Matt Hasselbeck, shown playing for the Colts in 2015, says he received a call from a playoff contender this NFL season. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

NFL teams understand the importance of landing a young franchise quarterback. But when one isn’t under contract, the list of attractive alternatives isn’t always bountiful. That can lead some teams to root through past rosters when investigating their options.

According to 43-year-old Matt Hasselbeck, that’s exactly what one playoff contender did this season.

Hasselbeck, who works as an NFL analyst for ESPN, told the Ringer’s Kevin Clark that a contending NFL team called him this year to inquire whether “he was in shape and available to sign.” Hasselbeck did not sign with any team.

The Boston College product played in the NFL from 1999 to 2015, compiling a 209-160 regular season record with the Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts. Hasselbeck went 5-6 in the postseason, including a trip to Super Bowl XL with the Seahawks.

The news of a team checking in on Hasselbeck naturally created more discussion about the younger and more athletic Colin Kaepernick, who has not played the past two seasons after initiating the pregame protests that roiled the league last season. Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL last year, alleging collusion; the case remains unresolved.

On the heels of the oldest staring quarterback matchup in NFL playoff history, pitting 41-year-old Tom Brady against 37-year-old Philip Rivers, the NFL could see that number topped if Brady and 40-year-old Drew Brees advance to Super Bowl LIII.

Hasselbeck told the Ringer that the league is made for quarterbacks to play longer than ever and that he has noticed an increase in the protections afforded to quarterbacks even in the three years since he last laced up his cleats. Hasselbeck said the NFL wants to preserve its star quarterbacks, even if the new rules penalize defensive players.

“The NFL took a stance: When the Vikings play the Packers, ‘We are not interested in DeShone Kizer against Trevor Siemian,'" Hasselbeck said. “They’ve said, ‘We don’t care if it is unfair to defensive players,' and the result has been that quarterbacks will get to play longer. Those guys, especially Brady and Brees, they could probably play until they are 45 if they really wanted to.”

Hasselbeck’s comments caused some to wonder whether the Washington Redskins were the mystery team that reached out to the 43-year-old, considering they tabbed NFL castoff Josh Johnson of the Alliance of American Football’s San Diego Fleet to back up (and eventually replace) Mark Sanchez. Before joining the Redskins, Johnson hadn’t started an NFL game since 2011 or appeared in a contest since 2013.

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