- As fans of a team that hasn’t always been...relevant...in December and January, the months of March and April are big for us. And I don’t mean Trey Adams big...I’m talking “wish you were smaller” big. The Redskins have money to spend, holes to fill, and a new front office regime making the decisions. By the time we get to the 16th, we will have more clarity on who is and is not available for the Redskins to pursue (sounds like Hunter Henry will be on the unavailable list which sucks), and that will then dictate decisions in the draft. Typically, it’s the NFL Draft where most of the CIA-level tactics take place, but I can honestly say I don’t know what to believe at this point on just about anything. In the past, we had Bruce Allen to try and interpret...which was the least-fun home game since drunken lawn darts. He was generally lying, which didn’t help him when he was trying to use lies to help the Redskins fool other teams. The new regime, led by Riverboat Ron Rivera, is already off to the races in terms of saying things that could be true. We are finally back to a football-themed version of the time-honored classic Sesame Street challenge, “Which of these things is doing its own thing?” Let’s start at the quarterback spot.
- I have been fielding texts from folks who are unhappy that the Redskins may be messing with the psyche of their young quarterback, Dwayne Haskins Jr. I get it, this has been a Redskins staple under Dan Snyder: invest heavily in youth and subvert their development by signing high-priced replacements or engaging in a behind-the-scenes, “anonymously” sourced rumormill. Specifically, there is reporting that the Redskins are considering drafting Tua Tagavailoa to compete with Dwayne Haskins. Let me go on record at the outset as being insanely FOR this kind of report. Let’s talk about why.
- First, I believe that if the Redskins are creating a smokescreen here, in an effort to pump up the value of our number two overall draft slot, my gut tells me that Dwayne Haskins has been brought in on it. I do NOT believe Ron Rivera would actively work to undermine a talented and physical quarterback that could dictate how his initial Redskins years go. If the goal is to convince the Miami Dolphins and/or the Detroit Lions (among others) that the Redskins are potentially serious about drafting the Alabama signal-caller, this is part of how you do it. A new coach and new front office regime wanting to bring in their own new quarterback is extremely believable. That is all we need it to be if this is a ruse. In fact, if and when we hear any kind of grumbling from Haskins, I would argue that the fix is officially in and the second year Ohio State player is playing his part to perfection. (I think Haskins is smart enough to say absolutely nothing at all if this story was real.) The bigger question goes to whether or not you would actually trade the rights to Chase Young away (Kevin and T, this week I am officially on the record as being okay with trading out of #2 overall and gathering picks).
- On the other hand, if Ron Rivera is actually NOT sold on Dwayne Haskins being the “guy” here in Washington, I will cast my lot with Ron. I think the RivEra will be a good era for Redskins fans, and his opinion matters from day one. Like we said about the recent cuts made, Riverboat’s job is not to take the apples he inherited and make applesauce. He gets to plant his own trees. Decisiveness out of the gate is the key here. I have no idea how Ron feels exactly about Haskins, which is exactly as it should be heading into free agency and the draft. I know that there was a LOT of accolades being thrown at Washington for landing Haskins, with at least a quasi-general consensus being that Haskins had a pretty solid pro-ready aspect to his game. Players liked what they saw out of him, and as a fan, I saw nothing that made me think he was doomed to fail in the pros. The bottom line is that you don’t hire a guy like Rivera, hand over the entire operation of the franchise to him, and then tell him he must work with a second-year quarterback he isn’t sold on. The flip side to this argument is that a man like Rivera likely doesn’t take this job if he doesn’t have at least some excitement to work with Haskins, a player the team just invested a first round pick in less than a year prior...after all, Rivera could have taken other gigs.
- Ultimately, I would place the likelihood of the Redskins drafting Tua lower than the odds of Kevin and Tim letting it slide tomorrow night on the matter of me flipping after both flipping and flopping already on the trade-down topic. Here’s what I like about all of this though: all along I have wanted this to be the Tua draft slot. It sets up the Redskins best to have options on draft day. The previous regime wasn’t one that excelled even when there were no options. Let’s see how Rivera and the new front office do when they can choose their own adventure. Tua’s injury—along with Alabama finally not winning a national title—hurt our chances to achieve this. As great as Chase Young is, teams don’t act as irrationally for pass rushers as they do for quarterbacks. If a team is willing to act irrationally, I am happy to facilitate that for them. Should a team come calling for that #2 spot, I am willing to bet that they are serious enough to offer a pretty compelling package.
- Especially as the prospects of a Trent Williams return begin to shrink, I find myself of the mind to add additional first and second round picks (via trading out of #2) to plug more holes with young talent. We now hear that Trent never engaged in any contractual discussions with the Skins—even in concept. The idea that he could be traded is slightly more real today than it was before, even if it is the last thing I want. Put simply, the Redskins are better with Trent Williams, but if that ain’t gonna happen, the commitment to rebuilding this team has to strengthen. It has to be a little more all-encompassing than it would if you had one of the best left tackles in the game on the field. The risk of trading out of the #2 slot is pretty significant and not easily dismissed. It isn’t even just missing out on Chase Young. You still have to get those other picks right. I get it, but...the idea that the Redskins could possibly turn Chase Young into a starting offensive lineman, a starting defensive back and a starting tight end (if Miami trades up for instance) has me leaning that way. Anyone who tells you that the Redskins HAVE to do one or the other is not being honest enough. It isn’t a no-brainer situation. Yes, Chase Young is one of the more sure-things we have seen at the top of the draft, but it is also true that the Redskins could be better off over the next four seasons by adding more talent around some of the young talent they already have. One thing I know for sure, I like the idea of trusting the new crew to make this decision a lot more than the old crew. The old crew would have drafted Chase Young to sell the jerseys that Chase Young is going to sell. In other words, they would have based their decision on the wrong thing(s). The new crew will bring Chase Young to town if they feel like it gives us the best chance to win now and in the future. I can live with that. In the meantime, let the misinformation campaign continue. (One thing that seems pretty real to me: we’re gonna be paying yet another former Carolina Panthers cornerback top-of-the-market money.)
Free agency and the draft are approaching...which means you can only believe about 5% of what you hear (as opposed to the normal 6%).