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Mailbag: Despite Rule Change, Is 3rd QB Worth It? 


The new NFL rule to allow an emergency third quarterback to enter the game made me wonder how that's going to affect the way the Cowboys build their team. They would have to use a valuable spot on the 53-man roster on a player who will likely never see the field. Is that worth it? Would the coaches prefer to use that spot on a player who can provide extra depth elsewhere? Or to maybe keep a young, developing player?Rick Monroe/Orlando, FL

Nick Eatman: It's like having insurance on anything - a car or a house or even a computer. Insurance never seems worth it, until you need it. Ask the 49ers if they would've liked to have that rule in place for the NFC Championship? But then again, this isn't really a new concept. Teams could always keep a third QB if they want to and make them active. The Cowboys actually did keep Will Grier on the roster for most of the season, although he was inactive most of the time. So this rule would've helped the Cowboys in theory last year - then again it never got to a third QB. And it rarely does, but when it happens, it's a problem. And with anything, if a team gets hurt by a rule or lack of a rule in the playoffs, you best believe it'll be up for a rule change the next year. We saw it with Pass Interference being reviewable because of a playoff game, you saw it with the overtime rules and we even saw it with the "what is a catch" debate. So here's just another example of trying to fix something that was a problem in the playoffs. Personally, I'd keep just two on the roster and take my chances to finish out a game. You can always go get one the next week, but if you get to a third QB, winning the game probably isn't in the cards anyway.

Nick Harris: I think more than anything this new 'QB3' rule will be used circumstantially, at the least. I wouldn't expect many teams to consistently carry three quarterbacks unless there were health concerns with the starter and/or backup on a consistent basis. This rule may be more effective in the playoffs when injuries can be a little more unpredictable since you're planning for weeks ahead, similar to how we saw the 49ers enter a potentially scary situation with Christian McCaffrey at quarterback this past season. For me, I don't see it as worth it in the long run to consistently carry three quarterbacks. Instead, I'd rather that depth be used for someone who can actually step onto the field at any given moment -- rather than needing injuries to happen in front of him -- in either a special teams capacity or in their natural position.

Mickey: Not sure that rule change will change whether a team keeps a third quarterback on the 53-man roster or place that guy on the practice squad. Probably still will depend on if teams accurately determine whether the third guy can pass through waivers to get on the practice squad or not. If not that third QB will be on the 53-man roster, and then sure doesn't hurt to make said QB the emergency third quarterback on game day. Doesn't hurt anything or cause another player on the 48-man gameday roster to be inactive. My other thought is, until a team suffers the loss of the only two quarterbacks on the 48-man roster, a la San Francisco in the playoffs this past season, keeping a third quarterback on the 53 will not take on added importance. Since Will Grier spent 17 weeks on the 53-man roster in 2022, chances are the Cowboys will continue to think doing so again will be necessary to protect his rights.

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