What does the future hold for Zabransky?

Before I even begin, let me state that Ricky Ray is the unquestioned leader and starting quarterback of the Eskimos. If you want to read why, read this article. Second, Jason Maas can still get it done as a backup in the CFL. Even without stepping on field, he is a leader on the team that keeps the players jumping on the sidelines with his unbridled enthusiasm and emotion. So that leaves Jared Zabransky as the third quarterback on the roster for the 2010 season.

Now here is where the question comes in. Ray will be 31-years old in the fall, and is entering his 11th season of professional football. Hardly ready to be put out to pasture, but he had played a lot of ball. As long as he is healthy, he will be the man lining up behind centre, but he has fewer seasons left than he has played. Maas will be 35 years of age by the time the Grey Cup is presented, and probably only has one or two seasons left in the CFL. Zabransky meanwhile, is only 26-years old and is entering his second season with the Eskimos. He is clearly talented, and has the ability to run with the football if needed. He represents the future, but is that future with Edmonton?

Let’s step out on a limb for a moment and say that Maas retires after this season. It’s a pretty big assumption, but play along for the moment. That leaves Zabransky as the number two man on the depth chart. That would be number two, with Ray standing between Zabransky and legitimate playing time. So what do the Eskimos do with their talented young quarterback?

Keep Him

Having a good back-up is vitally important to a team’s success in the CFL, as the starter is only one play away from the IR. Last year in the CFL, three backup quarterbacks passed for more than 1,000 yards. A fourth, Adrian McPherson of Montreal, played a significant number of snaps, being used as a running quarterback on select plays. McPherson also passed for 506 yards and six touchdowns, not insignificant numbers. So that means that half the league was either forced to, or chose to, use their backup pivot. With Zabransky in the lineup, it gives the Eskimos a legitimate option who will have spent the two previous seasons learning the Eskimos systems. So maybe they should keep him.

Trade Him

On the other hand, they could potentially use Zabransky as trade bait. Steven Jyles,who is now competing for the starter’s job in Winnipeg, spent his first two years in the CFL in Edmonton before being traded to Saskatchewan prior to the arrival of Zabransky in Edmonton. The Eskimos of course received Fred Perry in return. Pretty decent value at the time for a third string quarterback with only potential to offer. The Eskimos received a player that actually contributed on the field for one that wasn’t. Zabransky could probably fetch a similar price on the trade market, which would allow the Eskimos to fill a hole in their starting roster. Added to that, Ricky Ray has proven to be pretty durable during his career, so if Maas retires, maybe the Green & Gold bring in a veteran backup and find another prospect to develop. That new prospect would probably be ready to step in about the time that Ray could be considering retirement.

What to do?

There are arguments for both sides of the equation, but the smart money would probably be that the Eskimos keep Zabransky for at least one more year. He’s fairly young, and having a guy who the organization has developed for two years is a pretty decent backup plan should Ray get injured. The Eskimos may even try to use Zabransky’s running ability in much the same way as Montreal uses McPherson. Either way, the Eskimos are developing a pretty good asset that one day will benefit the team, one way or another.

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3 responses to this post.

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by CFL News fan, Esks Nation. Esks Nation said: Green Grass: What does the future hold for Zabransky? http://tinyurl.com/22q37q2 Pondering the long term future of the Esks QB prospect. […]

    Reply

  2. Posted by TurfToe on June 10, 2010 at 8:57 am

    Good stuff. I wonder, however, if teams may be a bit ‘shy’ of trading for an EE back up. LeFors and Jyles haven’t exactly turned out to be be gamers they were thought to be.

    Reply

  3. @ TurfToe

    You raise a very good point. This could be something to consider, but teams usually evaluate players on a case by case basis. Teams that don’t have a franchise quarterback like Ricky Ray or Anthony Calvillo are always looking for that next guy that could become that difference maker. Zabransky has shown some flashes of what his potential might be, and it could be enough to make another team part with a good asset.

    Reply

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