The implementation of a new CBA will bring a host of minor changes to the NFL as we know it. Many of these changes will impact the way front offices and coaching staffs operate but one that has a direct impact on game day is that third string quarterbacks will no longer be designated for “emergency” use only. Going forward, third quarterbacks will be part of the active roster.
What will be interesting to see is how NFL teams decide to use this extra roster spot. The immediate effect is that the emergency designation is removed from the third quarterback but the roster spot isn’t limited to the quarterback position. The Indianapolis Colts have made a habit of carrying just two quarterbacks on their roster, the durability of Peyton Manning affords them that luxury. A team like the Colts could continue with that strategy and dress a player at another position that otherwise would have been inactive.
What does it mean for the Lions? Probably not much in the near future. Matthew Stafford may prove himself to be the franchise quarterback he was drafted to be but the Lions area still a long way off from the Indianapolis Colts. It remains to be seen what happens with Drew Stanton once free agency begins but conventional wisdom suggests he will be back with the Lions. They will certainly dress three quarterbacks as long as they have three on the roster.
Those plans could change should Stanton find himself with the opportunity to grab a primary backup role with another team. Do the Lions chase an alternative that they would be comfortable seeing the field in a pinch or do they go after a practice squad-type quarterback they intend to develop at a slower pace while using the active-roster spot to add depth to a weaker position?
The additional active roster spot actually gives teams a lot of flexibility should they choose to take advantage of it beyond simply using it on a third quarterback. An extra body in a position group hobbled by injuries could give a team a big boost rather than having to deactivate a player that may or may not be able to contribute out of fear. The extra spot could allow a coaching staff to give a star player a shot to play while having an extra body ready to go if needed.
The removal of the emergency quarterback makes for an interesting case to follow as each team decides how to use it.