The Falcons had a three man competition for the backup quarterback gig heading into 2020, with Matt Ryan comfortably entrenched as the starter and Matt Schaub, Kurt Benkert, and Danny Etling in the mix. It’s beyond obvious that a team isn’t going to keep four quarterbacks, so my expectation was that at least one of Benkert or Etling would hit the practice squad while one of Schaub or Benkert won the backup job.
Etling could still be back, but the Falcons are cutting him for the time being, leaving Benkert and Schaub to duke it out for the backup job.
Falcons releasing quarterback Danny Etling https://t.co/14fgo08oNp— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) August 17, 2020
Etling was claimed off waivers last summer with Benkert hitting injured reserve, and served as the team’s practice squad quarterback more or less throughout the 2019 season, briefly joining the active roster to back up Schaub in Week 8 when Ryan went down with an injury of his own. Etling’s scrambling ability and arm made him a fun developmental prospect at minimum, but I did expect he’d be the longest shot to win the backup gig and this confirms that. His talent should ensure he catches on a team’s practice squad, even if it’s not Atlanta.
Now we get to see whether Schaub or Benkert wins the gig. Benkert has a lot of promise and is a player the Falcons clearly like, but Schaub is an established veteran who played well in his lone spot start last year and experience matters a great deal in an unsettled year like this. I’m hoping Benkert can win the job this year, but we’ll see what’s ahead for both men, and we wish Etling well.