The regular season marks the culmination of an extensive investigation into who your team will be that year. By this point, you’ve gone through free agency, the draft, training camp, and the preseason. You feel good in your decisions insofar as you can create clarity without having played meaningful games. But there are still plenty of uncertainties that remain, whether at the start of the regular season or the end, and new ones continually develop over time.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: ‘Succession plans’ at the quarterback position are highly overrated and a waste of resources.
Explanation: It is a great luxury for a team to have a franchise quarterback, as it is the only time during which they don’t have to be actively looking for one. But there comes a time at the end of that quarterback’s career where you have to start thinking of the future, in theory, about who comes after him.
The most important thing to understand about succession plans is that the vast majority of them fail. We only refer to the successful plans as succession plans, the Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers template. We forget about the ones that don’t work. The Denver Broncos drafted Brock Osweiler to groom behind Peyton Manning when they signed him knowing Manning would only have a few years. How did that work out?
The topic was doing the rounds yesterday that the Steelers have failed to have a succession plan for life after Ben Roethlisberger. Well, what were they supposed to do, exactly? Which quarterback right now are they supposed to have on the roster who would be starting next year, that they could have realistically acquired? The worst draft pick they’ve had without trading up in years is 17, and they traded that for Minkah Fitzpatrick.
You don’t swing for a quarterback just for the sake of taking a shot if you don’t really believe he is the future. Especially if you still believe that you are in a championship window with your franchise quarterback. You’re just wasting resources. You’re more likely to find your next quarterback by going through a lean year or two rather than making do with the best guy available at the time.
The biggest issue with not being prepared for the future after your franchise quarterback is the expenditure of peak years for your other players. If the Steelers don’t have a Super Bowl-capable quarterback soon, that’s it for Cameron Heyward, for example.
With a promising quarterback prospect in tow, at least you have a chance if you have enough talent around him, and with another couple linemen, the Steelers could have that. Remember Osweiler? He did play during that final season when they ended up winning the Super Bowl, when Manning was a shadow of his former self. He went 5-2 and threw 10 touchdowns to six interceptions with two game-winning drives. If you don’t even have that, then you’re just wasting time. And maybe you get a Patrick Mahomes instead of a Paxton Lynch. You’re not going to find a franchise quarterback without looking; that’s the only guarantee.