Four NFL teams lost quarterbacks to injury during Week 10. Ben Roethlisberger was just the most recent instance, as the Steelers quarterback went down with what is being termed as an “unusual shoulder injury.”
Roethlisberger joins the likes of Michael Vick, Alex Smith and Jay Cutler, all suffering from mild to serious concussions, on the list of injured signal-callers around the league. That leaves the Eagles, 49ers, Bears and Steelers relying on, for the most part, unproven backups to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Fortunately, there is one quarterback currently out of work that could adequately fill the void in the interim.
David Garrard is still floating around the free-agent market, and has been since the beginning of the season while rehabbing a minor knee injury. Sure, he hasn’t taken a regular season snap since the 2010 season, but Garrard was also slated to be the Dolphins starting quarterback before the season.
A solid training camp and start to the preseason had many in Miami believing that Garrard could be the stopgap between Matt Moore and rookie Ryan Tannehill. But his knee ailment quickly derailed that notion. The freak injury doesn’t discount Garrard’s ability, though. He still possesses the talent and experience to lead an NFL offense onto the field, and he’s more than capable of finding success in the passing game.
The Dolphins obviously aren’t an option anymore, as Tannehill has established himself as the starter, at least for the near future. But with so many injured quarterbacks, Garrard could provide some needy teams with relief at the most important position on the field.
While the Eagles at 3-6 may not be considered “contenders,” and therefore better off giving rookie Nick Foles something of an extended look, the other three listed are very much still in the playoff, and even Super Bowl, hunt.
Byron Leftwich is not the answer in Pittsburgh, even if he’s been in the system for a few years. He’s older, slower than and not as accurate as he once was. And with two games against the Ravens coming in the next three weeks, Garrard could offer a versatile veteran presence to a team very much reliant on Roethlisberger to direct the offense.
As for San Francisco, they’re not as desperately in need of a replacement with Colin Kaepernick already getting regular-season reps at times this season. But seeing as Kaepernick is in just his second season, and still a relatively raw quarterback, the 49ers could at least give the veteran option a thought.
The team that might be able to use a player like Garrard the most, though, would be the Bears. Chicago struggled to a 1-5 finish in their final six games without Cutler last season, and they don’t want to suffer the same fate this year. With one of the best defenses in football and after jumping out to a 7-1 start, the Bears are still dangerous and need someone capable under center to hold them over until playoff time. Jason Campbell is at least competent, something he finally proved in Oakland last season, but Garrard has the playoff experience and the mental toughness that could squeak out a few more wins for a Chicago team very much in Super Bowl contention.
At 34, and with just nine seasons — five full — on his legs, Garrard is still a skilled quarterback with the talent readily available to lead a team to some wins. His next place of employment may hinge on the health of the aforementioned, though. And with just six weeks left in this season, teams may be weary of bringing on a fresh face.
Weary or not, he still might be any of these teams best bet at continuing their championship dreams.
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Photo via Facebook/David Garrard