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Washington QB Search: Alex Smith wants to play somewhere next season; Two Raiders QBs are drawing interest

The QB search continues

Indianapolis Colts v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Another week has passed, and Washington has secured one QB for the 2021 season. Taylor Heinicke was re-signed to a 2 year deal worth up to $8.75 million with a heavy amount of playing time incentives. This signing means 3 of the 4 QBs that were on the roster at the end of the season are under contract for next season. Kyle Allen is an Exclusive Rights Free Agent(ERFA) and will likely be tendered on a cheap 1-year deal. UDFA rookie Steven Montez and is signed for the 2021 season.

That leaves Alex Smith and the big question about what the team will do with him after he was the Comeback Player of the Year, and helped lead the Washington Football Team to their first division title in 5 years. Smith is under contract for the next two seasons, but doesn’t have any guaranteed money left on his deal. The team has been rumored to be involved in multiple veteran QB trades since the season ends, and are looking for an upgrade at the position. If they move on from Smith this year they will save $14.7 million against the cap.

Alex Smith was undecided about his future after the season, he had dealt with an injury the team called a calf strain, but was later identified as a bone bruise. That injury caused him to miss 3 12 games at the end of the season, including the team’s home playoff loss to the Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He did an interview with 60 minutes that made it sound like he was definitely going to try to play again in 2021.

Jeremy Fowler said that Alex Smith does plan on playing this year, but acknowledged the reality that that might not happen in Washington:

“I’m told that Alex Smith after a great comeback year, going 5-2 down the stretch, he does want to continue playing football,” ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler said on SportsCenter. “He’s leaning that way, but he’s got a large cap hit. Washington could save $13.6 million if they did move on. And many people around the league believe their answer at quarterback is not in the building. So maybe they could work something out with Smith, but he does want to play somewhere.”

Washington is definitely looking to upgrade at QB, but that hasn’t happened yet, and they hold the 19th pick in this year’s draft. Unless they plan on trading up, the draft isn’t going to get their Week 1 starter unless their luck has significantly improved. There are also a few free agent QBs this year who could hold the spot while the search continues. Washington is still looking at the veteran QB trade market, and there have been a few reports this week about QBs they’re interested in.

Albert Breer was asked about Washington’s options after missing out on the Matthew Stafford trade, and he brought up another QB they called about.

From JV (@jessvegs): With Stafford out of the equation, what does Washington do at QB now? Carr? Trade up for Fields? Darnold?

JV, since you asked the question, Washington did re-sign Taylor Heinicke, but I think the Football Team will still continue aggressively looking at just about everything. They offered a first-rounder and third-rounder for Stafford, a haul close to what Carolina was willing to give up for him. And they’ve inquired on Carr—who, to this point, has not been made available by the Raiders. I’m also relatively certain that, picking 19th, Washington won’t get Zach Wilson, Justin Fields or Trey Lance without trading up.

But if you add all those things up, the desire to go get a quarterback added to the way the winds are blowing on the draft class, it’s pretty easy to see where Washington would be a trade-up candidate here. Especially when you consider that the 2022 draft class, as of right now, doesn’t have even one slam-dunk first-round quarterback. In that way, this year is like 2018, and we saw three trades up within or into the top 10 to get QB that year.

Derek Carr has been a name linked to Washington for the last few weeks, despite the fact that the Las Vegas Raiders aren’t actively shopping him. It was reported that they might be open to listening to offers, but that’s as far as this little fantasy trade has gone. Washington might be interested, but unless they’re willing to offer a significant trade package, it’s not going to happen.

That brings us to a QB that should be available, and won’t coast anything near what Carr and Stafford would. Marcus Mariota was a first round pick(2nd overall) by the Tennessee Titans in 2015. He started until 2019 when he was replaced by Ryan Tannehill who revived his career with the Titans. Mariota signed a 2 year deal with the Raiders, but was placed on injured reserve at the start of the season.

The Raiders are currently ~$18.8 million over the cap, and Mariota his the 6th highest cap hit on the team. Nathan Peterman was just re-signed to a cheap deal, and it seems like Mariota will be a cap casualty. He carries a contract worth around $11 million which is easily covered by the cap savings from Alex Smith’s release. The contract is also loaded with incentives that could double the value if Mariota starts the entire season. Any trade for Mariota would have to involve a new deal.

Michael Lombardi said the Washington Football Team is very interested acquiring Marcus Mariota, but points out the need for a new deal. He also brings up the questions that have surrounded Mariota and his consistency throughout his career. How much draft capital should any team be willing to give up for him, and how much is he worth on a multi-year deal?