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Thick Skin'd: Backup QB Edition

Who will be holding the clipboard for the Redskins this year, and will the Redskins be able to maintain their claim on the best 3rd string QB in the league with no Rex Grossman III on the roster?

The backup QB position will always be a hot topic for fans of the NFL, especially in Washington. When the three headed snake of Mike Shanahan, Bruce Allen, and Daniel Snyder made a deal with Les Snead and Jeff Fisher to obtain the #2 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, every Redskins fan knew that this was a franchise make or break move for the next decade. The Colts took Andrew Luck first overall, and the Redskin happily selected Robert Griffin III with the following pick. Then Mike Shanahan pulled a semi-shocking move and used his 3rd pick in the draft on another signal caller, QB Kirk Cousins. Some hailed it as a brilliant move to have two QBs learning at the same time and having a young, cheap insurance policy in place. The more prevalant opinion was that Shanahan had wasted a draft pick, created unnecessary competition for RGIII, and tried to get cute with the pick to look like an offensive genius.

In their rookie seasons, Griffin was hurt playing the Baltimore Ravens and Kirk Cousins came in to finish the game and secure the victory. The following week he got the start vs the Browns and also won the game. Then RGIII returned to face the Eagles and Cowboys to finish the 7 game winning streak that won the division for the Washington Redskins. Disaster struck in the playoffs and Griffin's knee was re-injured leaving Cousins to try to salvage the season, but it was too little, too late.

Fast forward to 2013 and Kirk Cousins was taking every snap in training camp, and starting preseason games until injuring his foot. RGIII returned Week 1 vs the Eagles, but was obviously still feeling the physical and mental effects of his ACL injury. By Week 14, Darth Shanahan had decided it was in the best interest of his image/reputation the team/RGIII's health to sit him for the final three weeks of the season. Kirk Cousins had been getting calls to start from the media and fans alike before the official decision, and they got their wish to finish the season. The results? 69 for 130(53.1 comp%), 747 yards(249 yards/g), 4 TDs, 5 INTs, 2 Fumbles, 2 Fumbles lost., and 0 wins. Shanahan claimed he wanted to get a 1st round pick for Cousins in trade the following year.

"If he lights it up, hey, maybe we can bring a first-round draft choice back to this organization, and say hey, who are we gonna take in the first round," Shanahan said. "And I think by him playing and Robert not playing, it gives us a chance to have a few options for our organization that we wouldn’t normally have, and the safety of our quarterback going into the offseason is preserved….And we’re still getting a chance to see a guy that we’ve got a lot of confidence in go out there and play. And his value can only go up. It cannot go down. It can only go up."

Seventeen days later Shanahan was fired, Cousins value had indeed been hurt by his play in the last 3 games, and Shanahan left the Redskins with a few parting gifts. A benched franchise QB, a devalued backup, and months of leaks to the media leading up to his departure from the team.

Enter new GM Bruce Allen, and new Head Coach Jay Gruden and a new set of questions. Gruden has made it very clear that RGIII is the starter and franchise QB of the Washington Redskins, sorry Cult of Cousins members. That leaves the following questions. Will the team try to trade Kirk Cousins before the start of the 2014 season? How much can they get in return from a trade? Who will be the team's backup QB for the Redskins if Cousins is starting for the Browns?

Earlier this month, the Redskins signed QB Colt McCoy to a vet minimum, Minimum Salary Benefit 1 year contract. This started speculation that Cousins was definitely on the trade block. At the Owner's meetings last month, Coach Gruden indicated that they had not received any calls about a trade for Cousins, and they were fine with keeping him as the backup QB.

So what options do the Redskins have for this season, and what other backup QB options are available?

Option #1: Trade Cousins, Colt McCoy Backup QB, Draft QB/Sign UDFA

Trading Cousins would give the Redskins at least one extra pick in this year's draft, and with only 6 picks this year, it would help restock the roster. McCoy has starting experience, and should be able to handle the backup role. Drafting a QB late or signing one to the practice squad gives the team another cheap option at backup for next year if they decide to only use McCoy for one year as a placeholder.

Option #2: Trade Cousins, Claim Terrelle Pryor(If he's cut), Keep McCoy

Terrelle Pryor has been on the trade block for months by the Oakland Raiders, and is reportedly going to be released today if they can't get a deal for him. Pryor is a low risk claim($750k 1 year contract, no dead money, $185k increase in the Skins cap). Gruden's teams typically keep 2 QBs on the roster so claiming Pryor will give the team depth and arms for training camp and preseason. Gruden can then keep the better backup, and cut the other backup little or no cap hit.

Option #3: Keep Cousins this year, Claim Pryor, Keep McCoy

No trade comes through, or Gruden just decides to keep Cousins on the team as the best backup option available. Claim Pryor for a camp arm, and let him compete with McCoy for the #3 QB spot. Keep 3 QBs as insurance in case of an injury to RGIII

Option #4: Trade RGIII, Start Cousins, Sign Tebow to Compete

The Daniel Kelly/BDOG option. No other explanation required.