QB Brett Hundley: Let Him Walk or Trade Him?

QB Brett Hundley: Let Him Walk or Trade Him?

The Packers reportedly “came close” to trading backup quarterback Brett Hundley during Friday’s second and third rounds of the NFL Draft, according to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky.

Given the original investment in Hundley – the Packers traded up 19 spots in 2015’s fifth round to draft the UCLA quarterback – it’s no surprise they’re looking for a return on their investment. The consensus on Hundley before the draft was that his talented could have warranted a selection in the third round.

Ultimately, the Packers and Brett Hundley likely determined last year exactly what Hundley’s future might look like. Given two choices – be a career backup or try to make it as a starting quarterback on another team – it appears as if the quarterback wants to become a starter.

Hundley’s contract with the Packers ends after the 2018-2019 season, so if a trade is to happen, it will probably take place by the end of next year’s draft. If Hundley plays out the final season of his rookie contract and leaves in free agency, it would delay the compensatory draft pick until the 2020 NFL Draft.

What can the Packers reasonably expect as compensation in return for Hundley? Let’s examine.

We’ll take the compensatory pick

If the Packers are unable to trade Hundley prior to his rookie contract ending, Green Bay will likely receive a compensatory pick in return.

The compensatory formula is complicated and secret, but the Packers used it to their great advantage over Ted Thompson’s tenure.

Over the last few seasons, there have been two high-end quarterbacks who reached the free agent market whose teams were eligible to receive compensatory picks for their departures:

  • Mike Glennon, who left Tampa Bay for Chicago this offseason.
  • Brock Osweiler, who left the Broncos to sign with the Texans in the 2016 offseason.

In both instances, the Buccaneers and Broncos’ compensatory picks for losing their quarterbacks in free agency are third round selections.

If Hundley were to leave, the Packers would receive the compensatory pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. It’s never too early to start looking at prospects. Jon says it’s way too early to start looking at prospects, but he's wrong.

Nevermind, I’d like to trade Hundley

So you’ve decided that you’d rather have a sure thing now instead of waiting for Hundley to leave as a free agent? Great, let’s take a look at what the trade market could look like.

After next season, we can expect the following teams to have a need for a starting quarterback:

  • Buffalo Bills. They’ll have a new front office shortly, and Tyrod Taylor, Cardale Jones and Nathan Peterman have done nothing to show they’re long-term game changers.
  • New York Jets. They’re expected to begin 2017 with Josh McCown as their starting quarterback. Josh McCown started last year for the Browns.
  • Cleveland Browns. Maybe almost-Packers quarterback DeShone Kizer will pan out, maybe he won’t.
  • Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags recently picked up Blake Bortles’ fifth-year option, but it’s no sure thing they’ll give him another year as a starter if he doesn’t improve.
  • Denver Broncos. We’ll probably know by the end of this year whether Paxton Lynch or Trevor Siemian are long-term answers at quarterback.
  • Washington Redskins. Kirk Cousins isn’t happy, the Redskins won’t pay him what he’s asking for, and Dan Snyder's a weird owner. Who knows what will happen here. Actually, the Packers should call Snyder today and offer Hundley for three firsts. Who knows what could happen?
  • Minnesota Vikings. Sam Bradford’s contract will be up after this season, and Teddy Bridgewater likely will miss his second straight season with a knee injury from 2016.
  • Arizona Cardinals. Carson Palmer is old and oft-injured. It was surprising they passed on the quarterbacks from this draft class.
  • San Francisco 49ers. The Niners new organization borrowed the Bears’ top two QBs (Hoyer and Barkley) for 2017 while they figure out who their long-term starter will be.

We can reasonably assume the Packers will not deal Hundley to an NFC North team – goodbye, Minnesota – and it’s highly unlikely they’d consider trading him to either the Redskins, Cardinals or 49ers. That leaves our list narrowed down to the Bills, Jets, Browns, Jaguars and Broncos.

Next, let’s take a look at the recent trades in NFL history involving quarterbacks:

2001: Matt Hasselbeck, GB to SEA

GB receives: 10th overall pick in 2001, 72nd overall pick in 2001
SEA receives: Hasselbeck, 17th overall pick in 2001

2007: Matt Schaub, ATL to HOU

ATL receives: 8th overall pick in 2007, 39th overall pick in 2007, 48th overall pick in 2008
HOU receives: Schaub, 10th overall pick in 2007

2009: Matt Cassel, NE to KC

NE receives: 34th overall pick in 2009
KC receives: Cassel, LB Mike Vrabel

2011: Kevin Kolb, PHI to ARI

PHI receives: CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, 51st overall pick in 2012
ARI receives: Kolb

Of these four high-profile backups, only Kolb was traded by himself. The rest included a swap of picks (Hasselbeck and Schaub) or an additional veteran (Vrabel in the Cassel trade).  

If the Packers and a potential suitor for Hundley view him in the same category as these four, then it’s likely the range for a draft pick in return is a second-round selection, between the 33rd and 50th selection.

Where do the Packers go from here?

Green Bay’s road to trading Hundley requires two major pieces to fall into place within the walls of Lambeau Field:

  1. Hundley has an impressive 2017 preseason. Outside of new secondary pieces Kevin King, Josh Jones and the returning Davon House, no player will have more pressure to perform in the preseason than Hundley. He missed most of the 2016 preseason with an injury, allowing Joe Callahan to burst onto the scene.
  2. Green Bay identifies a replacement for Hundley. If the Packers are not confident in either Callahan or undrafted free agent Taysom Hill, it’s hard to see them trading Hundley before the start of the 2018 NFL Draft. If Aaron Rodgers goes down again for an extended time, Matt Flynn won’t be there to bail the Packers out.

Outside of the NFL, some external factors need to break just right, too:

  1. Hope the Chargers, Steelers, Giants or Saints make a bold move for a rookie quarterback. These four teams have aging veteran quarterbacks. If one or more were to select one in the first round, it’d have an impact on the teams who have limited talent at the quarterback position to acquire a potential starter.
  2. Hope the 2018 rookie quarterback class underperforms in college. If Green Bay fans are bored on Saturday, they’d be well off keeping tabs on UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Wyoming’s Josh Allen and USC’s Sam Darnold. These three college quarterbacks are expected to be among the first players selected in next year’s draft. If one or more of these quarterbacks falls out of favor with scouts, it would drive up the price for Hundley.
  3. Hope a team sees promise in Hundley. Each year, there are three or four quarterbacks selected in the draft who fit the mold of a developmental quarterback. Have the Packers turned Hundley into enough of a finished product that they’d offer a solid return?
  4. Hope the Bills, Jets, Browns, Jaguars and Broncos have a second round pick to deal. The Browns seem like the most logical trade partner, given their massive backlog of draft picks in the future. The Bills are currently building a new front office, and it’s possible the Jaguars and Jets will be under new management by this time next season.

While a cliche, only time will tell what the Packers will do with Hundley.

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