The 2013 season in Green Bay was memorable—for all the wrong reasons—for the myriad of problems the Packers had to endure at the quarterback position.
When Aaron Rodgers was lost for seven consecutive games with a broken collarbone, the carousel of quarterbacks began spinning.
First the Packers went with longtime veteran Seneca Wallace, then turned to Scott Tolzien before finally settling on Matt Flynn.
And that was before the failed experiments of Vince Young, Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman back during training camp.
It was a once-in-a-decade embarrassment of injuries and ineptitude at the most-important position on the football field.
The lesson the Packers should have learned from 2013 is not that they need depth at the quarterback position, however. It's the "once in a decade" part.
It would be a mistake and an overreaction for the Packers to carry three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster as they enter the regular season in 2014.
By carrying a third quarterback, one that ideally won't play a single snap this season, the Packers would have to sacrifice a player at another position.
Think of the promising young players that have had breakout training camp campaigns: Jayrone Elliott, Mike Pennel, Jumal Rolle. Keeping a third quarterback might mean having to cut one of these future contributors.
"It's like any position, Matt and Scott aren't just competing against each other," said head coach Mike McCarthy. "This goes back to the way we've always picked a team. You have to keep your best players. They're really competing against the other positions, and that's really what it will come down to."
Yes, there is a degree of risk involved in keeping only two quarterbacks.
The Packers would necessarily have to develop a third quarterback on the practice squad. And if Aaron Rodgers misses as little as one game with a relatively minor injury, the Packers would have to make a transaction to add another quarterback to their active roster regardless.
But that's a chance the Packers should be willing to take.
Scott Tolzien has proved himself this preseason. His command of the offense is light years better than a year ago, and he has the requisite NFL arm strength, more than Matt Flynn.
A preseason stat line reading 26 of 38 for 338 yards, completing 68.4 percent of his passes, averaging 8.9 yards per pass, avoiding any turnovers and accumulating a passer rating of 104.9 is all the proof needed to keep Tolzien around.
In the event the Packers suffer an injury and need Matt Flynn, there's a decent chance he's available at a moment's notice as a street free agent just like he was last season when the Packers signed him to a contract.
Sure, there's a possibility Flynn gets picked up by another NFL team, but there's an equally good chance he doesn't.
The Packers will also be an attractive destination for any quarterback cut by another NFL team at the end of training camp, not unlike how the Packers originally acquired Tolzien on the practice squad last season.
Any quarterback should know that by signing with Green Bay, he becomes the de facto third-string quarterback, even if he's only on the practice squad.
Combine all these factors, and it's just not worth keeping a third quarterback on the 53-man roster.
This isn't an original thought, but as plenty of others have said before: If Rodgers suffers a season-ending injury, the chances of the Packers winning the Super Bowl is probably nil anyway.
And if the Packers just have to get through a rough patch with Rodgers missing a handful of games, it's time to place some faith in Tolzien.
Tolzien is not the heir apparent to Rodgers, and he doesn't have to be. He just has to be a reliable NFL backup. And based on his play this preseason, he looks like he can handle that responsibility.
Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor at Cheesehead TV and its "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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