Scouts Inc.: Patriots' emergency list is key

Posted by Scout's Inc.'s Keith Kidd

When an injury occurs in the NFL, the wheels start spinning immediately -- diagnoses are made, lists are checked and phone calls are placed either during the game or immediately after. And when your quarterback goes down for the rest of the season, like Tom Brady did on Sunday, there is an even bigger sense of urgency.

Once Brady was diagnosed by the team's doctors and the staff understood the extent of his injury, the process began. If a player is deemed to be out for an extended period, the team starts looking for someone to fill the 53-man roster. The first place they look is to their own practice squad, and in this case the Patriots will find QB Matt Gutierrez. However, the Patriots will probably not add him because they already have enough inexperienced quarterbacks on their roster.

The next place a team will look to fill their roster is its emergency list. Every team has an emergency list of five to seven players per position who could fill a roster spot vacated by injury, players that team scouts have determined are the best available without jobs in the NFL. This list provides each player's position, test score, height, weight, speed, age, agent's name and phone number, player's phone number, minimum salary for that player and a small comment area. These lists are finalized every Friday throughout the regular season in case an injury occurs during that week's game.

The Patriots probably placed calls during the game to players' agents to find out their status and willingness to sign, and the ideal situation is to bring in players on Monday or Tuesday for a workout and physical. If all that checks out, then the team will sign that player. Right now, New England is looking for the quarterback who can contribute the quickest, and once they identify that player offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels begins a process to determine what the newly-signed quarterback is comfortable with and help the player understand the team's terminology. Regardless, whichever veteran quarterback the Patriots decide to sign, he will be a help for the inexperienced quarterbacks on the roster, including QB Matt Cassel.

We know some of the players the Patriots are looking at, and here's a look how the top six on their emergency list might look:

1. Chris Simms -- He has had success as a starter in the NFL. Simms has good arm strength and good presence in the pocket. He was derailed in Tampa Bay by an unfortunate spleen injury, but he could help the Patriots win if needed. However, he will take time to learn their system and has not been a cold-weather quarterback at any point in his career.

2. Tim Rattay -- He is a journeyman quarterback who could finish a game if necessary. He can process quickly, get rid of the ball fast and it shouldn't be hard for him to learn the system. He is at his best in a controlled, short-to-intermediate passing attack.

3. Vinny Testaverde -- The 45-year-old quarterback is very familiar with the Patriots' system and was signed late last year after Cassel's poor play in the regular season. His age might be a limiting factor, though.

4. Daunte Culpepper -- Even though he is retired, he could probably be convinced to apply for reinstatement. Culpepper has been in three different systems -- Minnesota, Oakland and Miami -- and he has been productive as a starter. Plus, he already has a very good relationship with WR Randy Moss from their time in Minnesota.

5. Craig Nall -- He is a journeyman backup quarterback who doesn't have much starting experience. But he is also familiar with the AFC East.
New England head coach Bill Belichick is a tremendous evaluator of talent and knows how to assess a player's strengths and weaknesses. He has surely studied all of the players above in preparation for games against their former teams. You can be sure that there will be a good reason for the Patriots passing on any player on their emergency list.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.