The Jacksonville Jaguars are just over a month away from going on the clock as the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. They will choose Trevor Lawrence, and the future of the franchise begins then. In the meantime, they have a decision to make with Gardner Minshew, the sixth-round pick who garnered a cult following when he seized the starting job in 2019 following Nick Foles' broken collarbone.
Minshew was a blast that first year, but struggled in his second season at the helm. At this point, the Washington State product projects as a low-end starter and a high-end backup rather than a league-average starter. The Jags could keep him on to back up Lawrence, but likely want to go with a more reliable option who could also help bring Lawrence along as a quasi-QB coach rather than the inconsistent Minshew and his two years of NFL experience. Thus, Ian Rapoport tweeted the franchise was taking trade calls for the man who spurred Minshew Mania.
Our national perception of Minshew is far greater than his quality of play on the field, mostly because he is a Southern sex icon with a mullet now and a fun personality who clearly loves to play football. Uncle Rico incarnated, some are saying. But he does have something to offer as a backup quarterback with enough variance and potential to be intriguing to teams looking to bring in a wild card as a backup in exchange for a late-round pick. It wouldn't be too pricey by any means. So here are four such teams.
Why not? The Bears and Jags did a deal last year when Chicago traded for Nick Foles, so they're comfortable with one another as deal partners. The Bears are also out of the Russell Wilson sweepstakes and will have Andy Dalton and Foles duke it out in training camp for the starting gig. Minshew isn't as consistent as either of them and isn't a prototypical pocket quarterback like the pair he would compete with in this hypothetical, but Chicago loves its cult heroes and would welcome Minshew with open arms.
Ultimately, Minshew at his worst would hurt the team more than Dalton or Foles, but at his best could be just as good if not better than either. Plus, his Southern charm in the Windy City would be great content. Which is ultimately the goal. Right?
New Orleans Saints
if Sean Payton fully believes he can make it work with Taysom Hill, a quarterback known more for running and catching the ball rather than passing, why not try to make it work with a guy who has actually started more than four NFL games under center? Many of the points made above resonate here. The big winner of the Saints' quarterback competition between Hill and Jameis Winston will probably be the opposing teams on New Orleans' schedule, and it wouldn't cost much monetarily or draft pick-wise to bring in Minshew. No stone should be left unturned in the pursuit for Drew Brees' successor.
New England Patriots
The Patriots signed Cam Newton and a whole host of new guys to rebuild the roster after a down season, but the only backup quarterback on the roster right now is Jarrett Stidham, who has shown absolutely nothing on the field so far in his career. Bill Belichick likes to take fliers on cheap players and Minshew certainly will be. Newton has a lengthy list of injury issues that could reappear at any time and New England spent too much money in free agency this year to suffer a losing season because Newton gets hurt. Plus, it would be hilarious to see Minshew's mane on the sideline next to Belichick.
You know who would absolutely love Minshew and his whole schtick? The fine people of Cleveland. The Browns do not necessarily need Minshew, given Baker Mayfield has been consistent over his first three seasons and is the undisputed starter for the foreseeable future. But in a circumstance where the Jaguars are willing to give Minshew away for a sixth or a seventh-round pick, Cleveland may as well dive in. They know he can play, even if it's not terribly well most of the time, and he would fit right in with the Dawg Pound. Arguably the most fun destination.