As long as Jim Schwartz has been the head coach, the Detroit Lions have carried at least three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster. Especially in recent years, keeping three quarterbacks wasn't a very big surprise given the injury concerns surrounding starter Matthew Stafford. Considering in 2010 the Lions were forced to go to third-stringer Drew Stanton, the decision to carry three quarterbacks was a good one.
This season, the Lions are going to have a change at quarterback with Stanton now on the Indianapolis Colts. The typical depth chart of Stafford, Shaun Hill and Stanton will be different, and the thinking has been that undrafted free agent Kellen Moore will step in as the third-stringer. However, is it possible that the Lions will go in a different direction and not even have a third quarterback? Schwartz didn't rule out the possibility when he was asked about this topic last week.
On whether they plan to keep 3 quarterbacks: "We'll see how it shakes - we're going to keep our best 53 players when we get out of training camp.
"To make that decision now is not a wise decision. We've got to see who our best 53 is. Last year, we kept three, but it doesn't mean that we'll keep three this year and it doesn't mean that we'll keep two. It's just really dependent on how it goes and who earns a spot on the 53-man roster."
As pointed out by MLive's Justin Rogers, 13 of the league's teams began 2011 with only two quarterbacks, so it's not uncommon for teams to go with only a starter and a backup. For the Lions, there could be value in freeing up a roster spot considering last year Stanton didn't dress for a single game as the third-string QB. With there being a logjam at so many other positions, perhaps the coaches could decide that the team would be better off with an extra linebacker instead of a third-string quarterback, for example.
If the Lions could release Moore and know for sure that he would make it to the practice squad and not sign elsewhere, carrying two quarterbacks would be the best option. That way, Moore could be signed to the active roster if an injury were to happen, but the Lions would be able to free up a roster spot as long as Stafford and Hill are healthy. The problem with this is it seems unlikely that Moore would actually make it to the practice squad without another team claiming him off waivers. The risk of losing him completely may result in the Lions continuing their usual ways of carrying three quarterbacks.
While nothing is set in stone at this point in the offseason, it would surprise me if the Lions went with only two QBs. I'd be for the move to carry only two if not for the risk involved in potentially losing Moore to another team. Then the Lions would have to bring in another QB to learn the system and be around in case injuries do happen.
At the very least, perhaps this will be a storyline worth keeping an eye on once training camp begins.