Nine years ago, Jeff Garcia was the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. And at that point, Garcia was considered to be old. He was 34 and beyond his prime, and he posted a shabby passer rating of 76.7 while losing eight of his 11 starts under center.
Nearly a decade later, the Browns quarterback situation is no more stable. Brandon Weeden is the NFL's third-lowest-rated qualifying quarterback with a completion percentage of just 52.8. Brian Hoyer is on injured reserve and current backup Jason Campbell is a less-than-ideal option at this point.
And while Garcia wasn't very good in Cleveland, the truth is that things have been so bad that he was still better than Weeden or almost anyone else the Browns have started at quarterback in recent years. Since the Browns were revived in 1999, only Kelly Holcomb and Trent Dilfer have posted higher passer ratings in that uniform.
And that might be why Garcia is — at the age of 43 — suggesting he'd be down to return to Cleveland.
— Keith Britton (@KeithBritton86) October 22, 2013
Don't get your hopes up, because the Browns apparently weren't interested in making a deal with Garcia, who hasn't thrown an NFL pass since 2008. But if things go even more sour and they change their mind, there could be some hope.
OK, not a lot of hope. But he might be able to at least take some snaps without pulling something. Garcia has been sticking with the game pretty faithfully. He's been training guys like JaMarcus Russell and Mark Sanchez, and keep in mind that he wasn't a full-time NFL starter until he was nearly 30 years old. That late start could be beneficial in terms of the shape he's in.
Plus, there are precedents for guys his age.
Vinny Testaverde started six games as a 44-year-old with the 2007 Carolina Panthers. He wasn't particularly good, but he avoided the emergency room while posting a 2-4 record. His completion percentage was just 54.6 and his passer rating was just 65.8, but those numbers are actually on par with what Weeden's been doing this year in Cleveland.
Warren Moon, who, like Garcia, got a late start after spending time in Canada, played in three games for Kansas City after his 43rd birthday in 1999, starting one. He completed only 16 of 37 passes, but he did manage to produce an even touchdown-to-interception ratio (1-to-1).
Another CFL veteran, Doug Flutie, completed five of his 10 passes in five appearances as a 43-year-old with the 2005 Patriots. He didn't turn the ball over, nor did he keel over.
But the best precedent for this situation comes from Steve DeBerg, who walked away at the age of 39 but came back as a 44-year-old in 1998. DeBerg actually posted an 80.4 passer rating that year as the backup quarterback on a Super Bowl team. He even stepped in for Chris Chandler one week, but the Falcons lost 28-3 and DeBerg was terrible.
So would Garcia save the Browns' season? Hell no. Could he fare better than Weeden or Campbell? It's quite possible.