As the NFL offseason winds its way from organized team activities to training camp, there’ll be plenty of veteran-rookie battles to keep an eye on. The most notable battles, and the ones that take the lion’s share of offseason storylines, are quarterback battles; it seems fitting for the most important position in the sport.
This year, there’s no shortage of those. To boot, there was more quarterback movement than in recent offseasons and more disgruntled passers airing their frustrations. It leads us to a number of questions; the one that I keep coming back to is the inability of teams to keep their star quarterbacks happy. While league brass might think it can replace an Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson with a younger, more moldable passer, success is difficult for even the best green talent to copy. This leads to the actual question at hand: Do veteran quarterbacks owe anything to rookies?
There have been some veteran passers who haven’t been as willing to impart their wisdom to their soon replacement. But recently, both old and young QBs, have welcomed the learning process.
“You’re an open book,” Kirk Cousins said, via the Pioneer Press. “You’re helpful, and you’re there and make yourself available.
“It was great to be able to learn from [Rex Grossman], and he was a big part of my early development as a football player. I really took every word he said to heart because I felt he’d been there, done that and he should know what it looked like. I hung on his every word. I’ve been there and want to certainly be that same resource whenever possible.”
Cousins’ days with the Minnesota Vikings are numbered, even if he finessed a recent extension. The Vikings’ third-round selection, Kellen Mond, will now have the opportunity to learn from Cousins or at the very least gain a better understanding of the playbook through the eyes of a veteran. Incumbent passers across the league share the same sentiment, especially ones who are currently a bridge to a new era.
“I don’t hide any information,” Tyrod Taylor said, via Sports Illustrated. “If it’s something I can share with a younger quarterback or whatever position it is, I’ll share it. You can’t focus on outside factors. You have to bring your 'A game' every day, lead by example and everything else will fall in line the way it’s supposed to.”
Taylor isn’t the Houston Texans’ future under center, but his own experience can ease the onboarding of inexperienced talent; that can often be the hardest transition. Top collegiate talent doesn’t always translate well to the next level. This is where pros come in.
Veteran quarterbacks don’t necessarily owe it to the younger players, but teams would be hard-pressed to find a player completely unwilling to fill a teacher-esque role. It might not be in the traditional way, or outwardly expressed in a way that appeases the public, but in every quarterback room, players are learning from each other. As the older generation of passers creates paths for up-and-coming players, it’s not so much what they owe them, rather it’s the environment they create.