At quarterback, three’s a crowd?

The Minnesota Vikings kept three quarterbacks, but the league isn’t trending that way.

When the Vikings were in the preparation stage of cutting down to 53 players, there was the notion floating around that, to save a player the coaching staff didn’t want to risk losing in the final cuts, that they might go with just two quarterbacks.

Mike Zimmer was asked about it. Norv Turner was asked about it. It was a realistic possibility.

The reason why it was viewed as something that was breaking from the norm was that keeping two quarterbacks was something that only a couple of teams had the audacity to do just a few years ago.

But, like other trends that permeate the NFL, replication is the sincerest form of flattery and the idea of starting the regular season with just two QBs on the roster isn’t the arcane notion it once was.

When the dust settled over Labor Day weekend, a record 15 of the NFL’s 32 teams opted to enter the 2015 season with just two QBs on their active roster – Atlanta, Baltimore, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, New England, New York Giants, Oakland, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle.

It’s no longer merely an anomaly when teams keep two quarterbacks. It appears to even be more than a trend. It seems to be a growing sentiment among coaches and G.M.’s that two quarterbacks is enough.

The fact that the Vikings didn’t want to risk a roster spot on Taylor Heinicke speaks more to the value the team has placed on him as a potential commodity than a fear that they would see a repeat of the Tyler Thigpen incident – where the Vikings tried to slide Thigpen through to the practice squad only to see him claimed by Kansas City and eventually become the Chiefs’ starting quarterback.

On a weekend when the Vikings’ recent quarterbacking past was shelved – as 2013 starters Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman were all sent packing by the teams with which they were looking to get a fresh start – the Vikings remain somewhat old-school in their way of configuring their final roster.


The days of keeping three quarterbacks may not be necessarily going the way of the dinosaur, but the trend is pointing in that direction. It’s no longer a couple of teams that are heading into the regular season with just two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. It’s not even a handful. It’s almost half the league at this point and that number continues to grow.

The days of the developmental quarterback or keeping a veteran backup as a Plan B option may be coming to an end. It’s all part of the evolution of the game. Things change over time and change doesn’t always come overnight. This is a trend that has grown organically on its own. The Vikings haven’t reached that point yet, but it may only be a matter of time before nearly everybody in the NFL falls in line and when final rosters are determined, the days of automatically having three spots saved for quarterbacks may be nearing an end.


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