Emergency QB Rule Could Complicate Vick, Pat White Situations
The league allows each team to have 45 active players each week. If no more than two of those players are quarterbacks, the team may designate a 46th player as its emergency third quarterback. If that player enters the game prior to the fourth quarter, then the first two quarterbacks on the roster are prohibited from returning to the game at any position at any time. So if the Eagles designate Vick as their third QB, they can't use him until the fourth quarter without losing Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb for the rest of the day.
My question is: who decides what a "bona fide quarterback" is? And the answer, apparently, is the NFL.
Each week, according to a league source, NFL officials are provided with a list of "bona fide quarterbacks," so that when teams submit their rosters 90 minutes prior to kickoff the officials can determine whether they're allowed the 46th player. The NFL monitors these lists and has the right to challenge a team on position designations if it thinks a team is trying to get away with something. The league can use a variety of methods, even including reviewing the team's practice tapes, to resolve disputes.
So say, for example, the Dolphins wanted to list White as a wide receiver. Not a ridiculous idea. Teams scouted White as a receiver prior to the draft, and he's never played in the league, so who is the NFL to tell the Dolphins what position he plays? The Jets carry Brad Smith as a receiver, and he played quarterback in college. And the Dolphins used running back Ronnie Brown as their wildcat quarterback on several occasions last year. The Dolphins could list Chad Pennington and Chad Henne as active QBs and White as a WR and still carry the emergency third QB. They could make a sound argument for this as a legitimate roster.
Well, apparently, if the league determined the Dolphins were trying to get around the rule, it has the right to go Big Brother on them and order them to list White as one of their "bona fide quarterbacks." Which would mean if he, Pennington and Henne were all part of the 45-man roster, they wouldn't be allowed a 46th.
"In order to designated a third quarterback/46th player on the game day roster, a club must have two and only two bona fide quarterbacks on its 45-man game day active roster," NFL spokesman Michael Signora said.
Eagles coach Andy Reid has continued to insist, since the team signed Vick, that Kolb will remain his No. 2 quarterback and Vick will be used a great deal in a variety of roles. Since the league is certain to count Vick as a "bona fide," that would seem to mean that the Eagles wouldn't be able to carry the emergency 46th player. Same with the Dolphins, who don't think White is ready to be the full-time backup ahead of Henne. And that would mean sacrificing a player who would otherwise have been active for each week's game -- a backup lineman or a special-teams player. While that doesn't sound major, the emphasis teams put on kick coverage and the return game is major, and for good reason. Somebody runs back a couple of punts against a shorthanded Eagles coverage team, they could end up wishing they had more roster flexibility.
Reid hasn't indicated much concern over this, and it's possible he's got it all worked out. Personally, I think the solution in Philly is simple. I'd make Vick play on special teams. There's a creative way to use him.