It took longer than originally expected, but the New York Jets and Denver Broncos have finally completed a trade that will send quarterback Tim Tebow and a seventh-round pick to the Jets in exchange for a fourth- and sixth-round pick.
Lost in that deal is the fact that the Jets already have three roster-quality quarterbacks on the current depth chart. Mark Sanchez is the obvious starter, but the Jets also signed former Detroit Lions quarterback Drew Stanton to replace Mark Brunell as the primary backup and have 2011 seventh-round pick Greg McElroy under contract.
Now that Tebow is getting shoved into the Jets' quarterbacking log jam somewhere, it's likely that one of those names won't be in New York to start 2012.
That's where the Green Bay Packers may come in.
The odds-on favorite to be the odd-man out is McElroy, considering the Jets signed Stanton to be the team's No. 2 quarterback and releasing Tebow after one summer would be a huge waste of draft picks. Also, a radio rant about "selfish teammates" in the Jets' locker room after last season might guarantee that the young quarterback is New York's No. 4 quarterback.
If released by the Jets, McElroy could potentially interest the Packers as the No. 3 quarterback on Green Bay's depth chart next season.
There are similarities abound between McElroy and Matt Flynn, the man he'd replace in the Packers' quarterback stable:
- McElroy won a National Championship as Alabama's starting quarterback in 2009, just two years after Flynn led LSU to the top of college football world. Both McElroy and Flynn had their share of big-game experience before entering the NFL.
- Both players are officially listed at 6-2, 225 lbs. While McElroy is on the short side of 6-2 (measured 6-1 7/8 at 2011 combine) and Flynn on the tall side, the former still fits what Packers GM Ted Thompson typically looks for size-wise in a quarterback.
- Like Flynn, McElroy is a smart, heady player. His 43 on the Wonderlic test before the 2011 NFL draft clearly illustrates that fact. Flynn was able to thrive in the Packers system because he could grasp information and digest a complicated offense quickly.
- Entering their respective drafts, both quarterbacks dropped severely because of question marks on arm strength. In just three years under Mike McCarthy, Tom Clements and Joe Philbin, Flynn developed his arm to where it now ranks as starting-quality.
- Both were seventh-round picks.
The theory for bringing in McElroy is simple. Given a few offseasons working with McCarthy and Clements in the Packers' quarterback school and learning behind one of the NFL's best in Aaron Rodgers, McElroy would progress into another player of Flynn's quality. Teamed with Graham Harrell, McElroy would give the Packers a sense of security behind Rodgers until one of the backups eventually found a better chance to play elsewhere.
Above is a perfect world scenario, and the same one envisioned when many went googly-eyed over having Tebow under the wings of the NFL's most successful learning environment for quarterback. In reality, there's likely road blocks for even getting McElroy to Green Bay.
The Jets could very easily hold on to McElroy through the offseason and into training camp to see if he's capable of beating out either Stanton or Tebow, and releasing him right now doesn't make a lot of sense given the competition New York has obviously sought at the quarterback position this spring.
By the time McElroy could be available in that scenario, the Packers will have likely added another quarterback to the roster via April's draft and wouldn't have a need for another player at the position.
It is also entirely possible that Stanton could be flat-out released first, with Tebow inheriting the primary backup role and McElroy staying on the roster as the No. 3.
But if this narrative does include the Jets releasing McElroy in the coming weeks, the Packers may be one team that would have interest in acquiring him. Adding another late-round choice to compete with McElroy and Harrell potentially gives Green Bay the opportunity to solidify its backup quarterback situation behind Aaron Rodgers for 2012 and beyond.
McElroy's pre-2011 draft bio, from the Green Bay Press-Gazette's Pete Dougherty:
Father works as an administrative vice president for the Dallas Cowboys. Played behind (New Orleans No. 3) Chase Daniel in high school until his senior year, then won Texas offensive player of the year. Redshirted as a freshman at Alabama, was a backup for two years, starter the last two. Had a 24-3 record and led the Crimson Tide to the national championship in the ’09 season. Had a career passer rating of 106.7 and showed great accuracy last year with a 70.9 completion percentage. Is on the smallish side and lacks arm strength but might have the intangibles to give him a chance to make it in the NFL. “Some people think that,” one scout said. “I’m not sure coming away from the Senior Bowl it’s that way for me. They just come in a bigger package typically, a stronger package.”