Kurt Benkert had a strong first preseason game, the kind that could have positioned him to seize the backup quarterback job away from Matt Schaub. Alas, he won’t get the opportunity now, as the team has finally confirmed his injury was serious enough to land him on injured reserve.
We have agreed to terms with OL Tommy Doles and have placed QB Kurt Benkert on IR.https://t.co/GsbGwLdLLm— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) August 6, 2019
Benkert, 24, joined the Falcons in 2018 as an undrafted free agent out of Virginia and was impressive enough during an erratic preseason to earn a spot on the practice squad. He spent the 2018 season there but figured to be a stronger challenger for Schaub this time around, given that the veteran is aging and on a contract Atlanta can move on from fairly easily. Benkert’s first preseason effort saw him make some impressive throws, move well in the pocket, and otherwise make the best possible first impression before a toe injury late in the game led to him being sidelined.
We had feared the injured reserve outcome based on that, but it took a while for us to learn that it was going to happen. Now Benkert is shelved for the 2019 season, which leaves Schaub as the odds-on favorite to have the job again.
The injury is a huge bummer for Benkert, but it’s likely to led to him getting the backup gig a year from now, in an odd way. The Falcons have seemed loathe to nudge Schaub out of his job and placing Benkert on the practice squad after his big game might have led to him being poached by a QB-needy team. Next year, Schaub’s guaranteed money is virtually nonexistent because the team essentially has an option year on his contract, allowing them to move on and elevate Benkert to the gig. After another year of experience, even if it’s unfortunately not playing experience, he’ll be the easy favorite to snag that job behind Ryan in 2020.
Either way, it sucks that we won’t get to see Benkert make his big push this year, and we’ll hope he’s healthy and here to be Matt Ryan’s backup over the long haul.