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Can Joe Callahan Eventually Be Aaron Rodgers Backup?

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Can Joe Callahan Eventually Be Aaron Rodgers Backup?

There will be plenty of story lines to follow when the Green Bay Packers start training camp this week, but one that’s a little under the radar is Joe Callahan and his quest to prove he can one day be Aaron Rodgers backup.

At first thought, the idea might seem a little ridiculous. When the Packers signed him to be a camp arm a season ago, he wasn’t expected to make the roster. He wasn't in Green Bay’s long-term plans at quarterback either, but with another impressive preseason, he could be.

Callahan was thrown into the fire during training camp last August and after an injury limited Brett Hundley, Callahan got his chance to shine, and took advantage of it. By the cut-down date, he had made a believer out of Mike McCarthy and made the final 53.

Of course, he was cut, then spent short stints in New Orleans and Cleveland, before returning to Green Bay by season’s end. Now, the question is, can Callahan keep his roster spot for another season?

And more importantly, can he establish himself as the future No. 2 to Rodgers? 

The first step, will be having another impressive camp. So far, there have been signs of improvement. And after a year in the Packers system, as well as a year of NFL coaching, Callahan should be a more polished product.

Like Hundley a year ago, Callahan should be expected to have a greater command of the field. He found a way to make some plays in the 2016 preseason, but the offense didn’t always feel like a well-oiled machine.

Yet, with Hundley’s status up in the air beyond this season, this training camp and the preseason that goes along with it, will be absolutely critical for Callahan.

If he performs as a high level, he should have a good chance of earning his way back onto the roster, even though keeping three quarterbacks is sometimes a hard pill for coaches to swallow.

However, if the Packers believe Callahan could develop into Rodgers’ future backup, they'd have to keep him. 

Not only are good backup quarterbacks hard to find, but if Callahan is up to the job, it could make Hundley more expendable, which could allow a trade to happen this offseason.

Certainly, the Packers would love to move Hundley for a second or third-round pick next spring, but they should only do so if they have a viable alternative, something Callahan can become with another strong preseason.

Asking Callahan to be Rodgers' backup is risky and he may prove unequal to the task. But until we see the second-year quarterback in action, it's really hard to say one way or the other. 

Callahan's play probably won't matter one way or another in 2017, but in the future, he could be the Aaron Rodgers insurance policy, which is reason enough to follow him closely over the next month.


Chris is a sports journalist from Montana and has been blogging about the Packers since 2011. Chris has been a staff writer for CheeseheadTV since 2017 and looks forward to the day when Aaron Rodgers wins his second Super Bowl. Follow him @thepackersguru

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (23) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Nick Perry's picture

Interesting question but I have my doubts he could be a back-up QB in this league. If he's progressed and is better than he was last season then I guess it's a possibility. I mean he played pretty well last year in the preseason but so did Vic So'oto at one time.

IF the Packers were able to flip Hundley for the desired draft pick then my hope is the Packers have someone they feel confident can win an NFL regular season game. I don't know if Callahan is that guy but I DON'T want a replay of the 2012 season and find out the hard way....EVER!

Spock's picture

I agree NP, Callahan was good at "improvising" on the run, but as the author states above, "He found a way to make some plays in the 2016 preseason, but the offense didn’t always feel like a well-oiled machine.". I would say that was an understatement last year! If the Packers are serious about moving Hundley for higher draft picks Callahan will need to show marked improvement. Heck, even the Browns let him go. We shall see if MM can be a QB whisperer this training camp.

Tarynfor12's picture

" Heck, even the Browns let him go."

Because the Browns have cornered the market of knowledge on what a QB should be and the incomparable ability to distinguish who has the talent to become one....the last 30 years.
I hope you're not an investment broker of stock by any chance....because you are clearly offering bad analysis based on bad decades long investors in QB's.

gr7070's picture

I don't see much difference between Hundley and Callahan. I don't mean playing style.

Both have shown about the same amount of ability to be NFL QBs. We've got one good off-season of work from each of them. Both were very good college QBs. That's all we got.

I find it funny that anyone would suggest with much certainty that one is a surefire backup and the other is far from it.

Turophile's picture

gr7070 gets it. Good college play and one decent preseason each, is all we have on them.

Hard though it is to wait for training camp and preseason games, waiting is what we have to do until the two of them can put a little more meat on the judgement bone. To be fair, Chris Peterson made no real projection, just pointed out that Callahan was worth watching.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

If GB can move Hundley for a 2nd or (high) 3rd, they should do so even if they have no viable back-up for AR in 2018. If Callahan and Hill fail to impress, then our GM will have to either open his wallet for a veteran FA QB or use a 2nd/3rd round pick on a QB in that draft. If QB is deep in 2018, maybe we can use a 4th.

The only reason I'd keep Hundley is if the pick offered is too low, roughly a 4th/5th or worse. I'd have to think about a 3rd round comp, but I'd probably take it depending on how Hundley looks this preseason and in any NFL games he might get to play in. If the pick is too low, take the comp pick.

Would you rather

gr7070's picture

Agreed, though I'd jump at any 3rd rounder.

Without a very good preseason we're not getting even that for him.

I have no issues with Callahan over Hundley going into 2017. For all we know Callahan is the better QB today???

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

True. I like Hundley better than Callahan, but the difference is not gigantic.

A 3rd can get you a good player, no doubt about it. It can get a very talented player like Adams, who I fear is trouble but he had just way too much talent to ignore at #93. Though Adams signed his contract July 5, I still can't find it posted anyway. It could be nothing, but it gives me pause.

[Edit: Well, 247sports has some numbers - looks like Adams got a $50K increase in signing bonus over Fackrell, the 3rd rounder taken last year at #88 to Adams' #93. No idea why sportrac and OVC have nada.]

Gman1976's picture

While Callahan (as well as Hundley) have shown flashes of good play at times, it remains to be seen if they will be even be serviceable backups in the NFL. They just haven't played much. I think we should keep Hundley as long as we can (and even Callahan) since they have some talent, but I sure hope we don't have to see them on the field. Man oh man, have we been blessed with starting QBs!!!

4zone's picture

I like Joe. He's got that special kinda quality you can't put your finger on. He impresses me as a guy who's gonna do whatever it takes to figure it all out. Will be exciting to watch. Hope he beats the odds!

TheVOR's picture

DEAD NUTS!!! He has the GAMER Edge!! Without trying to make a silly comparison to Favre's Skills, He is very FAVRE LIKE! He makes things happen. Do you know how many NFL QB's look terrible playing with the 3's and the last 25 of the 90 man preseason roster? It's virtually impossible to impress anyone playing on the back end of a preseason game... YET! The Dude was awesome in winning football games. He was the "Go Down Swinging" kind of Bravado! I love this football player, I'd take this FB player right now over the lions share of backups in the league, he's that impressive. I sincerely hope GB lets him play with the 2's a bit in the preseason. I'd like to see him against a little bit stiffer competition. But this guy was all kinds of game last preseason, and he showed it! Total Baller!

Handsback's picture

I also like Callahan. He's got moxie and a better then avg. arm.
He did good last year and deserves a chance to grow. He will never be a Rodgers....but he could be a Brees.

LayingTheLawe's picture

He could be the number 3 all time yardage and td leader in the NFL? Give me a break.

dobber's picture

Yeah, no offense, Handsback, but I almost did a spit-take on that...

dobber's picture

Double post

Since '61's picture

If Callahan could be a Brees he would be starting in the NFL by now. Thanks, Since '61

Arthur Jackson's picture

I wouldn't get to down on Handsback for the Brees comment. It's the similar build and underwhelming arm that begs those comparisons. Brees was of course a first round pick so he had all the opportunities, but he didn't really play as a rookie and by season three he was benched midway for a 41 year old QB, Doug Flutie.

Handsback's picture

Well I remember Romo was a UDFA and I think Callahan is further along in some things (reading defenses) than Romo. I can't really say much about his arm strength in comparison to Romo or Brees, (not an expert) but ask yourself how good was Rodgers at this point in his career. Not saying he would be that good, saying he has some visible upside for a second year player.
I like him and hopefully he allows Green Bay to get a high pick for Hundley and back-up Rodgers from time to time.

A Pickled Packer's picture

Callahan is a scrambler, everybody loves a scrambler. Glad to see he was able to make it back to us. Maybe its karma that it did.

PETER MAIZ's picture

So what happened to our backup of 3 years ago?

packrulz's picture

Joe has good mechanics, ability to read defenses, and is pretty accurate in his throws. I also worry about ARod getting hurt, especially since we let Sitton/Lang go. I vote we keep 3 QB's and stash a RB on the practice squad.

TXCHEESE's picture

I liked Callahan's moxie last year during preseason, but you really have to wonder how that would translate to games that count. I think Taysom Hill probably has a higher ceiling, and wouldn't be surprised if he surpasses Callahan at some point in the preseason.

Slim11's picture

I agree. I like Callahan but part of that is I also played D3 as he did.

The scenario I see with Hill is he plays well enough and Callahan develops enough that TT trades Hundley during training camp due to an injury on another team. That way, Hill can be kept on the PS and Callahan becomes the new #2 QB.

A QB-needy team could dangle a #4 pick for Hundley early on and TT might bite.

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