Jaguars gambit to sign Nathan Rourke to the practice squad pays off

• Nathan Rourke seemed like a good candidate to make the Jaguars roster in 2023

• He was instead waived and signed to the practice squad

• It was a bold strategy, yet it paid off

Aug 26, 2023; Jacksonville, Florida, USA;  Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Nathan Rourke (18).
Aug 26, 2023; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Nathan Rourke (18). / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Third-string quarterback Nathan Rourke turned heads in the preseason and seemed like a strong candidate to make the Jacksonville Jaguars roster in 2023. However, he was given his walking papers during roster cutdown day.

Rourke went unclaimed on waivers and landed on the Jags' practice squad. They then allocated the roster spot that would've gone to Rourke to another position. But if they ever need him, they can promote him to the active roster All things considered, this was some pretty good management by the team's brass.

Clubs can dress an emergency quarterback for game day but he had to be on the 53-man roster to be eligible. This led to questions about the Jaguars potentially carrying Rourke into the regular season. The fact that he had a solid offseason and an even better preseason made it seem like he would indeed make the cut.

However, offensive coordinator Press Taylor said before the finale against the Miami Dolphins that he and the team were unsure whether Rourke would indeed be the third signal-caller on the depth chart next season. Everyone found out the resolution when the Jags waived him.

Rourke is now in the practice squad but it was a bit of a risky maneuver from the Jaguars' end of things. After all, he was subject to waivers and if another team had claimed him, they would have had to find another quarterback. This would have been sort of a setback when you take into account that Jacksonville hadn't brought in another passer during the offseason and all the time they invested in him would've gone to waste.

Having played two seasons for the B.C. Lions in the CFL, Rourke garnered interest from several teams in the NFL before signing with the Jaguars in January. Taylor's offseason praise of him was validated when he went 23-of-25 for 348 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions in three preseason games.

The Jaguars surely hope they'll never have to promote Nathan Rourke to the active roster

Teams hope they'll never have to resort to their third-string quarterback but injuries can strike at any time and they must be prepared for the worst-case scenario. By keeping Nathan Rourke, the Jaguars are ensuring they have insurance in case Trevor Lawrence or CJ Beathard has to miss time in 2023.

Also, keeping Rourke around gives them options at the position next season. If they see enough from him, they could have the British Columbia native compete with Beathard for the top backup job. Another possibility is that another club considers trading for Rourke and gets in touch with the Jaguars. This is a realistic scenario given the demand and lack of supply at the position around the league.

Heading into the 2023 season, the Jaguars have depth at most position groups, and that includes quarterback. Lawrence is poised to have another great year but they must feel comfortable about their quarterback room. Some teams don't even have a starter, Jacksonville, meanwhile, has three.

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