FA Blake Bortles last viable QB option for LA Rams

(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

LA Rams NFL free-agency QB options now down to Blake Bortles

The LA Rams were always going to roll with starting quarterback Jared Goff. But the rest of the depth chart has always seemed to be a case of “in-process” since the 2019 NFL season ended. Of course, the Rams roster moves were dictated almost entirely by a lack of spending money.  After all, it’s easy to remain near the penny gumball machines if you only have a penny in your pocket.

But the NFL Free Agency market for veteran quarterbacks in 2020 was unlike any other year in recent history. The rookie class of 2020 was loaded with solid, if not excellent, quarterback options. And thanks to the rules-changes over the past ten years or so, veteran quarterback careers have extended well beyond the average playing careers of quarterbacks. And the veteran quarterbacks hit the NFL Free Agency market at the same time as that robust rookie class.

QB supply no longer plentiful

Much like any other supply versus demand equation, when the demand is steady but the supply goes up? The price falls.  And so, veteran quarterbacks found themselves signing for perhaps their least expensive contract of their career. Veterans like Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco, and now, even Cam Newton, signed for at or nearly at the league minimum. Of course, some contracts provided for incentives based on playing time, percentages of starts, and perhaps even statistical and performance bonuses to add significant compensation.  But even adding those in, veteran NFL quarterbacks were the true bargain of the NFL Free Agency market.

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A market the LA Rams avoided like the plague.

Now the supply of veteran quarterbacks who could make a positive impact coming off the bench has been depleted.  The risks to a starting quarterback falling to the combination of either an injury or simply by contracting COVID-19 is significant this year.  Planning for the likelihood of playing games without QB Jared Goff under center should not be discussed in terms of if, but rather in terms of when. The NFL dialogue around the topic has gotten all the way to discussing adding an extra player to the practice squad – a quarantine quarterback position – to promote to the active roster when the starting quarterback is quarantined with coronavirus symptoms.

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Another missed window of opportunity

The LA Rams may get lucky. But Los Angeles will not eradicate COVID-19 in 2020.  The team is running with a quarterback room that consists of starter Jared Goff, untested second-year player John Wolford, and two rookie quarterbacks who were signed after the 2020 NFL Draft in Josh Love and Bryce Perkins.  While I am thrilled at the concept of the talent for the future of the LA Rams roster, I do not think I’m alone is second-guessing the team’s decision to run with such incredibly young and inexperienced quarterbacks into a season where there is more chance of starter Jared Goff of missing games, multiple consecutive games, than not.

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If something happens during the season, can the Rams sign a guy? Certainly. But any opportunity to learn a playbook and be prepared for that day fades further from reality each day the Rams continue with just four quarterbacks.  The LA Rams could sign veteran QB Blake Bortles, a player who knows the Rams coaches and playbook, for a minimal impact on the team’s salary cap.  The cost to the team will be less than $500K to the 2020 salary cap. But the cost to everyone if the team misses the playoffs due to poor backup quarterback play?  Very expensive indeed. It’s that reason that I will not be surprised if the Rams re-sign Bortles before training camp on July 28.