If we discount the notion that Alex Smith could be healthy enough to play in 2020, then the Redskins have only one quarterback under contract — second-year signal caller, Dwayne Haskins Jr.
That’s clearly not acceptable. The Redskins need a guy in the quarterback room with Haskins, and maybe two.
While it may be a good idea to use a mid-to-late round draft pick or UDFA to reinforce the position, Ron Rivera’s early comments strongly indicate that the Redskins intend to sign a veteran free agent to back up Haskins or challenge him for the starting job in 2020. In my heart, I don’t think Ron Rivera wants to start his tenure in DC with a true camp competition between Dwayne and somebody else, but he might. It seems more likely that the new head coach wants to insure that Haskins, currently staring at a dearth of competition, feels motivated to work hard this off-season to keep the job that appears to be his regardless (irregardless, even).
I’ve decided to approach this article from the standpoint that the Redskins want a veteran quarterback, and that guy needs to exist in a very narrow spot on the QB continuum.
Firstly, he doesn’t have to be a great mentor-type. Dwayne has Alex Smith for the 2020 season no matter what, and Alex has a reputation for being great at helping younger guys develop.
Secondly, the guy has to be able to play — well enough so that, during camp, Dwayne feels pushed to keep his job, and well enough that, if Dwayne twists an ankle during a game, the other guy can win off the bench or as a spot-starter.
Thirdly, the guy has to be motivated enough to think that, if he just does well enough, he can win the job, but realistic enough to accept his role as backup in the very likely event that he doesn’t manage to take the job away from Haskins.
Fourthly, I want a guy who can match Haskins style of play, so that the Redskins don’t have to change the offense just because the backup comes on the field.
Lastly, I want a guy who won’t break the bank in salary cap. That means finding a guy who would be happy to play for Ron Rivera in Washington DC, with motivation, but not unrealistic expectations.
A recent NFL Trade Rumors article lists 32 veteran quarterbacks that are currently on track to be free agents in March. Not all 32 will make it to free agency. Some, like Dak Prescott will most likely be re-signed by the team they are currently playing for. Others, like Josh McCown, may retire (though he has indicated that he doesn’t want to call it quits right now, for McCown it would be the second time, if it happened). Even among those who end up available in the market, some won’t be suitable. Colt McCoy strikes me as a guy that the Redskins front office won’t be pursuing, and Tom Brady, if he doesn’t return to the Patriots, is the furthest thing in the world from a fit for the Redskins’ needs.
I’m honestly not overly worried about the guy’s age. If he’s older, I don’t mind, because I’m just looking for a short-term situation while Dwane Haskins cements himself as the unquestioned starter, and if he’s young I don’t mind because it would offer the opportunity for long-term stability, and — if the guy is good enough — a chance to pick up a draft pick later via trade or comp pick.
Click here to read: An early look at the top 100 veteran free agents of 2020
Click here for more Redskins 2020 Free Agency coverage and profiles
After some consideration, I decided to focus this article on the following players:
- Case Keenum
- Drew Stanton
- A.J. McCarron
- Mike Glennon
- Nate Sudfeld
- Kyle Allen
Plus, I want to look at one BONUS prospect — the current starting quarterback of the XFL’s DC Defenders — Cardale Jones.
Free agency begins in earnest on 16 March when teams can begin to negotiate with players’ agents, and players can sign new contracts from 4pm on 18 March.
NFL teams can approach XFL players following the league’s championship game, played on 26 April, just before the draft.
Case Keenum, Redskins
Initially, I thought the most sensible option for the Redskins would be to bring Keenum back, but the further we’ve gotten away from the 2019 season, the more I’ve cooled on the idea. Keenum was only here for a year, after all. As a true journeyman quarterback, he’s used to moving to try to find the best situation. With a new coaching staff, Keenum gets no bonus points for knowing the offense.
Case Keenum had an up and down season in 2019. He looked capable in the opening week or two, but, whether due to injury or other factors, his play quickly fell off, and he ended the season badly.
Had it not been for that 2019 experience, I would have thought Case Keenum would’ve been close to the model of the guy I’d be looking for. As things stand now, however, Keenum probably should pack his bags for the next stop on his NFL journey.
Drew Stanton, Browns
Stanton’s career passer rating of 66.3 doesn’t compare to Keenum’s 85.3, and that’s reflected in Keenum’s journey through the NFL as a marginal starter while Stanton has been a career backup, but Stanton is not talentless and, after playing behind Josh Rosen and Kyler Murray, certainly understands the role of NFL backup and has the ability to play significant snaps in an NFL game and win.
In 2017, the last season in which he saw the field, Stanton appeared in 5 games, attempting at least 30 passes in all but one of them. Those 5 games resulted in 3 wins and 2 losses.
In the ‘16 season, Stanton also appeared in five games, but in much more limited roles, throwing only 48 passes all season. Still, the Cardinals were 4-1 in those games, meaning that Stanton has the most important quality of a backup — he can appear in a game and the team can still win. The Cardinals are 7-3 in the last ten games in which Stanton took snaps.
I don’t think Drew Stanton has passed the point where he believes he can win a starting job. He earned $3.1m per year to hold a clipboard for Rosen and Murray in 2018-19, and he’d likely be no more expensive as a clipboard holder for Haskins.
AJ McCarron, Texans
McCarron’s career got off to a good start as Andy Dalton’s backup in Cincinnati. McCarron played in seven games, completing 66.4% of his passes with a 6:2 TD:INT ratio and a 97.1 passer rating.
Since then, he has thrown just 54 passes in seven games across four seasons playing behind Dalton, Derek Carr and Deshaun Watson.
If McCarron is the same guy who played significant snaps in 4 games in 2015 while seeing the team win 2 and lose 2 of those games, he might see DC as the opportunity to advance his career. After all, there probably aren’t many starting quarterbacks in the NFL in a more precarious position than Dwayne Haskins, who is unproven and facing just his second season in the NFL having to show a new coaching staff that he’s the right guy. At least Mitch Trubisky and Jared Goff are working with coaching staffs that have something invested in them, and Cam Newton has an impressive record of success to point to.
McCarron got $3m to stand on the sidelines and watch Watson play last season; I suspect he’d welcome the chance to get the same money to take a shot at unseating Haskins in camp.
Mike Glennon, Raiders
Outside of Case Keenum, Glennon may have the best resume of the players discussed in this article. With 29 NFL appearances, 801 attempts, a 60.9% completion rate and 36:20 TD:INT ratio, Glennon’s career passer rating is 84.3 and it has only dipped below 83 once in his six-year career.
Glennon’s career, unfortunately, has gone backwards. As a rookie in 2013, he led a bad Tampa Bay team to 4 wins and 9 losses in his 13 starts. The coaches tried to play him again in 2014, but with just one win in six games, the Mike Glennon experiment officially ended in early November that season. He has been a back up ever since.
Read this 2013 college scouting report from National Football Post and see if it reminds you of any other quarteback prospect you’ve read about recently.
NC State QB Mike Glennon is your typical tall, strong-armed pocket passer who has some limitations because of his lacking foot quickness and athleticism. There is no doubt he can make all the throws from a solid base. However, his ball placement really struggles when he gets lazy with his footwork and throws flat-footed.
Glennon’s stock is badly damaged at this point in his career, but he may possibly be a better players than most people give him credit for. He would likely sign for around $1m per year.
Nate Sudfeld, Eagles
Sudfeld has only attempted 25 regular season passes, but he was originally drafted by the Redskins, and, after three seasons buried at the #3 spot on the Eagles depth chart, might welcome an invitation to return to DC. Sudfeld is a big, young, strong-armed quarterback who has spent four years learning about NFL offenses.
He could prove to be the ideal guy to bring to camp alongside Dwayne Haskins.
Kyle Allen, Panthers
Kyle Allen came out of nowhere to take over the Carolina offense when Cam Newton proved to be too injured to play in 2019. When Carolina won 5 of Allen’s first 6 starts, he set the NFL world abuzz.
The buzz cooled almost as quickly when Allen failed to lead the team to a win after the first week of November. “Good” Kyle Allen threw 7 TDs and no interceptions in his first four starts before suffering a 0 TD, 3 INT day against a stifling 49er defense. In his 5 wins, he had a 9:1 TD:INT ratio.
“Bad” Kyle Allen quarterbacked the team to seven straight losses — a stretch in which his head coach got fired. In that stretch, he had an 8:12 TD:INT ratio, which slips to 8:15 if you include the earlier loss to San Fran.
No one should know Kyle Allen, what he’s capable of, and where his head is at better than his former head coach, Ron Rivera. If Riverboat Ron thinks that Allen can come to DC with the skill and confidence to do the job, then it might be worthwhile trying to sign him.
Allen is not an unrestricted free agent. As a player with less than three full accrued seasons, he is an Exclusive Rights Free Agent, which means that the Panthers can hold onto him pretty cheaply if they want to. But do they?
The Panthers carried three quarterbacks into the ‘19 season because Newton’s health was in question and the other guy was rookie Will Grier, drafted in the 3rd round.
I guess the Panthers could approach the 2020 season with the same philosophy, but I’ve got the feeling that new head coach Matt Rhule may want to put his own stamp on the organization and the offense.
The Panthers hold the #7 pick in the draft. They could probably get a quarterback there, or they might try to jump up the order to find a replacement for the suddenly aging and battle-scarred Newton.
In the end, the Panthers might decide not to tender a contract to Allen, freeing him up to re-join Rivera and Scott Turner in Washington. It’s no certain thing, but it’s a possibility worth being aware of.
Cardale Jones, DC Defenders/Bills
Dwayne Haskins played quarterback at Ohio State; so did Cardale Jones. What could be better than a DC redemption story for this former Buffalo Bills 4th round pick?
Having been drafted by the Bills in 2016, CJ only got to throw 11 passes in the NFL regular season. He was cut by the Bills after his rookie year, and then spent time on the practice squads of the Chargers and the Seahawks in ‘17, ‘18 and ‘19.
In the first two weeks of the new XFL, Jones looked like the only high-quality quarterback in the league. Through two weeks, Jones had thrown for 511 yards, completing 63% of his passes for 4 TDs, 1 INT, and sported a passer rating of 102.0.
The question, of course, is whether the best starting QB in the XFL is good enough to be a backup in the NFL. As a Big 10 quarterback, Jones completed 62% of his passes for over 2,000 yards and a 15:7 TD:INT ratio. His performance at both college and XFL — each a step below the NFL — is solid and consistent. He is currently playing in DC and winning. If CJ can carry the Defenders to the XFL championship, it might be a great jumping off point for him to join his fellow Buckeye, Dwayne Haskins in Redskins camp this summer.
What should the Redskins do at this position this off-season?
This poll is closed
Plan on a camp competition between Haskins and Alex Smith
Draft a quarterback #2 overall and hold a camp competition. Loser gets traded.
Sign a veteran free agent and go into the season with Haskins, the FA and Alex Smith
Sign a veteran free agent and draft a mid-round quarterback. Forget about Alex Smith — the QB depth chart will be Haskins, FA, rookie.
I have a copletely different plan.
Of the players highlighted in this article, when you take into consideration history, talent, age, likely contract, and so on, which one would you most want the Redskins front office to prioritize if they signed a veteran free agent QB this off season?
This poll is closed
Kyle Allen (if not retained by Carolina)