It is extremely unlikely that any NFL team can enter a regular season with four quarterbacks on the roster, so it appears as if someone has to go. No matter what happens, the team has already made a commitment to Byron Leftwich, so he will be on the opening day roster, and he will be the starting quarterback, assuming he's healthy.
I feel Quinn Gray should be the quarterback to stay on the Jaguars roster assuming that Daunte Culpepper be brought in. David Garrard has had his chances with the Jaguars as the starting quarterback, and we all saw what happens when he is required to play for a long period of time and coaches have enough time to prepare for him. Quinn Gray, however, has been buried on the Jaguars practice squad/roster since the 2002 season. He's managed to hang on the roster as a number three quarterback for quite a while, which is a rare feat in itself. Not only has he hung on, but in the rare opportunities he's had to actually play in a live NFL game, he's shined. He has come in and shown the ability to lead the team down the field on long drives, and while trailing. As soon as he replaced David Garrard in Week 17 at Kansas City, he immediately marched the Jaguars down the field and back into the game while putting some life into a passing game that was non-existent in the first half.
Gray may not be ready to come in and start a full season right now like David Garrard is, but his ceiling is much higher than Garrard's. Through the 10 games David Garrard started in 2006, he regressed as the season went on. It became more apparent he was unable to go through the reads that a starting caliber NFL quarterback must make. Generally, reading a defense is something a quarterback either has, or doesn't. Quinn Gray has shown that he has this ability. While at the moment, David Garrard might be a better quarterback than Quinn Gray, Gray offers much more upside, especially to a team who is going to be putting an emphasis on passing the ball. Not only is Quinn Gray a better pure passer, but he seems to have better pocket presence, a better arm, and he has shown the ability to progress through his reads and read a defense. The Jaguars have seen what David Garrard offers them. In training camp and the preseason, the only one-up David Garrard seems to posses on Quinn Gray is that David Garrard was the incumbent number two quarterback when head coach Jack Del Rio and V.P. of Pro Player Personnel James Harris arrived. If Culpepper is brought to Jacksonville, it's now time to see what you have in Quinn Gray. You know what you have in David Garrard, a solid back-up. Quinn Gray can also be a solid back-up, but he's also shown ability in his limited NFL opportunities to be an NFL caliber quarterback. There is no sense if Culpepper is brought in to keep a solid back-up who's seemed to reach his peak, however, it makes perfect sense to keep a solid back-up with the potential to be a solid starting quarterback in the NFL.
I'll be honest, I was wavering a bit on who I thought would be the best quarterback for the Jaguars to keep on the roster if Daunte Culpepper is brought in. But after reading my esteemed colleague's thoughts, I am more sure than ever that the correct choice is David Garrard. Like Alfie said numerous times, David Garrard is currently a better quarterback than Quinn Gray. If Gray were so good, why hasn't he been able to unseat Garrard for the backup quarterback job? The same arguments that have been made against Garrard can certainly apply to Gray, in which they do well when a team doesn't have a chance to prepare for them. In Gray's two appearances (in four seasons as a pro), he has looked good, no doubt about it. But in those two appearances, he's played a third string Tennessee defense that was just looking to finish out the season, and a Kansas City prevent defense that was just looking to run out the clock. Sure, Gray's head moved around a bit in those two games, but there wasn't much of a pass rush to contend with. Another reason to let Gray go now is that he might be gone anyway after the '07 season. Quinn Gray is a free agent after '07, and he was making noise in the media earlier in the off-season about the team tendering him as a restricted free agent. If you cut Garrard now, you would probably lose Gray as well after '07. With Leftwich entering the final year of his contract as well, it is conceivable that the team would have just Culpepper entering '08. But what if Culpepper is only signed to a one-year deal, the team could potentially be left with no quarterbacks that are familiar at all with the offensive system.
If the Jaguars acquire Daunte Culpepper, I don't know if David Garrard would be second or third string. What I do know is that Garrard is certainly more ready to play at the NFL level than Gray is. Anyone who has seen a Jaguars practice can tell that. Garrard may not have as high of a ceiling as Gray, but if the team has to turn to a backup to fill in for a game or two, or four or five games, I'd feel more comfortable with Garrard. Garrard has led the Jaguars to victories in Philadelphia, over the eventual Super Bowl Champion Indianapolis Colts, over the Giants, and over the Dolphins last season alone. Sure, he didn't play his best football down the stretch, but he still beat out Quinn Gray for playing time. With David being locked up under contract for the next few seasons, he is certainly the most sensible way to go if the Jaguars do indeed acquire "the quarterback from south of here", as head coach Jack Del Rio would describe him.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Jagnation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com and Sportsillustated.com. Feel free to contact Charlie HERE