Is it too early to declare Joe Callahan, a Division III college standout, an NFL-quality quarterback? I don’t think so. After three preseason games, he’s completed 41 of his 64 throws (64%), for 356 yards – amounting to a QB rating of 89.1. He has good mobility, he can make all the throws, and his ability to throw on the run reminds one of Aaron Rodgers himself. He has shown great composure and steadiness – though he has the second most attempts of any quarterback this preseason, the rookie has committed zero turnovers.
Brett Hundley, on the other hand, is NFL-quality and then some. In addition to having all of the above-described attributes of Callahan, Hundley is 6’3” and 226 pounds, has a stronger arm, and he was a three-year starter at UCLA. He’s on a fast path to being a starting quarterback and one who can routinely lead a team into the playoffs.
The reality for Packers fans, however, is that Hundley is over-qualified for any job opening the team might have for him for the next half-dozen years or so.
Here’s the scenario I envision. Hundley, a fifth-round draft choice (later than expected), is in the second year of a four-year deal. He’s not going to become a starter, other than as a temporary fill-in, for the Packers. So long as he keeps developing, he’s going to be highly attractive to at least half the teams in the league.
The Packers will almost surely trade Hundley. The only questions being when and how much they’ll get for him. I doubt though, they would want to trade him until they have a reliable backup quarterback on board.
This is where Callahan comes in. It’s conceivable the Packers could have that much trust in Callahan by next season, when Hundley enters the third year of his four-year contract. By looking to trade Hundley at that time, the Packers can be patient, and only accept a tempting deal.
What might Hundley’s value be if he continues to develop? Brock Osweiler, after watching his Broncos win the Super Bowl from the bench, signed a four-year, $72 million contract with the Houston Texans. His contract terms were based almost entirely on his play as a starter for Denver’s final seven regular season games last year – he barely played in his first three-and-a half years in the pros. In that seven-game stretch, Osweiler completed 170 of 275 passes (61.8%) for 1,967 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions – which measured out to a pedestrian 86.4 quarterback rating. As a runner, he lumbered for 61 yards on 21 carries.
Hundley – brand new to the NFL – in his four 2015 preseason games completed 45 of 65 passes (69.2%) for 630 yards, seven touchdowns, and only one interception. His 129.6 quarterback rating led all quarterbacks. He’s looked great once again in the current training camp, though minor injuries have limited him to seven throws, five completions, and 67 yards in the three preseason games.
While we shouldn’t place too much stock in preseason statistics, Hundley also passes the eye test. He appears to have better accuracy, a similarly strong arm, more mobility, and better speed and agility than the now-wealthy Osweiler. He can’t match Osweiler’s 6’6 and 7/8” height, but who can?
If Hundley continues to develop, trading him is not out of the question. When Matt Hasselbeck was at a somewhat similar career point in 2001 as a Packers’ backup quarterback – with no chance of becoming the regular starter – the team traded him to the Seahawks. The Packers got the 10th pick in the first round and Seattle’s third round pick, but gave up its 17th pick in the first round (that 10th pick was wasted on defensive end Jamal Reynolds).
All of the above conjecture, however, is dependent on the Packers having a reliable backup quarterback to replace Hundley. Though Joe Callahan has made the most of his opportunities with the Packers, he has a lot of average qualities, such as his mobility and his arm strength – and his 6’1” height is less than desirable. He reminds me of Matt Flynn, and I don’t think he has as much potential as Scott Tolzien.
Tolzien makes for an interesting comparison. Like Callahan, he went undrafted. He also failed to win a roster spot with the Chargers or to get playing time with the 49ers. With the Packers, he only played in three games in 2013, and three more in 2015.
In March, the 28-year-old Tolzien signed up with Indianapolis. He did so knowing he would again be strictly a backup, behind a first overall draft choice, Andrew Luck. Tolzien realized, however, that being a dependable backup has its benefits – his 2-year contract with Indianapolis is worth $3.5 million, with $500,000 guaranteed. He’s having a decent preseason, completing 25 of 41, with a 94.3 quarterback rating.
I have hopes of Callahan becoming a long-term backup quarterback for the Packers. If and when the Packers view him as competent for that role – probably next year – that would clear the way for the Packers to initiate trade talks with teams most in need of a quality starting quarterback – and young Mr. Hundley could prove to be much more than that.