Label them backups
The starter in waiting: The Patriots’ starter-in-waiting backup situation is the best kind in the NFL. Perhaps there is no 1-2 punch better than Tom Brady and backup Jimmy Garoppolo, who has completed 67 percent of his throws for 690 yards, five touchdowns and no picks in his relief appearances. The Bears (Mitchell Trubisky) and Chiefs (Patrick Mahomes) have 2017 No. 1 picks on the bench.
The unknown commodity: The more untested backup quarterbacks, such as the Bengals’ A.J. McCarron, always inspire confidence from wishful fan bases. The former Alabama quarterback threw for 854 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions during his only meaningful NFL action in 2015.
The flamed-out starter: The flamed-out starter also brings about hope from fan bases as a possible retread. That’s where the Eagles’ Nick Foles checks in behind starter Carson Wentz. Foles had one of the NFL’s best runs for the Eagles in 2013, when he posted a 119.2 QB rating with 27 touchdowns to two interceptions.
The journeyman: Case Keenum might qualify as a retread backup, but he’s 9-8 as a starter since beginning his career 0-8 with a wretched 2013 Texans team that finished 2-14. He has a career 77.8 QB rating with 24 touchdowns to 20 interceptions.