After three seasons of being a backup to one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, Ryan Mallett might be headed to a new team, as the New England Patriots seem to be promoting someone instead of him while trying to trade the previous #2, generating a lot of interest among quite a few teams in the league.
Mallett has only four games with a total of four pass attempts in his NFL career, but that doesn’t mean many view him as a borderline starter. Sometimes talent just waits for an opportunity, like it did for Tom Brady when Drew Bledsoe went down, or for Aaron Rodgers who was a backup to Brett Favre for what seems like forever before finally getting a chance to lead the Packers.
So who would want Mallett, who last started a game when he was playing for Arkansas? The Dallas Cowboys come to mind. Tony Romo is getting older and has had a surgery or two done on his back. Brandon Weeden is a decent backup, and so was Kyle Orton. But maybe Mallett is someone they can have sitting on the sidelines knowing he could become a starter one day? Jerry Jones is an Arkansas man, if anyone forgot.
The first team anyone is thinking about has to be the Rams. Without Bradford to start, Shaun Hill looks like the next best thing on their roster. Unless everyone is wrong, Mallett is probably better and would be a significant upgrade. The Houston Texans probably think Ryan Fitzpatrick will be a good enough starter and that Case Keenum or Tom Savage can back him up. But Fitzpatrick’s history suggests otherwise, and Mallett could find himself eventually starting if he lands into that situation.
Other teams that might have an interest in Mallett will be those trying to improve their backup situations: The Green Bay Packers with Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien. Aaron Rodgers went down last season and almost cost the team a playoff spto, so Mallett might be an improvement on what they have right now. The same goes for the San Francisco 49ers, who have Blaine Gabbert to back up a read option quarterback.
One thing worth remembering about Mallett and backup unknowns in general: Sometimes not playing at all improves someone’s reputation. Matt Flynn had one cameo that wowed the NFL in 2011 and since then he’s been struggling to hold on to a job.