Our review of the 2017 Detroit Lions season continues. Today, let’s talk about backup quarterback Jake Rudock. It may surprise you that 2016 draft pick is not signed through the 2018 season. Let’s weigh the Lions’ options for the former Wolverine.
Expectations before 2017
When the Lions decided to permanently move on from veteran backup Dan Orlovsky, it was clear the backup quarterback role behind Matthew Stafford was Rudock’s to lose.
Though the Lions drafted Brad Kaaya in the sixth round of the 2017 draft, it was clear Rudock had a step on him. After a very shaky 2016 training camp, Rudock looked much better last year. He had a comfortable lead over Kaaya all through preseason, and so he was expected to serve as an adequate, albeit inexperienced, backup.
Actual role in 2017
2017 stats: 3 games (0 starts): 3-5, 24 yards, 1 INT
PFF Grade: 49.8 (Not enough to qualify for ranking)
Jake Rudock played in three games, but only played as a quarterback in one (he also helped out as a holder when Detroit dealt with punter injuries).
In his NFL debut, Rudock was a minor disaster. After Stafford suffered a brutal-looking hand injury, it was up to Rudock to somehow erase a 17-point deficit with less than five minutes remaining. Just five plays into his first drive, Rudock threw an ugly pick-six, ending whatever minimal chance the Lions had at orchestrating a comeback.
It wasn’t exactly an ideal situation to throw the young quarterback into for his first career NFL action, but his play didn’t inspire much confidence for the future.
Outlook for 2017
Contract status: Exclusive-rights free agent (ERFA)
Despite only being in the league two years, Rudock’s contract is already up (because he was cut his rookie year). The good news for the Lions is that he’s an ERFA, meaning, if they want, they can bring Rudock back on an extremely cheap deal with no risk of losing him to other teams.
But it’s hard to say whether the Lions are really that locked into Rudock. He hasn’t proven much of anything, and his best quality right now is two years of experience under Jim Bob Cooter’s offense. That can be huge, don’t get me wrong, but with a new quarterbacks coach on staff, you have to wonder if Detroit may be considering a changing of the guard at backup quarterback.
Remember that general manager Bob Quinn has said in the past that it’s good practice to draft a quarterback every year or every other year. The Lions also did sign Alek Torgersen to a futures contract back in January, so Rudock will at least have some competition if brought back.
There’s no real reason not to tender Rudock his qualifying offer—it basically won’t cost the Lions anything—but expect there to be serious competition for the backup job this year.
What should the Lions do with Jake Rudock?
This poll is closed
Let him walk
Give him ERFA offer, let him compete for backup job
Sign to normal contract, he’s the backup QB