As Buffalo Bills fans, we understand the NFL is a quarterback-driven league. That’s long been a fact of the sport’s most influential and lucrative branch. There is no other professional game like NFL football. Even if its penetration outside North America pales in comparison to the impact it has on the United States. We eat it up because of the entertainment value and (most of the time) incredible competitive balance.
To be successful in the NFL, a wealth of talent and luck is paramount. Talent alone isn’t enough without luck, because there are too many outliers that can impact how successful a team or any one player is week to week.
The league realizes the importance of quarterbacks and has made what seems like an endless stream of rules in favor of signal callers. And rightly so. Injuries at the position can derail a team’s season. There are only so many franchise quarterbacks — and that count is far less even than the 32 NFL franchises. But, until this week, one situation had yet to be modified in their favor.
Despite the lack of blue-chip talent at the position, every team must meaningfully field a quarterback. Should the starter be lost to injury or ineffectiveness, the backup becomes the starter. In most cases, there would be no one behind QB2 to take over if needed during an emergency scenario. There are too few roster spots allocated to teams, and using one on a third QB who’d likely never see the field isn’t the best game to play.
As reported by National NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, a bylaw has been approved that will allow “a third QB to be active without burning a roster spot.”
The NFL bylaw on allowing a third QB to be active without burning a roster spot was approved, per source.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 22, 2023
This feels like a move to ensure what took place during last season’s playoffs between the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles doesn’t happen again. While there’s zero guarantee of preventing injury to QB3 forced into emergency action after QBs 1 and 2 go down, at minimum it allows some semblance of competitive balance to remain in play.
No matter how talented players like Christian McCaffrey are, the role of pro quarterback isn’t in their wheelhouse. Because of that, the Niners had to turn back to a visibly pained Brock Purdy who was unable to do much after suffering a more severe form of injury similar to what Josh Allen endured last fall. Unfortunately, the 49ers’ collective hands were tied (short of running wildcat to white-flag the game), and it’s reasonable to imagine a scenario where Purdy could have harmed his playing future even further.
While many bemoan a return to the old days where quarterbacks endured far more physical hits more often, this rule change is a welcome decision by the NFL.