One year after being given an opportunity to play in the NFL, former LSU Tigers quarterback Danny Etling‘s tenure with the New England Patriots came to an end on Tuesday. Fortunately, though, it hasn’t taken him long at all to find his next NFL team.
On Wednesday, the Atlanta Falcons announced that they have claimed Danny Etling off of waivers after having put in a claim for him following his release from the Patriots. Etling is now the fourth quarterback on the Falcons’ roster, joining Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub, and the recently-signed Matt Simms. A corresponding roster move by the Falcons has yet to be announced as of Wednesday evening.
After serving as the Tigers’ starting quarterback for the 2016 and 2017 seasons, Etling earned a chance in the NFL when the Patriots took a flier on him in the 2018 NFL Draft, selecting him with the No. 219-overall pick in the seventh round. Etling did not make the Patriots’ 53-man roster, but spent the season on the team’s practice squad. Following the Patriots’ triumph in Super Bowl LIII, Etling was among a group of players signed to a reserve/futures contract.
With the Patriots’ selection of yet another quarterback in this year’s Draft – Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham – Etling’s roster status was instantly thrown into question. Early in training camp, Etling was given another opportunity for a potential roster spot, as the Patriots began experimenting with using him as a wide receiver. That experiment, however, did not yield great results.
According to a report by Mike Reiss of ESPN, Etling was targeted on two passes that ended up being interceptions during Monday’s practice, including one that came on a catch that Etling bobbled. This came just days after Etling was penalized for illegal formation during the Patriots’ preseason opener against the Detroit Lions, and also was unsuccessful in catching a potential fourth-down conversion. By Tuesday, Etling was made expendable to make room for newly-acquired tight end Eric Saubert – who, appropriately enough, comes from the Falcons.
Etling’s opportunity with the Falcons now comes, in part, because of the attrition they have experienced early in the preseason: Despite an impressive showing in the Pro Football Hall of Fame game, third-string quarterback Kurt Benkert‘s efforts to win the backup quarterback job were foiled by a toe injury that landed him on Injured Reserve. In all likelihood, Etling will now compete with Simms for third-string snaps, as well as a potential upset of Schaub for the backup spot.
Etling is now the fifth member of the Falcons’ roster to have played college football at LSU: Pro Bowl linebacker Deion Jones headlines that group, which also includes fellow linebacker Duke Riley, wide receiver Russell Gage, and safety Ronald Martin.