- With free agency set to begin in less than a month—well before the NFL Draft in late April—’tis the season to make wishlists. Redskins fans are kind of experts in the fields of wishing and making lists. Between hoping for things that have no chance of happening and writing down the names of players that have no chance of playing for us on a list, Redskins fans bring an A+ game. As we survey the landscape of the league and assess how it lines up versus the needs of the burgundy and gold, something occurs to me: the upcoming game of quarterback musical chairs could actually leave a player or two without a seat. I think this is just an overly positive way of stating that somebody who technically knows how to play quarterback might not be offered the contract him and his agent are looking for this spring. (In case I haven’t yet repeated today what we all know—the Redskins are looking for a quarterback.) It seems the Redskins have already been active in the search for a signal-caller, with ESPN and others reporting that Washington was interested in trading for Joe Flacco. I thought I would make try and straddle the line between wishing and wagering, coming up with a group of five players that would look good for us under center next season and probably wouldn’t destroy our ability to ultimately recover from this very unenviable position. I expect this list will change—probably by the end of the day—but I thought I would start with two free agent options, one trade option and two draft options. I am not ranking them necessarily at this point, though I have been pretty firm in my belief that the best outcome for the Redskins at this point would be to draft a quarterback they like at #15 who makes somewhere around $16 million on a four-year deal. Whether you think Alex Smith plays again or not, I think mining cheap, young talent from the draft this spring sets the Redskins up best (in the short-term and in the long-term).
- The first free agent option that comes to my mind is none other than the pride of Harvard himself, Ryan Fitzpatrick. The 36-year old magician played last season on a one-year deal for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for $3.3 million, though it will surely cost more than that to secure his services going forward. Teammates love playing with this guy, despite some inconsistency throughout his career. Most teams are probably looking at him as a backup candidate who can start in a pinch. The more teams that view him as a backup, the better, as this will keep him affordable. The Redskins could credibly pursue him as a “backup” to Colt McCoy (technically also a backup), with the promise of an actual competition in camp to determine who starts on opening day. I can honestly say that if the Redskins were to sign Fitzmagic, I would be happy about it, and I would look forward to seeing him battle Colt in camp. He brings the perfect blend of excitement and beard to the table, and the bidding war for a guy who is turning 37-years old simply should not be that robust. This move would also free the Redskins from feeling forced to burn a first rounder on a quarterback this April. A one-year deal for Fitz would punt the quarterback situation down the road another season, and as we all know, our punting game is strong.
- Of course Teddy Bridgewater has more upside to a franchise than Ryan Fitzpatrick. Of course a guy who is ten years younger that has had the chance to study under Drew Brees brings serious value to your team. The problem for the Redskins, who likely LOVE the idea of signing a player like Teddy Bridgewater, is that this free agent might be the hottest commodity on the market. For those playing the home version of this game, that means the Redskins almost certainly will be unable to afford him. I love the thought of Bridgewater under center for us—he’s mobile, he makes solid decisions, he’s accurate and he’s 26-years old. What I can’t understand is how we would make the deal that would be required to sign fit into our salary cap as well as our long-term plans. Remember, no matter what you think about Alex Smith, we are going to be fed a healthy dose of, “Alex Smith will be our starter in 2020.” That will be a tough pill to swallow for a young free agent who sees himself as a starter this year and beyond. It also makes sense to point out that between Alex Smith and Teddy Bridgewater, we could be paying roughly $40 million per year for two healthy legs. That seems...high to me.
- I’m not entertaining the idea of Nick Foles, Tyrod Taylor or Josh McCown today. These guys aren’t just qualified to play in the league, they are all INSANELY qualified to add their names to a list that features such gems as Rex Grossman, John Beck, Todd Collins, Danny Wuerffel, Tony Banks, Kent Graham, and Jeff George. That’s right...I just cherry-picked the recent history of Redskins quarterbacks, deeming names like Mark Brunell, Patrick Ramsey, Jason Campbell, Jeff Hostetler and Gus Frerotte to be a step higher than the names I listed. Instead, I will move to a trade candidate, and I am not talking about Case Keenum (he could run for president of the above list...either one). Let’s toss out the idea of trading for Nick Mullens, the signal-caller out of Southern Miss that stepped into the starter’s role for the San Francisco 49ers after Jimmy Garoppolo went down in his rookie year. He is owed $570,000 in the second year of his two-year rookie deal, so he checks the affordability box in a major way. One of the main problems I see because of that is that he is basically free insurance for the 49ers in case Jimmy Garoppolo gets hurt again. Someone would have to offer me something pretty damn good to get me to part with a backup quarterback with starting experience in my own system who is making minimum wage. I would prefer that Bruce Allen NOT be allowed to bid on such a player, as I would be concerned about what he would be willing to pay. After all, there is no way Bruce Allen is still here in 2020, right? (Just thinking positively here, folks.) You all know I have been and remain a Brett Favre guy, and Mullens busted up Brett’s Southern Miss records, so his addition would warm my heart. I’m just afraid it would burn other parts of me.
- Should the Redskins reach the draft in late April without having added a free agent quarterback, the writing will be on the wall. It will then be a question of who the Redskins will draft (likely in the first round) and not if they will take a quarterback. Just as there are more free agent options than the two slots I gave them today, there are more than two options in the draft category as well. In fact, as I mention above, we might be talking about a serious buyer’s market in terms of the quarterback position. I haven’t even mentioned the names of guys like Blake Bortles and Ryan Tannehill. If enough teams make moves for veterans, the Redskins could actually have a choice to make at #15 instead of settling for the guy that falls to them. Let’s start with some Daniel Jones action. I will preface my Daniel Jones thought with this: every year, a quarterback coming out of college captures the fancies of front offices in a way that...uhhhh...isn’t healthy. They get hung up on who may have coached the kid in college, as well as raw numbers like height and arm strength. This player ends up jumping up draft boards every year. I think that Daniel Jones has the chance to be that player this year, which means he won’t be around for the Redskins to draft in the middle of the first. Should he be there at #15 though, I would be writing his name down feverishly on a card and racing it up to the podium. I mean, the guy was coached by David Cutcliffe at Duke...and have you seen his size and arm strength?!?!?! Daniel Jones is probably the quarterback I MOST want of the first-round guys, but again, I see him as potentially the first quarterback chosen, which means he won’t be a Redskin.
- My main goal in drafting a quarterback at #15 overall is to add a blue-chip prospect on an affordable four-year deal. After all, Alex Smith is going to be starting for us in 2020, right? I am not sold on Dwayne Haskins as the guy for this situation (one in which he would be “competing” with Colt McCoy and then backing up Alex Smith, who will most assuredly be under center for us the following season). Drew Lock doesn’t blow my skirt up either, but Kyler Murray does and for $16 million or so spread out over four years, he would be an intriguing talent to add to the team. I would see Kyler Murray as a good pick for the Redskins for a variety of factors beyond just being a cheap young talent. His athleticism would almost certainly come in handy when we are playing our 21st and 22nd offensive line combinations. Since we don’t care about quarterbacks being able to see over the offensive line, his size can be sold as an advantage because the defensive linemen and linebackers won’t be able to see him either. He has an MLB-coveted rocket arm, and he always seems to be playing under control. If the Redskins sent him out at any point this season, we would all hold our breath in anticipation of something great about to happen (I think this is true, though I am mostly comparing that to the opposite kind of feeling that we would have if and when Drew Lock trotted out onto the field). There are plenty of ways for the Redskins to handle their salary cap hell this season and next that allow them to compete on the field with a talented quarterback. These are my top five today, though they could change as we move forward.
Looks Like Someone Has a Sixpack of the Mondays
A Tuesday Sixpack dedicated to quarterback options!