Yardbarker Horiz

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Is Quarterback Solved for 2010?

Could it be that next year there will finally NOT be a QB controversy for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?  Is the position already set for the next several years barring a you-can't-pass-that-up draft pick?

On Nov 24th 2009 the Buccaneers acquired Rudy Carpenter from the Dallas Cowboys practice squad.  Carpenter is an undrafted rookie from Arizona State.  There is a draft perspective analysis and overview at the CBS NFL Draft Scout site.  No need to repeat that information here -- it's not really the topic.  However, this says a lot:

Carpenter started the final 43 games of his career and threw 1,309 passes with only 35 interceptions. He set an NCAA record for interception avoidance as a freshman with just two in 228 passes. As a senior, he threw 131 consecutive passes without an interception. "In the NFL and any other level of football it's hard to score points when you don't have the football," Carpenter said. "You can't turn the ball over at quarterback. One of my biggest assets is my decision making. That's going to help me out at the next level."- Rick Gosselin, The Dallas Morning News

Carpenter was not rated particularly high on most draft boards (for example:  #19 in the CBS QB Draft Prospect list for 2009).  However, with 12 Quarterbacks being drafted last year Carpenter became a worthwhile free agent,  The Dallas Cowboys liked what they saw enough to play him in two of four preseason games.  He appears to be what you want in a 3rd quarterback:  smart, efficient, and does not turn over the ball.  These same qualities make him valuable as the scout team QB.  Carptenter replaces former starter and previous #3 Byron Leftwich who moved to the IR.

The Bucs signed Leftwich last April to a two year deal.  If Leftwich heals what ails him, Carpenter assures the bucs go into the offseason with four QBs. While the situation was the same last year (Griese, Johnson, Leftwich, McCown) it was hardly stable as the incumbent starter Jeff Garcia had already become a free agent and Brian Griese (essentially replaced by Leftwich) seemed convinced that his starting opportunities in Tampa Bay were over.  This year the story is different:  rookie and 2009 #1 pick Josh Freeman has been impressive.  Josh Johnson was able to get valuable game experience and show flashes of what he can be.  And the 7th year veteran Leftwich anchored the position for the first four games of the season.  With the addition of Carpenter, the Bucs assure the youth they have been driving for at the QB position.  Keeping Leftwich for the second year is cap-friendly and adds stability and a veteran offseason presence to the position.

Most importantly, with this free agent pick-up, GM Mark Dominik has assured Tampa Bay fans that there will be no speculation on the QB position this offseason.  For the first time in quite some time there is not an aging veteran leading the QB position (or two, or three .  .).  There are no worries about a whether a free agent QB has just one more great season to give.  In fact, the Buccaneers will have the luxury on draft day of selecting a QB if and only if the player is the best player on the board, or, if the opportunity presents itself, taking the option to trade out to gather additional picks.  With a high draft pick looming and all signs pointing to an extremely deep talent pool in the 2010 draft the Buccaneers are in an enviable position -- quarterbacks are trade-up material (see Mark Sanchez from 2009; Tampa also moved up two spots to assure getting Freeman) and Tampa Bay is a team which would prosper from trading down.  The same situation applies to the two second round picks if Tampa retains them until draft day.

By putting the finishing touches on the quarterback position now Dominik has opened up many options for the Buccaneers later. A Very Good Move.

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