Sean Payton: Use of third quarterback will vary by team

Broncos hold early season practice session at Dove Valley
Getty Images

The NFL brought back the emergency quarterback rule this week, with specific restrictions that could make it something other than a no-brainer for NFL teams to use.

On Thursday, Broncos coach Sean Payton explained that, given the restrictions on its use, not every team will take advantage of the new third quarterback rule.

“If you carry three on your 53[-man roster], you get a [third on] game day,” Payton told reporters. “Let’s say what happened to San Francisco was a once in every seven year occurrence. Each team will then have to decide if they want to continue to have two and get an additional player other than a quarterback on their 53. Everyone has three in the building — a lot of times on the practice squad. I think team-by-team, it will vary.”

It’s a key point. To have an emergency quarterback on game days, teams need to devote a spot on the 53-man roster to that third quarterback. Will teams that currently carry two quarterbacks give up a player at another position in order to have a third quarterback?

Although it’s hardly ideal to see a team lose both quarterbacks and to have literally none during a game, most coaches would say that, if in a given game the third quarterback is suddenly thrown into the fire, the cause is already lost.

And while the 49ers got plenty of mileage from their QB3 as of Week One, Brock Purdy wasn’t third on the depth chart when he was pressed into service. The idea of the break-glass option having to play when two others have been the focal point for preparation  doesn’t bode well for the team that loses the starter and backup in the same game.

Then there’s the restriction on the use of the third quarterback. He plays only if the other two are injured or ejected, and he must exit as soon as one of them is cleared to return. Why not just let the third quarterback play whenever the coaching staff decides to put him on the field?

Also, what if the third quarterback enters after the first two are injured and immediately catches fire? The second quarterback might end up having, for example, one of the longest concussion evaluations in league history while the third quarterback slices and dices a defense that wasn’t ready to face him.

It’s better to eliminate any temptation for chicanery. If a team is going to carry a third quarterback on the 53-man roster in order to use him on game day, don’t apply restrictions to his ability to enter the game.

With those restrictions, there’s a chance that plenty of teams will decide to continue to take their chances with only two quarterbacks on game day.

7 responses to “Sean Payton: Use of third quarterback will vary by team

  1. If Russell is your starting QB then I’d have 3 on my roster. Can you use your emergency QB if your first two just plain suck and aren’t injured?

  2. Another advantage to having Taysom Hill on your team, especially considering he is journeyman level at the least and starter quality at some of the multiple positions he plays, including special teams.

  3. Makes sense that teams will make different choices, but there is a significant part of the options that was not discussed. Yes the third QB would take up a spot on the 53 man roster and the designated third qb is only eligible in case of injury. But that’s only if he is not one of the 47 players active on game day. The restrictions placed on a third string qb during a game, as the 48th available player, all go away if he is included in the 47 that are active for the game. Again, each team will treat it differently, but there are more choices to be made that what are noted above.

  4. Sean Payton would be dumb enough to be left with a running back playing QB and the complaining about it later.

  5. so now the guy with a worse resume than Mike McCarthy (at least McCarthy developed his HOF QB), speaks for all 32 teams?

  6. This rule really won’t change much. Teams will still roll the dice with 2 active QBs if the 3rd takes up a spot on the 53 man roster. Just make an exception for an emergency QB that doesn’t take up a roster spot.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.