What Would It Take For The Packers to Trade Hundley?

Can Brett Hundley travel the same road as former Packers quarterbacks who were drafted and traded away? 

Author's note: Hello World, my name is Thomas Hobbes and I've been a staff writer at Jersey Al's All Green Bay Packers since 2010.  For everyone who has migrated over from ALLGBP.com to cheeseheadtv.com, thank you!  Apologies in advanced if the post isn't as polished as usual; I'm still in the process of learning the ins and outs of the new website and layout so bear with me. 

"Remember Matt Hasselbeck".

One of the most common rationales posited for the selection of Brett Hundley in the 5th round is the mythical "draft, develop, trade" strategy of picking a quarterback late in the draft, nurturing them in a QB friendly environment and then trading them away for a plethora of draft picks.  The "draft, develop, trade" comment usually is followed by some sort of lamenting that the Packers haven't been able to trade any quarterbacks away because 1) Mike McCarthy and his staff are actually terrible at teaching quarterbacks 2) Ted Thompson hasn't been able to find a decent quarterback prospect for the coaching staff to develop or 3) college quarterbacks simply aren't as good as they used to be coming into the league due to the prevalence of the spread offense.

While everyone fondly remembers Matt Hasselbeck and maybe Matt Cassel, they usually draw a blank as to more examples.  And really, how many times have teams traded away quarterbacks that they've drafted low and developed for big time draft value to some team that can't develop a quarterback to save their lives (read: Cleveland Browns).

To find out, I pulled data from ProFootball Reference on all quarterbacks drafted from the 5th to 7th rounds and indexed it with all the trades from 1992-2015.  Going back to my previous article, the 4th round appears to be the turning point of production vs. potential and since the question is how many times did teams take a low round quarterback and trade him for a high round draft pick, sticking to rounds 5-7 seemed like a good place to start (it does exclude Aaron Brooks, who was drafted in the 4th round).

Furthermore, trades that involved low round quarterbacks were it appeared that they weren't the main focus of the trade were excluded, which I admit is a little subjective (for example the Packers traded for J.T. O'Sullivan but really the deal was a 2nd round pick for Mike McKenzie with O'Sullivan thrown in). Furthermore, quarterbacks who were cut from the team that drafted them but were traded by another team were excluded since the drafting team obviously got none of the trade value.

Texans trade TJ Yates to the Falcons for Akeem Dent - Player for player trades are a little hard to quantify since it really depends on how each respective team feels about the player.  For the Texans, they flipped Yates, a 5th round pick for Dent a 3rd round player who has been a rotational player and spot starter for the Falcons.  Yates got "backup QB" famous in 2011 but wasn't really able to do much after that, even with the mess at quarterback that ultimately landed the Texans the first overall pick in the 2013 draft.  It's obviously impossible to tell how this trade will pan out considering neither player has played a snap for their new team, but I would be inclined to say the Texans got a little bit of value since they were likely going to cut Yates with Hoyer, Mallett and Savage ahead of Yates on the depth chart and Dent could be a spot starter or rotational player.

Patriots trade Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel to the Chiefs for 2nd round pick (pick 34) -  Probably the most recognizable "draft, develop and trade" story in recent memory, it took a season long injury to Tom Brady in order for Cassel to get into the spotlight.  Ironically, Cassel played quite poorly for the Patriots (-7.3 PFF) and didn't take them to the playoffs, but it was still enough to entice the Chiefs to bite.  The Patriots got great to good value in the trade, depending on your thoughts about Vrabel, who played decently in his first season with the Chiefs but then called it a career after an atrocious 2nd year.  I'd wager that Vrabel was likely going to be traded anyways by the Patriots due to his age and penchant for trading aging star players meaning the Patriots probably got best value for him as well.

Rams trade Ryan Fitzpatrick to the Bengals for conditional 7th round pick (not awarded) - Pretty much a flyer move by the Bengals for the Rams, who had Marc Bulger and Gus Frerotte.  Arguable the Bengals won this trade since Fitzpatrick never hit whatever performance clause was tied to the trade, but Fitzpatrick was pretty atrocious with the Bengals and was subsequently cut the next year.  The Rams gained no value since they ultimately got nothing from the trade.

Jets trade Brooks Bollinger to the Vikings for 7th round pick and CJ Mosley - Again another flyer trade with two players who were on the bubble.  Bollinger only lasted one year with the Vikings but did managed to play 216 snaps (but graded poorly) while Mosley lasted 2 seasons with the Jets and was about average.  However, the Jets did not get much value since they actually lost value in trading for a 7th round pick since Bollinger was a 6th round pick but that is balanced by the addition of Mosley.  I'd be inclined to think it's about a wash meaning the Jets gained no value.

49ers trade Cody Pickett to the Texans for a conditional 5th round pick (not awarded) - Another trade likely caused by injuries, Pickett started out the season as the 4th quarterback but ended up starting as the 49ers traded away Tim Rattay (see below) and Alex Smith and Ken Dorsey were injured.  As PFF didn't exist back then, Pickett's raw stats are 14 completions, 140 yards, 0 TDs and 2 INTs.  Pickett didn't see another snap in the NFL and Pickett failed to reach whatever performance metric was needed to get a pick so in the end the 49ers did not receive any value.

49ers trade Tim Rattay to the Buccaneers for 6th round pick (pick 192) - Rattay was the unsung hero of the 49ers, winning the starting QB job after the team released Jeff Garcia but was traded to Tampa Bay after the 49ers selected Alex Smith.  Rattay would go on to play 4 games for the Bucs, starting 2 and winning 2, throwing 4 TDs and 2 INTs.  Ironically, this trade has to go against the 49ers; Smith obviously wasn't ready and having Rattay take some of the punishment that Smith was subjected to might have allowed Smith avoid his long downward spiral into the conservative, check down player that he is now.  The 49ers gained minimal value in the trade, but lost big due to its consequences.

Texans trade Drew Henson to the Texans for 3rd round pick (pick 73) - A most curious case indeed.  Henson was drafted in the 6th round by the Texans, who were well aware that Henson intended to play baseball for the New York Yankees.  However Henson's baseball career was short and a lot of "first round" hype got the Cowboys (namely Jerry Jones) to bite on a trade for a 3rd round pick.  Henson started one game for the Cowboys but was relegated to NFL Europe with Drew Bledsoe and Tony Romo ahead of him and was never called back.  Overall, the Texans might have gotten the best value for a player in this entire list, but is such an unusual case that it's hard to replicate.

Eagles trade AJ Feeley to the Dolphins for 2nd round pick (pick 35) - Feeley was the 3rd quarterback on Eagles behind Donovan McNabb and Koy Detmer but was thrust into the starting lineup after both went down with injuries.  With Super Bowl aspirations on the line, Feeley won 4 games and secured the #1 seed in the playoffs.  The next year saw McNabb return to full health so the Dolphins traded for Feeley and what can be called an unmitigated disaster occurred after that and new head coach Nick Saban named Gus Frerotte the starter the next season.  The Eagles definitely got great value as pure 2nd round pick, at the top of the round no less, is an incredibly valuable selection.

Packers trade Matt Hasselbeck and 1st round pick (pick 17) for 1st round pick (pick 10) and 3rd round pick (pick 72) - the Packers gold standard for "draft, develop and trade", Hasselbeck spent his formative years behind Brett Favre before getting traded to the Seahawks for moving up 7 spots in the first round and an extra 3rd round, which equals a 2nd round pick according to the draft chart.  The caveat to all of this is of course how much value would Hasselbeck had if Mike Holmgren hadn't moved from Green Bay to Seattle and become the head coach and GM?  Obviously Holmgren had knew exactly what kind of player Hasselbeck was and could be after coaching him directly in Green Bay.  Regardless, the Packers, like the Eagles, got great value but moving up to the top 10 while nabbing another 3rd rounder as well.

Jets trade Glenn Foley to the Seahawks for 7th round pick - Another flyer-type of trade with Mike Holmgren trading a 7th round pick for a player largely believed to be on the cutting block with the Jets.  Foley started 1 game and appeared in 4 for the Seahawks and won his only start and compiled 283 yards and 2 touchdowns in his only season with the Seahawks.  The Jets got minimal value for the trade, while a 7th round pick does have some value, drafting Foley in the 7th round and then trading him for a 7th rounder is basically a wash as the draft value of 7th round picks all hovers around 0.

tl;dr: Of the 10 trades, only 3 (Cassel, Feeley, Hasselbeck) really fit the "draft, develop and trade" strategy of getting a high pick in return, with the caveat of Hasselbeck being an odd situation where the head coach/GM is completely certain of a player's ability as he happens to be trading with himself in essence. The only other positive ROI has to be Henson, which is such a curious situation that probably can't be considered a strategy (although fooling with Jerry Jones does seem to have become a past time for some teams).  Of the other 7, none really gave the team trading the quarterback much value in return, and in one case (Rattay) it almost certainly made the team worse.

In conclusion, 142 quarterbacks have been drafted from the 5th to 7th rounds from 1992-2015, of those 7% have been involved in a trade but only 1.4% of those quarterbacks have successfully been "drafted, developed and traded".  It's important to note that the "draft, develop, trade" strategy is incredibly uncommon and in retrospect I don't think any team actually tries to develop player for anyone other than themselves.  In that regard, it's also important to point out that both Feeley and Cassel only really got trade value after a serious injury to the starting quarterback, meaning that Hundley likely isn't going to be getting any trade value unless Rodgers goes down for a long time.  Is losing Rodgers for a significant period of time worth getting a 2nd rounder for Hundley?  I would argue no.

The other option is for a Packers coach or front office member to be hired by a different team with enough sway to influence a big trade.  Members of the Packers front office have been known to pick up former Packers players but to date, no big trade has occurred, whether that is because the Packers don't have any players that they want or because Ted Thompson doesn't want to trade them is unknown.

I think the biggest thing to remember is that teams aren't insane (although appearances might say otherwise) and they don't just trade for every quarterback who shows up in the preseason in the hopes that one of them turns into a star.  Teams need to see serious production on the field or have intimate knowledge of a quarterback before they pull the trigger.  Getting good value for trading a backup quarterback is a double edged sword cause that means he's somehow making a name for himself, either through injury ahead of him or poor play.  Neither situation is good for the team, even when weighed against getting a high draft pick.

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Comments (26)

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Idiot Fan's picture

June 15, 2015 at 01:51 pm

In some ways it seems like you really need to catch lightning in a bottle to be able to trade a developed backup QB.

First, it probably takes a few years for that QB to develop into a good player.

Second, the player's contract is probably close to running out around the time that he gets good.

Third, unless the current team intends to immediately make that player their starter, they would need to sign them to another backup-QB contract. But if the player is good enough that you could trade him for something substantial, then you probably won't be able to re-sign them for a small backup contract. So rather than trade for that player, it seems like another team can often wait and just sign them as FA.

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hobbes's picture

June 15, 2015 at 02:05 pm

I think the most important aspect of getting a great trade is that that trading team must have very good evidence to think that they are trading for a franchise or starting QB. Playing well in the preseason or in mop up duty does not appear to be enough, a quarterback must start multiple games and play well in order to attract the attention of other teams. Kansas City saw almost full season of Matt Cassel at New England and the Dolphins saw about 5 games from AJ Feeley where he won 4 of them and got his team to the playoffs to be convinced. Hasselbeck is a little bit of a different angle, but Holmgren was confident in him when he was coaching the Packers and traded for him when he became the Seahawks HC/GM.

The one option for Hundley is if Jim Mora decides to return to the NFL and Hundley does well in enough situations then that might facilitate a trade ala Hasselbeck/Holmgren

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TheLegendary52's picture

June 15, 2015 at 02:46 pm

Welcome, Mr. Hobbes. Great article! In addition, really enjoyed your analysis in the comments.

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Since'61's picture

June 15, 2015 at 08:41 pm

If we look at our backup QB situation realistically we have 2 backup QBs who have less than 3 full games of NFL experience. Tolzien played in 3 games in 2013. He relieved against the Eagles when Seneca Wallace went down early and we lost the game, then he started on the road against the NY Giants and we lost again, and in his 3rd game we were losing badly to the Vikings at home when Tolzien was replace by Matt Flynn who managed to lead a comeback and salvage a tie in OT. As we know Hundley has yet to make the team never mind any NFL experience. Therefore if Rodgers goes down for any length of time in 2015 the season is over. As for the idea that Tolzien is a legit NFL starter I would say that we don't even have enough evidence to say that he qualifies as a legit NFL backup QB. The Packers are his 3rd team, what does this tell us? No one made a bid during free agency, again what does this tell us? I believe that if Hundley progresses well they will develop him into their #2 for the longer term. Until then, Tolzien might be adequate for mop up and kneel downs. My preference would be that we don't see either of them much for the next 5-7 seasons, which means that Rodgers stays healthy and we have a legit chance to win with a legit NFL Hall of Famer. Thanks, Since '61

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hobbes's picture

June 15, 2015 at 05:27 pm

I would say Hundley has probably already made team simply since he was drafted in the 5th round. Obviously there have been cases of players drafted higher by the Packers who were cut immediately, but Hundley has a pretty clear path ahead of him in terms of the depth chart, the Packers seem inclined to keep 3 QBs based on recent history and they need a guy for the event that Tolzien leaves or isn't the backup next year.

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TarynsEyes's picture

June 15, 2015 at 05:47 pm

" As for the idea that Tolzien is a legit NFL starter I would say that we don't even have enough evidence to say that he qualifies as a legit NFL backup QB."

Since'61
Careful my friend,I have already been pounced upon for saying the same thing in respond to this 'opinion' stated as fact and by not only the site owner but one who claims to have been banned from here and yet under the guise of another name shown himself for who is was at Jersey Al's.I had refrained from commenting here as the 'clique' mentality to feast on those who defer or lack agreement and after time appears not to have subsided and this may be a regret,and yet hopefully not,for Jersey Al in the closing of his site...Fingers will remain crossed that perhaps Al may be able to obtain a change in attitudes/personal attacks allowed to go amok in comments at times and not have writers and posters once again flee elsewhere.
With hope for some corrective measures,I will simply offer to the merger of these two sites the words of Mr.Spock..."Live long and Prosper".

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Since'61's picture

June 15, 2015 at 06:55 pm

Taryn - thanks for the warning. There is always the risk of a "clique" mentality when joining a new group. That was one of the great things that I will miss about ALLGBP. For the most part, when we had disagreements there we were respectful of each other and maintained a conversational tone. Of course there were exceptions. Personally as a long time, long distance fan I have never taken either my fanship or myself seriously enough to get personal (at least, not intentionally) with other bloggers. None of this is important enough to take personally. In any case if it becomes unreasonable here I'll ignore it as best as possible and if that fails move on. Until then, like you, I'll keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best. Thanks, Since '61

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aaronqb's picture

June 15, 2015 at 05:09 pm

IMO, it's best to view Hundley as an exercise in creating value. If he is a legit backup after his rookie season, they can afford to let Tolzein sign elsewhere next year and collect a compensatory pick in return. Tolzein's value would be determine by whether he is viewed by the rest of the league as a potential starting QB or a backup. Obviously, the Packers would like him to get starter money because it would mean they get a higher compensatory pick.

Beyond this, if Hundley blossoms into a starting caliber QB, then the Packers could trade him or allow him to hit the market and get another compensatory pick. At this point, though, GB would need another backup QB.

It's all about value creation. And as far as what it would take to trade him, it would be an offer that gets GB value in return.

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hobbes's picture

June 15, 2015 at 05:35 pm

Would it be asking too much for Rodgers to start every game, Tolzien to perform well enough somehow that he nets the Packers a compensatory pick AND Hundley progresses far enough along that the Packers would be comfortable with him as the backup? I guess we can all dream right?

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Steve Cheez's picture

June 15, 2015 at 07:27 pm

Good to see all my Jersey Al buddies over here.

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Since'61's picture

June 15, 2015 at 07:33 pm

Same for me. Good to see you here Steve.
Thanks, Since '61

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JerseyAl's picture

June 15, 2015 at 08:39 pm

Well, i guess we wasted no time getting a spirited disagreement, uh... discussion started.

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hobbes's picture

June 16, 2015 at 11:44 am

My next article will be about why the Bears should bring Favre out of retirement to ruin the Thanksgiving homecoming game :P

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ShawnO's picture

June 15, 2015 at 09:14 pm

Who ever comes out of preseason the backup will likely get some playing time to show what they got in game much like Flynn did last year as our human victory cigar, playing the last few minutes of all the blow outs.

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hobbes's picture

June 16, 2015 at 11:47 am

But does that actually prove to anyone that the backup is any good? If Rodgers blows out a team (or gets blown out) and the backup gets mop up duty with the 2nd team offense and calls 3 running plays and a punt that isn't going to help the team or anyone else determine how good he is. You need several full games of the backup quarterback trying to win (as opposed to trying not to lose or embarrass the team any more) when it counts to really make that assessment.

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Clay Zombo's picture

June 15, 2015 at 10:06 pm

Welcome to all the new writers and posters. I look forward to reading all the new content and comments from everyone.

Good first article Mr Hobbes, I knew it was a longshot to do the old draft develop and trade the late round QB but didnt know the odds were quite that bad.

With QB being the most important position in the game its still worth trying from time to time. Especially if you dont have an established backup or a 3rd QB you like.

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Mojo's picture

June 15, 2015 at 11:11 pm

The Packers selected Hundley to groom as a possible backup - not as future trade bait. They saw value in where they drafted him. They probably had him much higher on their draft board than everyone else. Simple as that.

As far as Tolzien, none of us know what he'll do if he was called on to play. The better arm strength and foot work is fine, but what's important is his ability as a decision maker. It's what's between his ears that's most important.

1 TD to 5 INT's isn't to write home about. But that's a small sample and he would now be playing behind an offense that has excellent players in all the position groups except TE.

My gut says he'll never be anything but mediocre. He'll have his moments, but never enough when the pressures on - to raise the team to the next level.

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sonomaca's picture

June 16, 2015 at 09:56 am

TT traded up to get Hundley. TT loves Pac-12 players, and UCLA players in particular. Ted saw extreme value, and he grabbed it. Load up the team with talent first. Worry about how to utilize the talent later. Great approach.

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hobbes's picture

June 16, 2015 at 11:57 am

Every player in the 5th-7th rounds is probably extreme value for each team; the draft is such a crap shoot, teams differ wildly in the 1st round in who they value and that difference becomes much much greater as the draft continues.

I would also say having talented players but no clue how to utilize them is a poor decision, the Lions were and maybe still are a great example of a team with tons of talent but no idea what they were doing (other than to play dirty).

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sonomaca's picture

June 16, 2015 at 12:46 pm

You're comparing the Packers to the Lions?
I Think the Ravens are a more apt comparison. Load up the roster with talent. Sort it out later.

Aside from D line, where exactly is (or was) Lion's talent ?

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sonomaca's picture

June 16, 2015 at 12:53 pm

BTW, that approach explains Rollins and Randall. Get talented players (athletes) and find a fit later.

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hobbes's picture

June 16, 2015 at 03:44 pm

For the last couple years the Lions were the team to beat in the NFC North were they not? On an individual level they have a lot of talent. They have multiple high round draft picks all over the roster and they were one of the best defenses in the league. However, you always knew in the back of your head that there was no way the Lions could keep up with the Packers because they were gonna choke or shoot themselves in the foot sooner or later.

The Ravens are not a better comparison because they have talent but are also disciplined enough to know how to use it

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sonomaca's picture

June 16, 2015 at 10:59 pm

Did you day the Lions were the team to beat? I don't know too many people who would agree. The Ravens and Packers are very similar: draft the best talent available, and then develop. Only real difference is that Ravens don't pay much attention to character.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

June 17, 2015 at 01:30 am

Dear Sonomaca,

Thomas used the past tense: the Lions were (i.e. used to be) the team to beat. LOL about Ozzie not being overly concerned about character. Ray Rice? Sergio Kindle (pick #43 - 2010) eventually played some STs for them and when last heard of was selling cars in Texas.

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sonomaca's picture

June 17, 2015 at 12:05 pm

I said that the Ravens don't pay much attention to character. Read before you write. Regarding the Liions, I said is or was. No one ever thought the Lions were the team to beat in the NFC North, at least not in my lifetime.

TT and Ozzie have consistently outperformed on draft day. Is it any surprise the Ravens and Packers consistently outperform on the field. The key is to find high upside players whether you need them right away or not. Gil Brandt didn't see much difference between Hundley's talent and the top QB's. I think that's right.

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hobbes's picture

June 17, 2015 at 06:14 pm

Your other options were the Bears (with Cutler) or the Vikings (without Peterson). Keep in mind the Bears and Vikings won 5 and 7 games while the Lions won 11 and made the playoffs.

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