The situation for the team, which has not had to worry about its quarterback position since 1988, is bleaker than it seemed at the end of the 2005 season. General manager Ted Thompson has not signed a veteran quarterback during free agency as insurance and the chance that he could draft a quarterback with the No. 5 pick overall in April's draft is becoming less and less far-fetched.
So just where do the Packers go in the coming months with regard to their quarterback position? Here are some thoughts:
Whenever Favre makes up his mind about retirement at this point is irrelevant. The Packers, constructing their roster for 2006, have to focus on a new plan under a new coach, Mike McCarthy. If Favre comes back, it helps the quarterback position, though it is far from stable.
The likelihood of Favre having a poor season like last is greater than those years he had during the middle of his career when he had a great team around him. With a new staff coming in and a young roster, even Favre has to be doubtful that the 2006 Packers can succeed to the high levels that he has experienced over his career.
All the Packers can do now is worry about the other quarterbacks. That is a crisis they have failed to address and now time is against them.
The Packers should have acted quickly on a veteran free agent quarterback Jeff Garcia, among a weak pool of those available, to strengthen the position for at least one season. Garcia, who signed with the Eagles, would have been the most perfect short-term fit of those available. After him, no one really matches what the Packers' need – an able veteran schooled in the West Coast system, accepting of a potential backup role by agreeing to a one- or two-year deal for a minimal amount.
Instead, the Packers have signed first-year quarterback Brian Wrobel of Winona St. this off-season, and inked Colts' practice squad quarterback Tom Arth yesterday. Arth played collegiately at John Carroll University, a Division III school.
Based on their backgrounds, Wrobel and Arth are not the type of quarterbacks who are ready to become backups or even No. 3's on the active roster this year. They are more of the practice squad and "camp arm" variety, which leaves the Packers waiting until late in the summer to see if any teams release veteran quarterbacks. For now, that is all they can really rely on.
Then there is the draft, which Thompson could use to put another twist on the roster like he did a year ago when he surprisingly took Rodgers in the first round.
Rodgers will get his chance some day, but if the Packers really saw something special in him, they probably would have played him a year ago when Favre struggled. Reality is that Rodgers has not stood out in practice, but could become the type of quarterback the Packers envision. Waiting for that to happen though is no reason to pass up on a franchise-type quarterback in this year's draft.
If defensive end Mario Williams of N.C. State is available at No. 5, he should be a lock to join the Packers. If he is not there, a quarterback might be the best option depending on how picks one through four fall. The choice of prospects Matt Leinart, Vince Young, or Jay Cutler could be made for trade considerations, value, or just plain out of need. The Packers need quarterbacks!
In 2004, the San Diego Chargers traded for Phillip Rivers in the first round of the draft when they had an up-and-coming young quarterback in Drew Brees as their starter. Brees kept his job and flourished with the challenge of another young quarterback waiting in the wings. He became the most sought-after quarterback in this year's pool of free agents, eventually signing with the Saints. The Chargers perceived indecision between the two quarterbacks drove Brees away, though, he led them to a 12-4 record in 2004 and a 9-7 record in 2005.
In the Chargers' case, drafting a quarterback in the first round with one already in place did not seem to have a large impact on the team's fortunes. Like the Packers, they were 4-12 in 2003 with several issues to address. They managed to build a winning team in spite of a quarterback controversy.
The top three quarterbacks in this year's draft will be debated over the next month, but if Thompson sticks to his "value-first" philosophy, a quarterback could be the pick in the first round. Not only would it push Rodgers, but it would also give the team some quality depth at a position where it is desperately needed. At this time, a veteran does not look like an option to do that.
Editor's note: Matt Tevsh is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.