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Free Agent Focus: Quarterback

January 23rd, 2012
Getty Images/K.C. Cox

Chris Redman

The Falcons have to make a decision with their backup quarterback this off-season. Chris Redman is a prospective free agent, and they will have to determine whether he’s worth bringing back. Redman has been solid reserve for the Falcons, but with a new offensive coordinator coming into the fold and him on the verge of turning 35, it may be the right time to move in a new direction.

It seemed like the Falcons were hopeful that John Parker Wilson would develop into the clear-cut choice for the No. 2 position by now, but Wilson showed minimal progress this past summer. So little that he was cut by the team and kept on the practice squad for most of the season. If the Falcons saw Wilson as the eventual backup to Ryan, it’s very unlikely they would have risked losing him to waivers last summer.

So that means that if the Falcons want to address their backup quarterback situation, they are likely to look elsewhere. Two options that immediately jump to mind are Luke McCown and Trent Edwards. What both players have in common is experience in Dirk Koetter’s offense. McCown had a disappointingly short stint as the Jaguars starter this year before being benched by Week 3 in favor of rookie Blaine Gabbert. But he has been a Jaguar since 2009 after getting traded there by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Edwards was picked by the Jaguars in 2010 after the Buffalo Bills cut him, and spent this past summer with the Oakland Raiders before being cut loose.

Neither player has really shown that they are better than Redman in recent years, but a good strategy for the Falcons would be to sign both players and have them compete directly for the No. 2 job. Unlike Redman, they won’t need to be taught a new system and their experience can help facilitate Ryan’s knowledge of the system as well. And one imagines that via the competition, the better of the two would emerge and in theory should be as competent as Redman would be.

One of the issues I have with Redman is that I think he is perfectly content to being the backup here in Atlanta, and collecting his $3 million or so paycheck. While people think that he could and should get looks by other teams, I don’t think there are any teams that are viewing him as a potential starter, just a backup with the same role/function he had here in Atlanta. And personally, I don’t think a team’s backup should be content. I’d much rather have someone that has some desire to be the starter and therefore will do everything in his power to try and push the starter, even when he has no realistic chance of landing said gig (like here in Atlanta).

Redman is going to be 35, and the end of his career is right around the corner. He should be chomping at the bit to try and get one more chance to be a starter elsewhere. If Redman had the previously mentioned mentality, the Falcons would have virtually no chance of re-signing him. But I don’t get that vibe from him. It’s somewhat a Catch-22, if the Falcons can re-sign Redman then they should not want to, and if they cannot, then they should want to.

I don’t know whether or not Edwards or McCown have such a mentality, but given their relative youth (29 and 30, respectively), I assume they are probably a bit hungrier.

What the Falcons do with the fourth arm in camp is up to them. They could give Wilson another shot, or they could look at other options in the draft. But they certainly should be looking into developing somewhat long-term that can be a backup to Ryan.

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