Emergency quarterbacks for all 32 NFL teams: Punters, high school QBs and more

NFL

The situation Kendall Hinton and the Denver Broncos were forced into Sunday was unprecedented in the NFL’s modern era.

Hinton, a practice-squad wide receiver, played quarterback against the New Orleans Saints. The result was a 31-3 loss to the Saints, with Hinton completing 1 of 9 passes for 13 yards.

The Broncos found themselves in this spot when quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles were removed from Saturday’s practice and told to isolate after being designated as high-risk close contacts to quarterback Jeff Driskel, who tested positive for COVID-19 last Thursday.

What if this happened in any of the other 31 locker rooms in the NFL? Who would fill in at quarterback? Here’s what we know:

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AFC EAST

Rookie Jake Fromm is the Bills’ emergency plan at quarterback. Buffalo has been a trendsetter on several occasions with COVID-19 precautionary measures, including Fromm’s practice routine. Fromm practices separately from the rest of the team and remains socially distant within the facility from quarterbacks Josh Allen, Matt Barkley and Davis Webb. With no preseason experience, it’s difficult to say how effective Fromm would be should the situation present itself, but Buffalo does have a plan in place. — Marcel Louis-Jacques


The Dolphins have two solid options, rookie wide receivers Malcolm Perry and Lynn Bowden Jr. Both players started at quarterback for at least one collegiate season, at Navy and Kentucky, respectively. The Dolphins have already had Perry handle some Wildcat snaps, and he would be likely be the favorite to run some sort of offense if disaster struck. Even though he ran a triple-option offense at Navy, Perry might get the nod because he completed 56% of his passes for over 1,000 passing yards, with seven touchdowns to three interceptions, coupled with over 2,000 rushing yards last season. — Cameron Wolfe


If Julian Edelman is healthy, he has shown that he’s capable of slinging it — just like during his days at Kent State. He has a perfect passer rating in his NFL career — 158.3. If Edelman isn’t available, the Patriots can turn to second-year receiver Jakobi Meyers, who was recruited as a quarterback at NC State before switching to wide receiver as a redshirt freshman in 2016. Meyers already has a TD pass this season, on his first career attempt. — Mike Reiss


Wide receiver Jeff Smith is the emergency QB. The Jets have three signal-callers on the active roster (Sam Darnold, Joe Flacco and James Morgan) and another on the practice squad (Mike White), so it would take a lot to get to Smith. He started his career at Boston College as a quarterback. As a freshman, he played nine games and completed 27 of 82 passes for 253 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. He switched to wide receiver as a sophomore. — Rich Cimini

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AFC NORTH

Punter Sam Koch. He’s a master of fake punts and field goals (he serves as Justin Tucker‘s holder as well). In his 15-year career, Koch is 7-for-7 for 82 yards and a passer rating of 115.5. He’s such a good passer he regularly throws to wide receivers during pregame warm-ups. “His ability to throw the ball is quite extraordinary,” former Ravens special-teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said of Koch three years ago. “Hopefully, he’ll never have to be an emergency quarterback, but I think he showed everybody how well he can throw the ball.” — Jamison Hensley


Kevin Hogan is the emergency backup. Yes, he’s technically a QB. But the Bengals have structured their roster so Hogan, who is third on the depth chart and officially on the practice squad, will never be a close contact with the other quarterbacks. So if he contracts the coronavirus or contact tracing knocks out the other two signal-callers, Hogan is expected to be unaffected. If the precautions are still not enough, wide receiver Alex Erickson could be a viable option. Erickson played quarterback in high school and threw for 37 touchdowns at Wisconsin’s Darlington High. — Ben Baby


Wide receiver Jarvis Landry would likely get the call for the Browns in such an event. Landry has two completions this season, including a 37-touchdown strike to Odell Beckham Jr. on a reverse pass. Landry joked he was sore the following week from throwing just that one pass. The lefty has four completions off trick plays in his NFL career, not including a 2-point conversion pass to QB Baker Mayfield two years ago. — Jake Trotter


With three healthy quarterbacks rostered and another one on the practice squad, the Steelers’ priority hasn’t been finding an emergency quarterback among its position skill players. Wide receiver Ryan Switzer held that role last season and wasn’t too far removed from playing when both Ben Roethlisberger and Mason Rudolph suffered injuries early in the season. But Switzer was cut after training camp. Tight end Zach Gentry was a highly touted quarterback recruit out of high school before switching positions at Michigan and is a likely candidate to fill the role. He’s currently on injured reserve after suffering a knee injury against the Jaguars and will be out for at least three weeks. — Brooke Pryor

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AFC SOUTH

Wide receiver Randall Cobb would be the most likely candidate. The Texans signed quarterback Josh McCown, who is not in the building every day, but if it got to the point that all three quarterbacks (Deshaun Watson, AJ McCarron and McCown) are out, Cobb started four games at quarterback during his freshman season at Kentucky. Cobb under center would look a little bit different than the Texans’ trio of quarterbacks: He’s a left-handed passer. — Sarah Barshop


Colts coach Frank Reich is staying hush-hush on the emergency quarterback, saying it’s “something that I probably won’t share here.” It was punter Pat McAfee in the past, but if there was a guess, it would be wide receiver Zach Pascal. “We obviously have a depth chart of emergency quarterbacks,” Reich said. “That’s lined up. I will tell you this, we have an emergency quarterback wristband that’s already made. We take it to every game — we have it ready, so it’s at every game and we’ve talked through that stuff. I’ll just leave it at that.” — Mike Wells


Wide receiver Laviska Shenault is the emergency quarterback. The Jaguars’ plan for the rookie was to use him in the backfield in addition to lining up outside. The emergence of fellow rookie James Robinson at running back altered the plan a bit, and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden hasn’t used Shenault as much in the backfield. Still, Shenault has gotten some snaps at Wildcat QB. He hasn’t thrown a pass yet but does have 33 catches for 354 yards and one TD and 12 carries for 60 yards. — Mike DiRocco


The Titans have taken the designated-survivor route by having practice squad quarterback DeShone Kizer isolated from the team but taking part in video meetings. Kizer also practices separately to ensure the Titans would have a QB available. The Titans have used Cameron Batson and Derrick Henry as QBs in the Wildcat formation as well. Henry had a touchdown pass to Corey Davis in Tennessee’s postseason victory over the Ravens last season. Another option would be safety Kevin Byard, who was a high school quarterback. Byard also completed a 66-yard touchdown pass to Dane Cruikshank on a fake punt in 2018. — Turron Davenport

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AFC WEST

The Broncos had to play a game Sunday, 24 hours after all of their quarterbacks were pulled off the practice field amid COVOD-19 contact-tracing concerns. They opened the game with running back Phillip Lindsay taking a direct snap and used running back Royce Freeman with Lindsay in that role throughout the game. For just over half of their offensive snaps they used practice squad wide receiver Kendall Hinton, who played quarterback in three of his seasons at Wake Forest. But with a hastily assembled game plan, combined with the fact Hinton hadn’t thrown a pass since a 2018 game against Clemson — or taken a single snap at quarterback in training camp or in any practice with the Broncos — Hinton was 1-of-9 for 13 yards with two interceptions as the Broncos gained 112 yards overall. It was the team’s lowest output since a 1992 loss at Washington. — Jeff Legwold


An option beyond practice squad quarterback Matt Moore is tight end Travis Kelce, who played some at quarterback in college at Cincinnati. Kelce was mostly a runner when he played QB and threw just one pass, though it went for 39 yards and a touchdown. He is 1-of-3 passing with the Chiefs with an interception and almost had a TD pass to Patrick Mahomes during a Week 12 game against the Bucs. — Adam Teicher


The Raiders would likely turn to their Man of a Thousand Faces, practice squad receiver Rico Gafford. When he’s not on the active roster, Gafford transforms into the opponent’s top skill-position player. For example, he has played the parts of Lamar Jackson, Antonio Brown and Tyreek Hill in recent years for the Raiders’ “show” offense. Why not translate that into a running quarterback in an emergency? Gafford is a converted defensive back, but he’s fast. Really fast. He clocked an unofficial time of 4.19 seconds in the 40-yard dash at his pro day in Wyoming in 2018. If he had to replace Derek Carr, Nathan Peterman and Marcus Mariota, Gafford would no doubt be on the run for the Raiders. — Paul Gutierrez


Chargers coach Anthony Lynn won’t discuss the emergency quarterback position for competitive reasons, but running back Austin Ekeler might be an option in the Wildcat. Practice squad running back Darius Bradwell, who played college ball at Tulane, was a high school quarterback. In his final two seasons at Godby High School in Tallahassee, Florida, he had 2,427 passing yards and 20 touchdowns and rushed for 2,108 yards and 35 touchdowns. Safety Rayshawn Jenkins played QB in high school, but most teams prefer to have an offensive player because they know some of the terminology. — Shelley Smith

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NFC EAST

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Ryan Clark, Dan Graziano and Domonique Foxworth can’t stop laughing over Jerry Jones’ comments comparing the Cowboys starting QB Ben DiNucci to the Broncos starting practice squad WR Kendall Hinton.

The Cowboys have options. Wide receiver Cedrick Wilson has thrown a touchdown pass to Dak Prescott this season. Running back Ezekiel Elliott has lined up in the Wildcat formation when the Cowboys went with rookie Ben DiNucci at quarterback. CeeDee Lamb was called on to throw a pass but ended up getting sacked. Tight end Blake Bell played quarterback at Oklahoma. The Belldozer might not have the arm, but he did have 12 touchdown passes for the Sooners. The Cowboys might be able to go to a committee approach at the position. — Todd Archer


The Giants — like most teams — had the quarantine QB conversation last week after seeing what happened to the Broncos. Their new plan is to make Alex Tanney their remote/emergency quarterback, either this week or next, assuming all goes well with the COVID-19 protocol. Tanney makes sense for this role. He’s a coach in the making and spent the spring and summer with the team, so he already knows the offense and has worked with most of the players. He can jump in at a moment’s notice and at least have a chance. — Jordan Raanan


The plan was to turn to Josh McCown, who was on the Eagles’ practice squad and had been working remotely from Texas, but he has since been signed by the Texans. The most likely candidate to get the call now would be wide receiver Greg Ward, who played quarterback at the University of Houston. — Tim McManus


The nation saw Washington’s emergency quarterback throw — and complete — a pass on Thanksgiving Day: tight end Logan Thomas. Of course, it helps that Thomas played quarterback at Virginia Tech and started his NFL career at that position before switching to tight end. Thomas joked earlier this season that no team ever tells him that he’s the emergency quarterback; it’s just a given. As a pro, he has completed 3 of 11 passes for 124 yards for Arizona, Buffalo and Washington. He has lined up under center twice this season to run a sneak. Thomas has a career-best 34 receptions and four touchdowns this season. — John Keim

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NFC NORTH

The Bears have two emergency quarterback options — Cordarrelle Patterson and David Montgomery — in the event Mitchell Trubisky, Nick Foles and Tyler Bray are all unavailable. Patterson has taken plenty of direct snaps in the Wildcat formation — primarily when he played for the Vikings — and Montgomery is a former high school dual-threat quarterback, passing for 726 yards and seven touchdowns for Mount Healthy in Cincinnati. Another emergency quarterback candidate would have been running back Tarik Cohen, but he is done for the season with a knee injury. — Jeff Dickerson


Starting quarterback Matthew Stafford said the Lions have a “sneaky talented group of throwers.” He pointed to wide receiver Mohamed Sanu‘s perfect passer rating (7-of-8 with four touchdowns and no interceptions), receiver Danny Amendola‘s throwing ability (he also has a perfect passer rating) and receiver/returner Jamal Agnew‘s throw to Stafford last Thursday against Houston — a pass Stafford called “a dime to me on Thanksgiving, that I dropped.” “There’s endless possibilities,” Stafford said. “We’ll keep defenses guessing with that one, but hopefully [we] don’t have to find out.” — Michael Rothstein


Tight end Robert Tonyan began his college career as a quarterback at Indiana State, where he started three games as a freshman before he moved to receiver as a sophomore, so he might be the logical choice. It probably would have been FB/TE John Lovett, a two-time All-American QB at Princeton, where he threw 31 TDs and five INTs, but he’s on injured reserve with a torn ACL. Here’s a wild card: Davante Adams. The Pro Bowl wide receiver took part in a few quarterback drills as recently as this past summer in training camp. It seemed like just joking around at the time, but … “Those are discussions that we’ll continue to have, certainly guys that have past quarterbacking experience usually go to the top of the list,” coach Matt LaFleur said. “To say it would be Bobby [Tonyan], I think that’s a little soon to say, but we will have a plan for that.” — Rob Demovsky


Coach Mike Zimmer said the Vikings don’t have plans to quarantine any of their three backup QBs (Sean Mannion, Jake Browning, Nate Stanley) to ensure they have one for the final five weeks of the season in the event COVID-19 hits the quarterbacks room. If Minnesota were to face a situation like the one Denver went through in Week 12, wide receiver Adam Thielen would be first in line to play quarterback, followed by tight end Kyle Rudolph. “Usually, we take a day in training camp and kind of work on what we would do if a certain situation arose, if the third quarterback [was out],” Zimmer said. “Then we repeat it, typically on Saturdays.” — Courtney Cronin

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NFC SOUTH

The Falcons would likely use wide receiver Russell Gage as the first option. Gage was a dual-threat quarterback in high school, throwing for more than 700 yards and rushing for more than 1,000. But they could also turn to their tight ends. Hayden Hurst was a coveted prep baseball prospect with a 95 mph fastball who was selected in the 17th round of the MLB draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Second-year tight end Jaeden Graham was a multisport letter-winner at Cherry Creek High School in Colorado and played safety, tight end and backup quarterback before moving to tight end full time at Yale. — Jeff Legwold


The Panthers have four quarterbacks on their roster, including rookie Tommy Stevens on the practice squad, so they’re not that concerned about losing all of them. If they do, running back Christian McCaffrey or wide receiver DJ Moore would step in. McCaffrey actually has attempted three NFL passes, completing one for a 50-yard touchdown in 2018. He never played quarterback in high school, but he did punt. Moore likely would line up in the Wildcat and run or hand off. He did throw five passes at Maryland, completing three for 36 yards. — David Newton


The Saints have kept their emergency plans close to the vest. One obvious candidate is running back Alvin Kamara, who has already been used in some Wildcat packages this season and has flashed his arm on a couple of occasions. He completed a forward pass of 13 yards last season and threw a pretty tossback pass to Drew Brees on a trick play earlier this season. The Saints also recently signed veteran backup Trevor Siemian, but they declined to say whether they have any plans to keep any QBs quarantined away from the others. — Mike Triplett


In the offseason, Bucs coach Bruce Arians flirted with the idea of having a quarantine quarterback who would be separate from the others. He opted not to. “I don’t think we need to, just because of the protocols that we’re following really closely, so I don’t think we would have that problem,” Arians said. The Bucs’ coronavirus numbers have been among the lowest in the league. Since the season began, Tampa Bay has had two players on the 53-man roster (Jaydon Mickens and Will Gholston), two practice-squad members (Cyril Grayson and Benning Potoa’e) and two players on injured reserve (T.J. Logan and Vita Vea) placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Arians said, “We’ve been able to — knock on wood — be really, really good with the virus, especially in the quarterback room.” — Jenna Laine

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NFC WEST

Coach Kliff Kingsbury declined to go into specifics about the emergency QB, saying: “There’s a number of contingency plans. We would cross that bridge when we got there and have as good an answer as you can have.” The Cardinals have a couple of options on the roster: cornerback Patrick Peterson, who has been the emergency option for a few years, and tight end Maxx Williams, who was a quarterback in high school. Only three players have thrown a pass under Kingsbury: Kyler Murray, former backup quarterback Brett Hundley and punter Andy Lee. Current backup quarterback Chris Streveler has lined up under center but hasn’t thrown a pass. — Josh Weinfuss


The options are plentiful for the Rams at emergency quarterback. “We’ve got a lot of guys that I think would probably say they should be first in line,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. Wide receiver Cooper Kupp — who filled in as a QB briefly in high school — has previously served as the emergency QB, said McVay, who added that rookie running back Cam Akers “would deserve some consideration” because of his background as a high school quarterback. Akers led Clinton High School to a Mississippi state championship and in four seasons passed for 8,140 yards and 78 touchdowns and rushed for 5,103 yards and 71 scores. “Those would be the first two guys that probably come to mind,” McVay said. “And I’m sure I’m missing some guys that would say, ‘Coach, don’t sleep on my QB skills.'” Punter Johnny Hekker also played quarterback in high school and has utilized his arm in several fake-punt situations over his nine-season career, completing 13 of 22 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown. — Lindsey Thiry


There are two, probably in this order: running back Jerick McKinnon and fullback Kyle Juszczyk. Niners coach Kyle Shanahan said McKinnon and Juszczyk “fight over it” and Juszczyk takes a lot of pride in it, but Shanahan gives the edge to McKinnon because he played quarterback at Georgia Southern and had a lot of success. Shanahan hopes it never comes to that, noting that if you ever get to a position where you’re playing someone who isn’t actually a quarterback by trade, “no answer is very good.” — Nick Wagoner


Tight end Jacob Hollister and running back DeeJay Dallas are among the Seahawks’ emergency options. “And we have some surprises as well, but those are guys that would jump in for us if we needed it,” coach Pete Carroll said. Both played quarterback in high school. Hollister began his college career at that position and was Oregon’s Class 5A Player of the Year in 2011 after completing 62% of his passes for 37 touchdowns and three interceptions as a senior while leading Mountain View High to a state title. In an effort to avoid the kind of emergency situation Denver experienced, Carroll said the Seahawks have started to keep practice squad quarterback Danny Etling away from Russell Wilson and Geno Smith. — Brady Henderson

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