If he gets an offer from an NFL team, he needs to ask some questions
By Kent Gilchrist,
It is the quarterbacking controversy that won't die -- or take the winter off, either.
There is no shortage of elements to keep the thing percolating. The most important issue, of course, is do the Lions want veteran campaigner Dave Dickenson as their guy, or do they want the young upstart Casey Printers?
Other questions involve the Printers camp, which is shopping his athletic ability to any NFL team interested in giving them 60 minutes or so of their time. Do they choose the bright lights of NFL now, when he has only a couple of thimblefuls of experience? Do they re-sign with the Lions, who are offering a starter's salary of $400,000 per year for the next three seasons and believe that the Lions will keep him (rather than trade him to a team that might not be as good) over the veteran Dickenson?
And you have the club management, which is still in the cat-bird seat. President and CEO Bob Ackles and head coach/general manager Wally Buono know which way they want to go, but will they share this with either of the principals?
The only one with virtually no say is Dickenson, who spotted the Lions to a 10-0 start last season before watching it all unravel. He could be the starter or be traded to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, or some place worse.
But when you look at young Mr. Printers, you see Henry Burris five years ago at the end of the 2000 CFL season with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, where he'd been a starter for the first time in a four-year CFL career. He'd spent the first three with Buono in Calgary, ironically. Burris's stats in 2000 were similar to Printers' in 2004, the year he was named most outstanding player.
Burris, remember, took his smile, athletic ability and limited experience to the Green Bay Packers, where somebody named Brett Favre was the man.
Then he went to an awful Chicago Bears team and NFL Europe before coming back to the CFL with his tail between his legs, leaving behind his confidence and some other intangibles he was just starting to develop before he left the CFL in the first place.
That's the other thing Printers is going to have to weigh.
If he gets an offer from an NFL team that is comparable to or better than the one the Lions are dangling, will the offer be one that is going to (a) be good in two or three years' time and (b) give him a chance to develop behind an older, veteran guy?
Let's face it, upper-echelon NFL teams have young, established quarterbacks in whom they have invested millions. Printers might be able to go to somebody like the Phoenix Cardinals, who seldom win, but is that the right move at this stage of his development?
Finding the right team willing to pay him enough up-front money, give him a chance, and allow him time to develop --now that's a tall order.
Whatever Printers and his advisers end up doing, it's going to be a bit of a gamble. From here it makes sense for him to come back to the Lions, who look more and more like an organization that thinks it has a better chance of winning with him than with the oft-injured Dickenson.
By his next option year, Printers would be 27, and as NFL-ready as Warren Moon was.