Ranking every possible NFL landing spot for Nathan Rourke

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In sports as in real estate, it is all about location, location, location.

As Canadian quarterbacking sensation Nathan Rourke begins to work out for NFL teams, he’ll be evaluating his suitors as much as they will be evaluating him. The 24-year-old CFL star has reportedly received some degree of interest from two-thirds of the teams south of the border, but he won’t leave the B.C. Lions for just anybody.

Rourke has made clear that he is looking for a legitimate shot at a number two job next year, with the potential to take over as starter somewhere down the road. He isn’t interested in being buried on an NFL practice roster or landing somewhere where he’ll never see the field.

The perfect destination for Kid Canada must be a team with an opening at backup quarterback and a middle-of-the-pack starter, someone whose job is safe for now but not forever. Those franchises desperate to draft a quarterback need not apply, as everyone knows vying for playtime with a first-round pick is a losing battle.

While the list of teams planning to work out Rourke remains a closely guarded secret, that won’t stop us from speculating about his best fits. Here are all 32 NFL franchises, ranked from his worst potential landing spot to his very best.

Nathan Rourke destination rankings

32. Houston Texans — The terrible Texans are the front runners for the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and will no doubt be acquiring a young star at quarterback when they get on the clock. That isn’t a good scenario for an undrafted CFL signee to earn a role in.

31. Carolina Panthers — The quarterback situation in Charlotte is an absolute mess, with Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold both proving to be absolute busts in the final year of their respective deals. Expect the team to finally draft a franchise guy in the top five.

30. Washington Commanders — I wouldn’t expect to see either Carson Wentz or Taylor Heinicke back in DC next year as this team razes the quarterback room to the ground. They may be in a rough situation to find the next guy via the draft given their decent record, but would Rourke really want to touch this organization with a ten-foot pole anyway?

29. Detroit Lions — Jared Goff is exactly the type of quarterback you’d like Rourke to angle himself to get behind but it is too late to do so now. The Lions have a feasible way to get out of his contract this offseason, and two first-round picks to go up and get the quarterback of their choosing on draft day.

28. New York Jets — Roster uncertainty will be Rourke’s enemy when making his decision and the Jets have a ton after benching Zach Wilson. They could be poised to take a shot at a big-name quarterback through trade or the draft, with Mike White and Joe Flacco both being pending free agents.

27. Indianapolis Colts — The Colts’ QB room is the type of dumpster fire you don’t want to go anywhere near, with Matt Ryan, Nick Foles and Sam Ehlinger all under contract. Ryan will likely get cut but that means a big-time player could be on the way in to replace him, one way or another.

26. Pittsburgh Steelers — The Steelers just spent a first-rounder on Kenny Pickett and still have Mitch Trubisky under contract, basically ruling out Rourke.

25. Baltimore Ravens — Lamar Jackson’s refusal to sign a contract extension thus far has been the source of plenty of speculation but the Ravens will almost certainly get him inked or franchise tag him. Rourke simply doesn’t seem like a fit for the Baltimore offence.

24. Arizona Cardinals — Rourke won’t need any clause in his contract demanding he watch film but the Cardinals aren’t a good destination due to Kyler Murray’s new deal and Colt McCoy’s continued presence as the backup.

23. New York Giants — Daniel Jones likely won’t get re-signed this offseason but you can bet a Giants team flush with cap space will make a big swing at the position, with Tyrod Taylor sticking around as insurance.

22. Buffalo Bills — Josh Allen’s ascent to the NFL’s upper echelons makes this an unlikely landing spot, particularly if Case Keenum or Matt Barkley re-signs.

21. Dallas Cowboys — B.C. Lions owner Amar Doman has probably talked his buddy Jerry Jones’ ear off about his young quarterback, but America’s Team still has Dak Prescott and they should be high enough on Cooper Rush to re-sign him as well.

20. Cleveland Browns — For better or worse, the Browns have their quarterback in Deshaun Watson. Even with Jacoby Brissett’s contract expiring, I’m not sure Rourke would fit in that quarterback room.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — The Bucs may be looking for a new starter with Tom Brady’s contract expiring but that sort of vacuum on top of the depth chart is something Rourke should be wary of given the possibility of big free agent signings or draft day maneuvering. Add in former second-round pick Kyle Trask still waiting in the wings and Tampa Bay looks much less enticing as a destination.

18. Kansas City Chiefs — Chad Henne may not have another year in him as the Chiefs’ backup, but sitting behind Patrick Mahomes might be the least likely path to the field in the entire NFL.

17. Cincinnati Bengals — Former CFL third-stringer Zac Taylor could be looking for a backup with Brandon Allen and Jake Browning on expiring deals, but there is no avenue to start in the future with Joe Burrow in the house.

16. Los Angeles Chargers — Chase Daniels and Easton Stick are in the final year of their contracts, but Justin Herbert isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

15. Miami Dolphins — There could be a spot open behind Tua Tagovailoa if Teddy Bridgewater moves on, but the play of the former Alabama star when healthy this season doesn’t leave much room for growth into a starting role.

14. Chicago Bears — Justin Fields has been better of late, showing off his ability to run the ball, but this does not look like a Bears team entirely set at quarterback. Sitting behind Fields could provide a path to starting down the line, but I wonder if the team will consider taking another swing at the position with a top-five draft pick potentially coming their way.

13. Tennessee Titans — Ryan Tannehill appears to have plateaued as a starter but recent third-round pick Malik Willis looming behind him should be enough to keep Rourke away.

12. Atlanta Falcons — I’m not convinced that Marcus Mariota is a viable long-term solution in Atlanta, but Desmond Ridder was a high enough draft pick to make a shot at the number two gig difficult.

11. Jacksonville Jaguars — The Jags’ depth behind Trevor Lawrence are all on expiring deals and the former number one overall pick hasn’t lived up to his generational expectations quite yet. It seems like a long shot that Lawrence would bust entirely but there are worse guys in the NFL to sit behind.

10. New England Patriots — The Pats find themselves much higher on this list than other teams with a quarterback controversy because I feel Rourke is a great fit for their system. Nevertheless, New England either has two starting quarterbacks in Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe or none at all, depending on your perspective. That makes it tough to see action in Foxborough.

9. New Orleans Saints — Unfortunately for fans in Louisiana, the Saints are stuck in quarterback purgatory without a first-round pick. They could attempt to sign a mid-tier starter but if either Andy Dalton or Jameis Winston ends up returning as the guy, Rourke would be a smart addition.

8. Philadelphia Eagles — Jalen Hurts has blossomed into a star this season but still needs to prove he’s more than a flash in the pan. With Gardner Minshew expected to hit free agency, there is no doubt in my mind that Rourke could beat out Ian Book to be the backup on a good team.

7. San Francisco 49ers — Rourke would mesh nicely into a Kyle Shanahan offence but the Niners’ QB situation is a little chaotic. The backup job will be open with Jimmy Garoppolo expected to hit free agency, but the transition to Trey Lance after injury may demand a more experienced clipboard holder.

6. Green Bay Packers — It sure looks like Aaron Rodgers will be traded out of Green Bay this offseason and the Packers will take the leap with their unproven former first-round pick Jordan Love. He’s looked awfully good coming off the bench at times but starting is another matter, meaning a savvy backup could be well-positioned for success if Love were to falter in the final few years of his rookie contract.

5. Las Vegas Raiders — Derek Carr is about as close to the median line for NFL quarterbacking as you’ll find but the Raiders remain committed to him for now. However, the 31-year-old is closer to the end of his tenure as starter than he is to the beginning of it and there should be an opening for the next man up in Sin City.

4. Minnesota Vikings — Kirk Cousins is playing well right now and the Vikings are legitimate contenders as a result, but the 34-year-old is never far removed from fans calling for his head. Scheduled to enter the final year of his contract next season, Minnesota will need to make a tough choice about their future at quarterback and Rourke could give them something extra to think about if he replaced pending free agent Nick Mullens as the backup.

3. Seattle Seahawks — Geno Smith has come out of nowhere to become one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks this season and the pending free agent has almost certainly earned himself a new contract. What remains to be seen is how sustainable his sudden success can be, making nearby Seattle one of the most intriguing destinations for B.C.’s favourite son. The only major concern here is that the Seahawks do possess two first-round picks and could theoretically double-dip by drafting a quarterback of the future and re-signing Smith.

2. Denver Broncos — Despite his horrific play this year, Russell Wilson’s absurd cap hit makes it virtually impossible for the Broncos to cut him until 2024. With no draft picks until the third round, that leaves an almost perfect scenario for Rourke to come in as an upgrade at the number two spot and position himself as Wilson’s successor — though the team’s inevitable coaching change adds an element of uncertainty here.

1. Los Angeles Rams — After delivering the Rams a Super Bowl victory, Matthew Stafford’s career appears to have hit the wall hard. LA has neither the cap space nor the draft capital to effectively move on from him right now, making a player like Rourke an extremely valuable commodity for the franchise. Head coach Sean McVay has entrusted former AAF quarterback John Wolford with backup duties since 2019 and could find another kindred spirit in the CFL star.

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and high school football coach. He covers the CFL, B.C. Lions, CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.