- This Redskins offseason got off to a bad start and has stayed somewhat sour...and it feels like it started with more than a month to go in the regular season. Once again, Redskins Nation finds itself battling the feeling that the owner just doesn’t get it while simultaneously facing gigantic question marks ahead of a season that is still eight months away. The real beauty is that some of the biggest question marks will not even be resolved before the season starts. Some may last into NEXT offseason. Sweet!
- Reports out of Redskins Park seem to indicate that the team would be pleasantly surprised if Alex Smith could play in 2019...which to me sounds like they would be shocked if Smith suited up next season. This hits the fanbase below the belt on a number of fronts. First and foremost, it means we have a guy getting $20 million—guaranteed—who likely won’t see the field next year. That is compounded by the fact that Smith has a cap hit of $21 million the following year! If the Redskins were to cut Smith before this season, it would mean a $40 million cap penalty in 2019, sooooooooooooo...yeah, the Redskins have crazy uncertainty at the most important position in sports and are paying top dollar for that uncertainty.
- Let’s set the 2019 table based on that information. Colt McCoy is the only quarterback under contract. I know everyone out there is joining me in the hope that Mark Sanchez has already seen his last day in burgundy and gold. While I respect Josh Johnson and the work he put in at the end of the season, I don’t think he is the guy we want to pair with Colt going into the season. I just don’t see the value or inspiration provided by having two 32-year old backups holding down the quarterback position. Based on his experience with Jay Gruden, McCoy is the one I would pick out of that pair. From here, the Redskins actually have some options. One of them is a LOT more preferable than the others, but here are two that came to mind right away:
- The Redskins draft a quarterback in the first round. Depending on how things progress from a slotted first round salary standpoint year-over-year, we are talking about a player that would come in on a four-year deal worth somewhere around $15 million, give or take. This player would come in and be allowed to compete immediately with Colt McCoy for the starter job, and Jay Gruden would go with his gut. I am not going to try and guess which guy we would draft at #15 at this point, as it kind of doesn’t matter for the purpose of this discussion. What we are looking for is a guy that has the chance to be able to play for us if and when Colt gets hurt. It would cost us the opportunity to draft an offensive skill player (tight end or wide receiver) or a much-needed defensive back. I think it is interesting that in this scenario, I don’t see the quarterback being asked to come in and be the savior right away. I think people would look at him as a cheap alternative in the short-term with possible value in the long-term if the team makes the right pick. The expectations would and should be much higher if we drafted a wide receiver or safety, as unfair as that sounds. The team would still be hoping that Alex Smith could come in and play ball in 2020—the Redskins likely can’t cut Smith until 2021 anyway. You know how I know that whatever rookie quarterback we draft will play great? Because it’s the easiest path to an offseason where we all beat each other up about who should start between Alex Smith and the rookie in his second year. Come on...that is just too easy of a prediction. It wasn’t that long ago that I was pushing for the team to draft a quarterback in the second or third round, but I have evolved to the point of thinking that if we are going to need anything out of a rookie signal-caller in 2019, I would at least like him to be a blue-chip, first round prospect.
- Option number two would have the Redskins begging a free agent quarterback to take a team-friendly deal...possibly in the one-year variety. Even Sam Bradford got $20 million last offseason (thanks Arizona). In this scenario, maybe the Redskins see the $40 million cap penalty of cutting Alex Smith as the guiding figure—either eat the Smith deal and take the pain, or keep the Smith deal and be willing to take that same kind of pain for one year by signing a guy to $15-$20 million on a one-year deal. Again, we can spin our wheels wondering who that quarterback would be, but the point is that Colt McCoy would be competing with a retread starter for the job in 2019. The team would still be banking on Smith returning in 2020, but would not have any youth at the quarterback position to speak of heading into the 2020 season. I would hope that this path would see the Redskins take a quarterback in next year’s draft to develop while Alex Smith held down the fort for one more year.
- In both scenarios, we are counting on Colt McCoy to play well. In both scenarios, we are counting on Alex Smith to be able to see the field again, though if the team drafts the right quarterback in this upcoming draft, that would lessen our dependence on #11 getting right again. If hope has anything to do with the decision, the first-round quarterback allows Redskins fans to hope and dream way more than signing a retread at top dollar. While first-round quarterbacks are almost always loaded up with pressure, I think this would be an exception to that given the team has both an established pro to turn to in Colt McCoy and the plan to have Alex Smith back in the fold for the 2020 campaign. To me, this would be a value play at the quarterback position because anyone who has already taken snaps in the league that we would have any interest in is going to cost too much (in my humble opinion). The Redskins have a chance to add a free agent or two at key spots elsewhere on the field that could help whatever quarterback is under center guide the team to wins. If they try and add a free agent quarterback, I fear that will leave them unable to really target anyone else that could meaningfully contribute. That leaves me in the position that drafting the first-round quarterback is the best move for the Redskins from both a short-term and long-term perspective. Honestly, it is an easy conclusion to arrive at, but we shouldn’t discount how much the team would love to have Alex Smith back in 2020. (We’re talking about Bruce Allen here folks...if he has a chance to make himself and his trade look good, you can bank on him taking that chance—meaning if Alex is healthy and ready to play, he will be our starter because Bruce is always right.) If you are like me and have been fighting the urge to go quarterback in the first round, let me know if you are now leaning my new way. If there are those of you out there wanting to get a free agent retread, hit me with a name and pricetag in the comments section below.
The quarterback situation in Washington remains...less than ideal.