The Brett Hundley Backup Era has begun for the Green Bay Packers.
On Friday afternoon, the Indianapolis Colts announced they had signed Scott Tolzien to be the backup to star quarterback Andrew Luck.
That means Hundley, a fifth-round draft pick last year who came on strong as training camp progressed, will be the backup to Aaron Rodgers in 2016.
“Scott Tolzien did a great job for us,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said during the Scouting Combine. “I can’t tell you how much he was a part of not only our quarterback room but our locker room. His work ethic is exceptional.”
Without switching gears, McCarthy went from talking about Tolzien, the NFL’s 2014 leader in preseason passer rating, to Hundley, the NFL’s 2015 leader in preseason passer rating.
“I’m excited about Brett,” McCarthy continued. “I think if you go back and watch him play in the preseason, it speaks volumes. He did a heck of a job. He’s really come on fast. He’s doing what you’re supposed to do. He’s taken every note from Aaron and Scott. He has really dove into the offense. Very bright young man. Very athletic. Boy, I’m glad we have him.”
The decision came down to money and opportunity. In Green Bay, Tolzien, with his tremendous work ethic and underrated combination of arm strength and athleticism, would have had to fend off Hundley to be the No. 2. In Indianapolis, it's a no-brainer, with Tolzien stepping in for recently retired Matt Hasselbeck. Moreover, the Colts opened the day $22.23 million below the salary cap. The Packers were $19.49 million below the cap, though that didn’t reflect Nick Perry’s one-year, $5 million contract.
Hundley, a spread-style quarterback at UCLA, looked like a fish out of water throughout the offseason practices and the start of training camp. On most dropbacks, he took the checkdown rather than pushing the ball down the field or using his athleticism. Then, it seemed like everything started to click. Hundley had an excellent preseason, completing 69.2 percent of his passes for 630 yards, with seven touchdowns, one interception and a rating of 129.7.
“He just got comfortable and was out there making plays,” McCarthy said. “Plays very systematic as far as staying in clean plays when he was given a run-pass option. Brett Hundley has a very bright future.”
The Packers have Ryan Williams under contract as their third quarterback. Williams, who had a predraft visit with Green Bay last year after barely playing at the University of Miami, was signed to a futures contract at the end of the regular season. Nonetheless, the Packers probably will have to tap into one of the deeper quarterback classes in memory.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.