We’ll continue our countdown to training camp with a question that got a lot more intriguing in June — who will win the backup quarterback job?
That spot appeared pretty set after the Seahawks signed Brady Quinn in April and then cut Josh Portis in May after he was arrested on suspicion of DUI.
But in June, the Buffalo Bills released former Seahawks starter Tarvaris Jackson (above), and the Seahawks quickly brought him back to town to compete with Quinn for the backup spot behind Russell Wilson.
Given that Jackson was Seattle’s starter in 2011 (going 7-7 in 14 starts), knows the system and has the strong vocal support of many teammates, he seems the favorite to beat out Quinn (though as this NFL.com story this week rating the backup quarterbacks indicates, not everybody assumes that will be the case). Jackson also appears a better fit for the direction in which the Seattle offense is heading under Wilson with its increased emphasis on the read zone and other plays that utilize a mobile quarterback.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, though, said at the time of Jackson’s signing in June that it will be a true competition (though, true, you’d hardly expect him to say anything else).
Said Carroll then: “He (Jackson) will compete with Brady and that will be a really good battle for us to see what happens at that spot. Russell is our quarterback, there is no question about that. But if Tarvaris comes back in he understands the system, we are very familiar with him, he is comfortable with the settings and surroundings. … I think its a great boost for us in a competitive sense. We thought of Tarvaris as a tremendously tough football player and a competitive kid that battled for us and we are a little better than we were in those days so we bring him back with the thought that he will make this a really competitive situation.’’
Carroll insisted at the time that signing Jackson was not a reflection of any concern with the performance of Quinn, but rather simply an attempt to make the team better.
”Brady has done a fine job,” Carroll said. “But it just makes us that much stronger and it goes to the depth that you have competing at the spots. It just makes you better when guys are battling, so that’s really what the thought is all about. … we are seizing the opportunity that one of our guys is out there and we can bring him back in and he will be able to help us. … We’re really happy with (Quinn). He’s done a very good job and come through well. But it will be hard, it will be tough — that’s what competition is all about. T-Jack is not going to come in here and just take a back seat. He is going to come in and go for it. That’s exactly how we expect it across the board. It’s no different at quarterback.”
Regardless of who wins the battle, what’s not in doubt is that Seattle will have a much more stable quarterback situation than a year ago, when it entered the season with two quarterbacks on its roster who had just two combined career starts (both by Matt Flynn).
Now the Seahawks have an established starter in Wilson and two backups who have fairly substantial starting experience (Quinn is 4-16 in 20 starts with the Browns and Chiefs, and Jackson is 17-17 in 34 career starts with the Vikings and Seahawks).
Given that Quinn and Jackson each have pretty extensive track records, it’s hard to tell how much pre-season performance will matter in the final decision. But undoubtedly that battle will receive a good share of attention, as any involving quarterbacks inevitably does.
The real issue may be whether the Seahawks decide to keep both, or cut one and go with just two quarterbacks, as they essentially did last season.
Finances don’t figure to be an issue. Each has a one-year contract for a relatively small salary — Quinn is due to make $715,000 with $620,000 counting against the cap, and Jackson is set to make $840,000 with all of it counting against the cap.
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