Amid all of the controversy with Jon Gruden and the Las Vegas Raiders, Kurt Benkert is counting himself lucky to be around “the right kind of people” in Green Bay.
The Packers’ third-string quarterback took to Twitter on Monday night after news broke that Gruden had resigned as head coach of the Raiders and sent a strong message on the “problem in the NFL,” which he identified as the league allowing “so many of these types of guys” to determine the players’ futures over the years.
Benkert later added some clarification to his initial tweet, wanting to make sure that nobody mistook his reference to being “around the right kind of people” as a subtle shot at the Atlanta Falcons, with whom he spent his first three seasons in the NFL.
“More referring to the fact that he ran a big segment (show) in scouting for a long time evaluating QBs that affected draft status/perception & built a narrative around hundred of players over the years,” Benkert said, a clear reference to the ESPN-produced ‘Jon Gruden’s QB Camp’ series from Gruden’s days as a draft analyst. “Just more of a statement on that than anything.”
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Benkert Continues Biding Time in Green Bay
It is unlikely Benkert will get his opportunity to shine for the Packers during the 2021 season. As their third-string quarterback, there is little need for him to take up a spot on the active roster unless an injury or other issues impact either Aaron Rodgers’ or Jordan Love’s availability. Make no mistake, though; Benkert’s time will come.
The Packers have been safeguarding Benkert ever since he beat out veteran Blake Bortles and Jake Dolegala during offseason competitions. Even once Rodgers returned to Green Bay and the Packers no longer had an imminent need for a third quarterback, Benkert got extended looks in the preseason and finished 30 of 48 passing with 300 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions — good enough to earn him a practice-squad role along with in-season protections each week to keep other teams from signing him away.
The Packers still have some things to figure out with Rodgers, namely whether he will still be their starting quarterback beyond the 2021 season. The two sides agreed to void the 2023 season from Rodgers’ contract at the beginning of training camp, creating a salary-cap burden in 2022 that will almost certainly force the team to decide between signing him to a new deal or cutting/trading him for cap relief.
If they do decide to let Rodgers go and roll with Love as their starting quarterback, though, Benkert is the logical choice to step up as the Packers’ new primary backup. That’s not to be discounted for someone who has still not gotten to take his first regular-season snap in the NFL since coming into the league in 2018, especially after being able to work his way into a similar spot in three seasons for the Falcons.
Sure, a backup role behind Love might still not result in much playing time for Benkert, but a greater role within a system would come with heightened responsibilities. And when it comes to rising the ranks as an undrafted quarterback, there are certainly worse things than a premium backup position for one of the league’s most storied franchises.