Garrett Gilbert is back with the Orlando Apollos. The first pick in the AAF’s “Protect or Pick” QB Draft was waived by the Carolina Panthers on December 31st. The Panthers had signed Gilbert to add QB depth heading into the last week of the season.
In his limited fourth quarter action, the SMU product led the Panthers down the field going 2/3 for 40 yards. He was able to end his first drive, in which he took over on the Carolina 30 yard line, with a field goal. He entered the game after Kyle Allen injured his shoulder.
Apollos fans have been asking what Gilbert being signed by the Panthers would mean for their team. All in all, just as we saw with the Josh Johnson, barring a deep playoff run, an NFL contract won’t keep these players away for long. What it does do, however, is provide NFL level tutilage during the AAF offseason. Not a bad tradeoff.
One question, in my mind, remains open. Does this set Garrett Gilbert back in the race for starting QB? If you read my article highlighting some observations of the first Apollos practice (you can find it HERE), you would see that I think this race is very, very close. With Stephen Morris, who is still my favorite to win the starting job, Austin Appleby, and Kevin Anderson on the team, soaking up valuable reps while Gilbert was clearing league protocols, the gap can begin to widen.
Yes, Gilbert was the first pick of the Apollos, and yes, he did get an NFL call-up, but that doesn’t make his spot on the depth chart a done deal. He will still have to learn THIS Apollos’ offense and build chemistry with THESE receivers. It will be interesting to see how this plays out throughout training camp.