You may have turned off the Sunday Night Football game early last night as the New York Giants were getting completely dominated by the Minnesota Vikings, so you may very well have missed seeing former Syracuse University football star Ryan Nassib put together his best extended regular season action since being drafted by the Giants in 2013.
Nassib, who broke basically every passing record at Syracuse during his career and had, at least statistically, probably the best single season at QB in Orange history in 2012 (again: statistically), when he threw for 3,749 yards with 26 touchdowns against just 10 interceptions and led Syracuse to a Pinstripe Bowl victory, looked terrific in relief of Eli Manning last night. He completed all five of his pass attempts for 68 yards, including his first career touchdown throw, a 27-yarder to Myles White when the game was already well out of hand.
In his short career, Nassib has barely gotten onto the field outside of preseason action. That’s what happens when you’re the backup to the current active leader in consecutive games played at the QB position. Eli Manning hasn’t missed a game since November of 2004, and it doesn’t look likely he’s going to be missing any anytime soon. In his brief regular season action, Nassib is now 9-of-10 for 128 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions, and is no doubt getting a little restless as the perpetual backup to Peyton’s little brother.
The good news for Nassib is that Eli is 34, and will actually be turning 35 next week. That’s getting close to ancient for an NFL quarterback, but given how many older QBs are still motoring right along, as well as Eli’s durability, there’s no telling when Nassib will get his shot at starting in the NFL. Nassib is 25 right now, and will be 26 when the 2016 season opens. That’s also the last year on his rookie contract, meaning he could be a prized bargaining chip for the Giants if they want to make a trade right around the NFL Draft, given the yearly need for quality quarterbacks.
Right now, Nassib is set to count for $788,400 against the cap for 2016, meaning he’s in his final year of being a bargain. It seems unlikely the Giants will want to give him a big contract considering how little he’s been on the field, so trading him – or at least shopping him around – before he gets a chance to test the free agent market seems like it’s bound to happen.
There are obviously some clubs that would have no interest in Nassib. New England, Carolina, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Green Bay, Indianapolis, Detroit, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Seattle, Baltimore, San Diego, Tennessee, Oakland, Minnesota, and Jacksonville seem like no-brainers to stick with what they currently have. You can probably add Kansas City, Miami, and even Denver (given how solid Brock Osweiler has been in relief of the probably soon-to-retire Peyton Manning) to that mix.
You would also think that Buffalo would be out of the mix, but reports came out last week that the Bills’ front office isn’t quite convinced yet that Tyrod Taylor is the long-term answer at QB. For that reason, I’ll leave them in the mix, but on the same level as Washington – who also seems to have found a solution at QB in Kirk Cousins, but hasn’t pulled the trigger to committing just yet. Considering how unlikely those two destinations are for Nassib, let’s leave them out of the equation for now.
So who else does that leave? Well, the most noteworthy destinations would probably be Arizona and New Orleans, both of which have aging quarterbacks who are closing in on retirement in the 36 year old Carson Palmer and Drew Brees, who will be 37 in January. Both appear to have a solid backup plan, with Drew Stanton having gained some quality experience in relief of Palmer while the Saints seem content to groom Garrett Grayson, at least for now. However, things could obviously change if Sean Payton leaves town as many are speculating. One of the names being mentioned as a potential replacement on the sidelines in New Orleans? Nassib’s very own college coach, Doug Marrone. Could Marrone be intrigued enough to bring in his former record-setting QB, or will it wind up being a situation like it was in Buffalo, where he passed on Nassib and took a different signal caller, that time being EJ Manuel?
Chicago is another intriguing potential destination for Nassib, as once again, there are rumblings that Jay Cutler’s time with the Bears may be close to being up. Of course those rumors rise up every year, and every year, they wind up keeping the grumpy QB. If Chicago does in fact decide to move on from Cutler, the backup situation is far from ideal, with former San Jose State QB David Fales (also known as, “Who?”) riding the pine in Chitown.
But for now, let’s say that New Orleans, Arizona, and Chicago are all off the table. Along with eliminating Washington and Buffalo, that brings us to 24 out of 32 teams that are likely set at the QB position, not including Nassib’s current team, the Giants. That leaves the Jets, the Eagles, the Texans, the Rams, the 49ers, the Browns, and the Cowboys as potential destinations for Ryan Nassib. It may seem a little funny to include Dallas in the mix given they still do have Tony Romo, but this season has taught even the most diehard of Cowboys fans that the future looks grim in a post-Romo era, with the likes of Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel limping through a dismal season. You can’t discount Jerry Jones at least sending out feelers for Nassib, especially given the fact that he hasn’t taken a QB in the first round of the draft since 1989, when he picked some guy named Troy Aikman.
The Jets currently have Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is having a career year but is still Ryan Fitzpatrick, along with Geno Smith and rookie Bryce Petty. None of them seems like “the answer” at QB but I’m still going to go ahead and call it an unlikely destination for Nassib, so let’s scratch them off the list. The Rams and the Eagles made one of the worst QB swaps in recent memory, flipping Sam Bradford and Nick Foles, and both teams have suffered for the deal this season. Both should be open to finding a new QB for the 2016 season, with backups like Mark Sanchez and Case Keenum not really moving the needle for either team.
Philadelphia would be perhaps the most intriguing destination for Nassib, if Chip Kelly remains the head coach there. It’s Nassib’s hometown team, and he’s got a good, quick release and is a heady quarterback, with underrated mobility. He seems like a potentially solid fit for Kelly’s offense. San Francisco is another interesting option, given the situation there with Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert, a pair of colossal disappointments who are far from irreplaceable. Houston is another intriguing destination, with the QB situation currently consisting of Brian Hoyer, the aforementioned Weeden, and former USF signal caller BJ Daniels, who rotated in with Weeden on Sunday despite just being signed from the Seattle practice squad.
Cleveland will almost certainly be searching for someone to replace Johnny Manziel sooner than later, and while Josh McCown is a solid quarterback, he’s 36 and there’s a reason he’s been a backup for the bulk of his career.
So where will Ryan Nassib wind up? With no actual, real knowledge of the situation, I figured I’d power rank the most likely destinations for the former Syracuse star:
7. St. Louis Rams
6. Houston Texans
5. San Francisco 49ers
4. Dallas Cowboys
3. Cleveland Browns
2. Philadelphia Eagles
1. New York Giants
Yep. At the end of the day, the most likely scenario will be that Nassib stays put in New York and eventually takes over for Eli Manning. If the Giants do in fact decide to shop Nassib around, however, it seems highly likely that his hometown Eagles would be the most interesting franchise to potentially get in the mix.