I'll admit I had put little thought in to bringing in Caleb Hanie as an option for the Redskins quarterback situation, because I knew he had just 3 years of service time. Which means under just about any possible scenario of the new CBA Hanie would be a restricted free agent. So to me he was an intriguing young quarterback, but not one that was worth the Redskins trading draft picks for. Then I stumbled across an article on Rotoworld that stated that O.C. Mike Martz said that Hanie would have to beat out 5th rounder Nathan Enderle for the number 2 job. The article goes on to state quite a bit of support for Enderle and little acknowledgement of Hanie. Looking into it further I realized that the Bears put the lowest possible restricted tag on Hanie, which is known as original pick compensation. Since Hanie was undrafted an original pick tag, means that the Redskins wouldn't have to give up a draft pick, but the Bears do retain the right of first refusal.
Because of this, I think Hanie becomes a great target for the Redskins and could even be a longterm solution for the team. Now before everyone calls me crazy, hear me out.
While much is made of the success of first round quarterbacks, historically just as many very good-great quarterbacks come from non-first round picks. Usually about 7-10 of the top 16 quarterbacks (or top half) in the league (according to QB rating) are non-first rounders. There can be very good value out there, and sometimes yes these guys don't develop until they are on their 2nd or 3rd team.
The Redskins are a perfect example of why it is risky to just assume first round QB's are the answer. In the last 18 years the Redskins have drafted 3 1st rounders and brought in two other high priced first rounders, and what they have to show for it is; Heath Shuler, Jeff George, Patrick Ramsey, Jason Campbell and Donovan McNabb. Compare that to the late round QB's that they have had; Gus Frerotte, Trent Green, Brad Johnson and Mark Brunell, and it is no contest. Even factoring in the trading of picks for Johnson and Brunell and it's an easy win for the non-first rounders.
So why is Hanie a fit for the Redskins, and will the Bears let him walk?
Well one way or another the Redskins need to add a quarterback with at least starting potential to go along with John Beck. And as Parks' showed in his "Kicking the Tires" series, the market isn't too kind. Sure we could always bring back Rex Grossman or sign someone like Marc Bulger, but those are stopgap signings at best, and offer zero in the upside or potential department. Hanie on the other hand has just 3 years under his belt, and underwent a trial by fire in the NFC Championship game. He nearly led the Bears back, and was far more effective against the Packers than their high priced starter, Jay Cutler.
While I don't think too much can be made from just over one quarter of play, it is a lot more game action than the Jaguars ever saw of Mark Brunell or the Seahawks of Matt Hasselbeck before they traded for them. Hanie in that 15+ minutes of play, showed that he deserves a chance in this league whether it is this year or 2 years down the line.
As for the concern that the Redskins are primed to take a QB next year in the draft, and this could derail those plans, I don't think that is the case. Hanie is a relatively cheap option for a short and longterm option at quarterback. There is nothing that would prevent the Redskins from taking a QB in the first couple of rounds next year. Also, we don't know how the draft will play out for next season just yet. Some of the underclassmen could return to school, which would significantly dry up the 1st round talent pool. And as for Luck, if we are in a position to draft him then it probably means that Hanie wasn't the solution, and can just be a backup. In fact, having Hanie, could help our draft strategy because it means we won't have to reach for a signal caller. While, it is quite possible we end up with a top 5 or 10 pick in perfect position to grab a QB like Landry Jones, who knows we might luck our way into 7 or 8 wins. We do play the NFC West, as well as the Vikings, Panthers and Bills, if we win 5 of those games and steal 2 or 3 others it is feasibly possible. In that case we might be out of the top 15 meaning we'd likely have to reach for a QB. Instead we could take whatever our biggest need is (I'm guessing O-line) and take a QB in the 2nd or 3rd round to develop.
Now I know some people will say this is a moot point, because the Bears will simply match any offer to Hanie, but that doesn't seem likely. Chicago only had to add an extra $250K to their offer sheet to put a 2nd round tender on Hanie (which would guarantee them that he stays), but they declined to do so. Are they really going to match a 4 year, $14-16 million offer sheet? Especially if you front load it and guarantee much of the first two years, I don't see how they can match it. It is quite obvious that he is not part of their longterm plans so my guess is they'd be content to let him walk and sign some veteran.
As for the money I think a $3.5-4 million average is very fair, and a good deal for the Redskins (particularly if only the first 2 years have guaranteed money). Washington would have to shell out $2-3 million for a guy like Grossman or Bulger (and maybe more). And they would have to give that type of contract to Beck or another stopgap FA in 2012 if the Redskins go for a rookie in next year's draft. This would be just a slight increase in salary, but it comes with the potential of actually being a legitimate quarterback for the Redskins.
Steve Shoup has been a Redskins fan his entire life and dreams of the day they get back to the glory days of his youth. In addition to his regular piece on Hogs Haven, you can find his daily writings at Fanspeak.com.