Monday, March 20, 2006
Bills add Nall to starting quarterback derby
By Len Pasquarelli
Further signaling their intentions of throwing open the starting quarterback job for offseason competition, the Buffalo Bills have added a third candidate to the mix, reaching agreement with unrestricted free agent Craig Nall on a three-year contract.
The four-year veteran played his entire career in Green Bay and, despite appearing in just six games with no starts, was well regarded by Packers coaches and by personnel officials from other teams as well. The financial details of the three-year contract were not immediately available.
Nall, 26, is expected to compete with Buffalo holdovers Kelly Holcomb and J.P. Losman for the starting spot. Losman was the team's first-round choice in the 2004 draft, but there is a new staff and a revamped football structure in Buffalo, and general manager Marv Levy and coach Dick Jauron don't have the same loyalties to him as their predecessors did.
The journeyman Holcomb was signed as a free agent last year and he and Losman split the starts, with eight each. One of the holdover quarterbacks could be released or traded, although Jauron has indicated they would enter camp even on the depth chart and the starter would be determined in the summer.
A fifth-round pick in the 2002 draft, Nall played sparingly, and spent most of his tenure with the Packers as the No. 3 quarterback. But the former Northwestern (La.) State star has good size and a strong arm and, if he plays up to the potential some scouts feel he possesses, he could be a factor in the Bills' competition for the starting job.
First-year Packers coach Mike McCarthy had hoped to retain Nall, but the veteran wanted an opportunity to play, and felt the Buffalo situation offered him that. In Green Bay, whether Brett Favre returns or not for 2006, the Packers have 2005 first-round choice Aaron Rodgers, the perceived heir, on the roster.
In his six regular-season appearances, Nall completed 23 of 33 passes for 314 yards, with four touchdown passes and no interceptions, for a passer efficiency rating of 139.4. He has five rushes for five yards. Nall also played for the Scottish Claymores in the spring of 2003 and led the NFL Europe League in passing.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.