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Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Call it: Best NFC South backup QB?

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

It seems like the flow of news on the Saints’ bounty program finally has slowed and we’re entering a slow time of year, so let’s have some fun.

I’ve asked our friends at SportsNation to assemble the accompanying poll to let you vote for whichever NFC South backup quarterback you think is the best.

Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton and Josh Freeman have been pretty healthy. Despite the drama, you have to assume Brees’ contract situation will be resolved before the start of training camp. So I don’t see any NFC South team having to turn to its backup anytime soon, but what if something unexpected happens? Which team would be in the best shape if it had to play its backup quarterback?

I’m not sure there’s a clear-cut choice here. Tampa Bay added Dan Orlovsky as a free agent and he comes with a little momentum after leading the Indianapolis Colts to two victories late last season and he's definitely an upgrade over previous backup Josh Johnson, but Orlovsky didn’t throw a single pass in 2009 or 2010. The rest of the division’s backups are the same as they were last year.

New Orleans backup Chase Daniel has attempted eight passes in three seasons with the Saints. I’ve seen him in practice and preseason games and think he could probably do a decent job of moving a very talented New Orleans offense. But there’s really no regular-season evidence to support that.

Carolina’s Derek Anderson didn’t attempt a pass last season. But he has a fair amount of experience. He has 43 career starts and did throw for almost 3,800 yards with Cleveland in 2007. Anderson’s offensive coordinator that year was Rob Chudzinski, who now runs Carolina’s offense. Anderson has plenty of familiarity with the system, so I don’t think the Panthers would be in dire straits if they had to play him.

Atlanta’s Chris Redman hasn’t had to play much at all since Ryan arrived in 2008. Even before that, Redman pretty much was a career backup. But I’m going to cast my vote for Redman.

I’m taking the cautious approach. I’m picking him mostly because he’s 34 and first came into the league in 2000, although he sat out the 2004, ’05 and ’06 seasons. Redman has sat through hundreds of quarterback meetings and taken thousands of practice snaps.

Throw him into a game with Atlanta’s skill-position talent around him and I think Redman is the NFC South backup quarterback with the best chance of succeeding. But you’re free to disagree. Go ahead and cast your vote.