Being a young quarterback with this Falcons team has mostly been an exercise in boredom before the axe lands. The likes of John Parker Wilson, Trevor Knight, Garrett Grayson, and the immortal Sean Renfree have either spent time on the practice squad or the roster but have had vanishingly few chances to get in games thanks to Matt Ryan’s durability, and they’ve mostly been supplanted by veterans as time has gone on.
Kurt Benkert may prove to be more JPW and Renfree than the other guys, and I’m still holding out hope that he could prove to be the team’s long-term backup with a little more seasoning. That feeling was cemented by the team’s decision to roster exactly zero undrafted free agent quarterbacks and to forego the position in the draft despite a wealth of semi-interesting late round options, and coincides with the winding down of the great Matt Schaub’s career.
Benkert’s legitimately interesting because he is not the willow-armed caretaker that JPW and Renfree were when they had their stints behind Ryan, but an athletic player with a big arm and near-prototype height and build. As he proved last preseason, Benkert’s presence in the pocket and accuracy need work, and those inconsistencies explain both why he went undrafted and partly why the team hasn’t just cut the cord on Schaub (who is valued for his locker room presence but has looked like toast as a QB for a while now) and given him the gig yet. Further time developing his game is probably a good thing, and hopefully the fact that no team nabbed Benkert off the practice squad a year ago means the same will hold true again this year.
Realistically, the earliest Benkert’s going to be able to outright take the backup job is 2020, when the Falcons would save $2 million (with $375,000 in dead money) by cutting ties with Matt Schaub. They could save $750,000 against a dead hit of $755,000 this year if Benkert just beats Schaub out, but that both feels unlikely and feels like a waste of three-quarters of a million dollars. Chances are good that the Falcons will plop Benkert on the practice squad for one more season, let Schaub dispense veteran wisdom and sagely hold the clipboard, and then look to shake things up next season.
Will Benkert be the backup in 2020? Let’s hear from you.