The Chargers decided to take the rookie Easton Stick over Cardale Jones, who they traded for a few years ago. Was it a good decision?
The Cardale Jones experiment began back in 2017 when the Chargers traded a 7th round-pick for the Bills’ quarterback. Anthony Lynn liked what he had seen from his time with the Bills, and decided to take a low-risk flier on a player with some upside. It made sense at the time, and still makes sense; trying to see what was left in the former national champion was a great idea.
Jones wasn’t ready his first preseason, as he had just been traded and was learning the playbook. The 2018 preseason was a better test of where Cardale was at; unfortunately, it was somewhat of a mixed result. Jones played about average and took better care of the ball, but he still didn’t flash anything that showed future potential to take over as the guy. He was cut and then brought back on a future/reserve contract.
When the Chargers selected Easton Stick, it was a surprise. The signing of Tyrod Taylor seemed like it was the final quarterback acquisition that would happen at the time, and maybe there’d be a chance in the preseason to see if Cardale could get the third quarterback spot. After the draft, those chances began to drop dramatically. The fifth round isn’t super high, but the fact still remained the team was sinking draft capital into a quarterback for the first time since 2013.
Jones would need a magical preseason and probably hope Stick flamed out to be able to stay on the team. Jones’ preseason would end up being really good; at least, after the first game. He had the most completions, highest yards per attempt, fewest interceptions, and highest quarterback rating of all Chargers quarterbacks. Still, it was time for the team to move on.
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) August 9, 2019
Stick’s athleticism is also at a higher level at this point in their careers. The prospect of having a quarterback with dynamic athleticism and speed appeals more than Jones. It’s not a deal breaker, but Stick being able to keep plays alive more often with the pressure coming down on the pocket is a nice skill to have. Jones ran a little more in this past preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers, but he wasn’t as consistently flashy as Stick was for an entire preseason.
Jones, right now, is better than Stick; no one should try to debate that. But how big is the difference? If the difference is more negligible than not, Stick is the choice with this presumably being him at the beginning, still learning the playbook. Stick’s biggest Achilles heel so far has been interceptions, but he’s shown more than enough to make him a project worth developing.
It’s also fair to judge Jones more harshly considering how long he’s been here. The conservatism in his game as well as the lack of pocket presence when it collapses was apparent through all three of his years with the team. He was better this year, but not better to the point of giving up the potential of Stick. The draft capital, the speed, the spark he provided to the offense in games where Jones was conservative were the big reasons Stick made this team. And for what it’s worth, Jones will now have a chance to become a relevant part of a roster, rather than stashed on the practice squad of a team with no plans for him in their future.