Quarterback commitments can be fickle

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Len Pasquarelli's column about teams needing to clear the air with jilted quarterbacks brought to mind a part of the game Matt Hasselbeck mentioned to John Boyle of the Everett Herald:

"I experienced kind of a high-low in 2001. I got traded and talked to the coaching staff and they said, 'Hey, we want you to come be our starting quarterback.' And then during training camp, they go and sign Trent Dilfer, who had just won a Super Bowl. I think I learned a lot through that experience and through other experiences like that."

Quarterback commitments can indeed be fickle. Matt Leinart and Alex Smith have learned that the hard way. The Cardinals' decision to bench Leinart didn't need much explaining, in my view, because Super Bowl MVP Kurt Warner was the alternative.

The quarterback question I would have in St. Louis is how quickly the Rams might turn away from Marc Bulger if he were to struggle.

General manager Billy Devaney and the new coaching staff have not hesitated to push out established players, from Torry Holt to Orlando Pace to Drew Bennett to Corey Chavous to Pisa Tinoisamoa and others. Bulger probably wasn't going anywhere this offseason for a few reasons:

  • Bulger remained the Rams' most viable option.

  • The team invested heavily in Bulger before the 2007 season.

  • The team had too many other needs to draft a quarterback second overall.

  • Releasing Bulger would have carried negative salary-cap ramifications.

Kyle Boller, Brock Berlin and Keith Null are the alternatives to Bulger. If all goes to plan, the Rams will run the ball effectively, putting Bulger in better position to avoid punishment. Bulger will become comfortable again while re-establishing his career.

All bets are off if the season does not go to plan. The people who identified Bulger as the Rams' franchise quarterback no longer remain in positions of authority within the organization. That could make him more vulnerable than the typical franchise quarterback.