When the New Orleans Saints announced they had signed undrafted free agent rookie quarterback J.T. Barrett of Ohio State University the other day, a sizable portion of Saints fans greeted the news with great excitement as the team continues to looks to add depth at the QB position behind starter Drew Brees.
Barrett went undrafted largely due to the fact that he struggles with accuracy and has some difficulties with his reads and progressions; two areas of among a handful of traits of QB play at the next level (ball placement and "throwing receivers open" are a few others) that he will most definitely will have to improve upon if he hopes to be successful at the next level and make it onto an NFL roster.
Anticipation/Touch/Ball Placement (particularly beyond 15-20 yards) all big issues not sure time will fix, but can hope. Love the leadership capabilities. I'm not a big fan of him under pressure, but I think he can work his way to being a reliable backup in the league.
— Deuce Windham (@RevDeuceWindham) May 3, 2018
But his top-notch athleticism and a stronger-than-average arm allow him to remain an exciting prospect for the future; and the possible opportunity for Barrett to come to New Orleans and learn how to play the position at the professional level while sitting behind starting QB and likely future NFL Hall of Famer Drew Brees, has some 'Who Dats' practically "dancing in the streets".
Nevertheless, the 3-year contract given to Barrett by the team is the standard one given to all UDFA signees, and he first will have to make a favorable impression upon the Saints coaching staff at the team's Rookie Mini-Camp in just little over a week from now; if he hopes to get asked to come back and compete even further this coming summer during Training Camp, for a shot to land a back-up role on the team's 53-man roster for the 2018 season.
Perhaps what's somewhat ironic though with regard to the fan reaction over Barrett's signing, just happens to be the fact that most of those very same Saints fans had quite a similar reaction just a few short months ago; back during the team's successful 2017 season last year with current #3 QB Taysom Hill.
Hill as you might recall didn't join the Saints until last September after spending the 2017 off-season and Pre-Season with the Green Bay Packers. Hill went undrafted out of BYU last year, and the Saints claimed him off waivers when the Packers cut him.
Hill appeared in five games last season playing mostly on special teams, but his own brilliant athleticism along with his capability to play the QB position as the former starting QB at BYU make him a very strong candidate to secure a permanent back-up QB spot on the roster as well as a possible shot to be the team's "QB of the future".
The addition of Barrett into the mix should now add even more further intrigue into the Saints back-up QB situation behind Brees, whom as we all know will be playing in his 18th NFL season later this year.
Could there now possibly be a potential battle "brewing" for this coming Summer at Training Camp, to be the permanent #2 QB behind Brees and maybe even the future starter after Brees retires in a few years?
At the moment, that certainly appears to be the case.
Keep in mind: the Saints signed former Houston Texans QB Tom Savage to a 1-year deal at the start of 2018 NFL Free Agency several weeks ago, to be the #2 QB behind Brees following the departure of last year's #2 QB, Chase Daniel (who signed with the Chicago Bears).
Savage spent his first four years with the Texans, starting nine games and quickly losing the job to rookie Deshaun Watson in 2017. However, it's been noted in the past that he's considered a slow-moving quarterback with a concussion history. It's also been reported that the 27-year-old Savage has used this current off-season to shed 17-plus pounds after measuring in at 230 pounds last season and looking heavier on the field.
Bottom line: Savage is no "lock" at all to be the #2 QB, leaving the door WIDE OPEN to become the permanent back-up to Brees.
And we would be remiss by not mentioning the one potential "wild card" that could get thrown into the brewing Saints back-up QB battle, with the recent invitation to next weekend's Rookie Camp extended the other day to unsigned rookie free agent and former Troy State University QB Brandon Silvers.
Silvers threw for 10,684 yards and 71 touchdowns while at Troy State, which is a program located in southeastern Alabama and plays in the Sun Belt Conference.
But many Saints fans that live in Louisiana will remember Silvers from last year's stunning upset by the Trojans over LSU, who defeated the Tigers by a score of 24-21 at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge.
He also drew notice from legendary former Saints QB Archie Manning by working as a counselor at the midsummer Manning Passing Academy.
The two exchange texts with each other still, and the original "franchise QB" of the Saints was high on Silvers' accomplishments as a "small school" QB.
"Go into Tiger Stadium; a smaller school, a smaller conference and knock off a top-20 team, that's really commendable," Manning said to reporters in December, when Silvers and the rest of the Trojans team were in New Orleans for the school's appearance against North Texas in the 2017 New Orleans Bowl at the Superdome .
"You don't do that without good quarterback leadership."
There's also one other UDFA QB that's received an invite to next weekend's camp, in former Kansas State QB Jesse Ertz.
Ertz threw for 2,685 yards and 16 touchdowns and rushed for 1,399 yards and 15 touchdowns over the course of four injury-plagued seasons for the Wildcats.
However, he's viewed as the "long shot" of the current bunch, although it should be important to note that competition often brings out the best in all of these players, so in no way, shape, or form should Ertz be left out of the equation; even though his history with injuries are a concern.
Just as with J.T. Barrett and Silvers, it's very possible that Ertz too could earn a chance to be asked to return and participate during Training Camp in August, if he impresses the Saints coaching staff during next weekend's Rookie Mini-Camp.
One thing to remember: If none of these QB's manage to emerge as a "clear cut" favorite by the end of the Pre-Season, the Saints could decide instead to go after a veteran QB on someone else’s roster, as a fall-back option to make sure that the team isn't left "hanging in the breeze" (no pun intended) at the spot behind one of the sport's greatest signal-callers.
Then it's Savage. Hill. Barrett. Silvers. Ertz.
5 quarterbacks, potentially fighting it out for only 2 open spots.