Minshew.
Of course, Minshew would win in a similar way by relying on the scheme. But at least he's mobile, has some natural accuracy that allows him to win outside of the pocket, and can do more than the bare minimum. The Chiefs are another that simply can't justify not upgrading the role and tanking what is a promising 2021 campaign if Mahomes gets hurt for a short period of time.
Photo: Getty Images