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The Importance of Acquiring a Franchise Quarterback for Washington Has Never Been Higher

NCAA Football: Duke’s Mayo Bowl-South Carolina at North Carolina Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

If watching the first round of the 2021 NFL playoffs was not enough, the importance of finding a franchise quarterback for Washington has never been higher than it is heading into the 2022 offseason.

The last time the Washington franchise had sustained success at the quarterback position was when Mark Rypien was under center from 1988-1993, where he went 45-27, was selected to two Pro Bowls, and won a Super Bowl.

Some may bring up Robert Griffin III (2012-2014), and Kirk Cousins (2015-2017), as each went to a playoff game and made a Pro Bowl - but to me the word SUSTAINED does not stand out with either of these players.

With a new name, brand and fresh start on the horizon, it is more important than ever for Ron Rivera, Martin Mayhew and Tanya Snyder to get this one right!


The Ryan Fitzpatrick Signing

Hindsight is 20:20, so anyone saying they could predict the freak injury that happened to Fitz during the first quarter of Washington’s first game would be lying. However, it is 100 percent fair to question the decision to let 2021 ride on the arm of the 39 year old gun-slinger. Irresponsible is the word I like to use.

Now, maybe if Fitzpatrick was signed as a bridge to mentor a drafted rookie, fans would have been able to at least stomach the move, but after going all-in, and missing out, on Matt Stafford, this looked like a complete desperation move by Ron and his minions.

However, I wish FitzMagic nothing but the best in his future, as by all accounts, he’s a great guy who teammates love and respect. And, it does look like he’s having some fun with that amazing Dad-Bod of his...


The Taylor Heinicke Experiment

Taylor Heinicke was a great story, and one fans couldn’t help root for. A guy who had one foot out of the NFL, only to be called back as an emergency COVID quarterback and “almost” beat Tom Brady in a home playoff game.

I can’t fault our starved fan-base for wanting to see more...

Well, see more we did - and it was NOT pretty! Heinicke started 15 games during the 2021 season, winning seven of them. He completed 65% of his passes for 3419 yards with 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.

On the surface, these numbers don’t look terrible for a guy in his first season as a starter, but when you begin to peel back the onion, you get a completely different story.

Advanced stats (and I know some of you are not fans of advanced stats), show he had the second most turnover worthy plays in the NFL (behind only Ben Roethlisberger), and when looking at Independent Quarterback Rating, a proprietary quarterback metric that builds on the traditional Passer Rating formula by considering the value of a quarterback independent of results outside of his control such as dropped passes, dropped interceptions, throwaways, etc., Taylor had the third lowest in the NFL among those who attempted at least 350 passes (ahead of just Zach Wilson and Trevor Lawrence).

His mechanics are horrible, constantly throwing off his back foot. His arm is the worst in the NFL among 2021 starters. His field-vision was severely blurred. His accuracy is shaky at best, and his unwillingness to step up in the pocket and drive the ball into tight windows was non-existent.

So, for as cool as his story was, he’s VERY CLEARLY not the answer moving forward for this franchise as a starting quarterback option - even as a bridge.


Forging a new path forward

So, where will Ron Rivera look now?

It’s VERY clear that we do not have the future on this current roster. It’s also evident that coach Rivera will explore every option this offseason, including trades, free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft, to find a franchise quarterback.

Trade Targets:

- Deshaun Watson: For as talented as Watson is (top 5 quarterback in the league), he just brings too much baggage. Unless and until he’s legally cleared, it would behoove the team to stay clear.

- Aaron Rodgers: The chances of Rodgers leaving Green Bay remain slim. The chances of him coming here via a mega-trade remain even slimmer. Besides, for a team searching for a franchise signal caller, a 38 year old quarterback may not be the smartest option.

- Russell Wilson: Although the likelihood of Wilson being traded this offseason is much greater that that of Aaron Rodgers, he has a no-trade clause in his current contract, and has stated two desired locations - New York and New Orleans. Can things change...sure, but I would not bet on that happening.

- Derek Carr: This one is interesting. A new coach will be hired, and it’s likely a new front office might be in the cards as well. Carr will be heading into the last year on his current deal in 2022, and the new staff may want “their guy”. Also, it’s never good heading into a season with a lame-duck quarterback under center. He won’t come cheap, but the soon-to-be 31 year old would be the best thing to hit D.C. since...well, he’d be the best thing in a WHILE!

- Jared Goff: Goff was part of the trade that sent Matt Stafford to the Rams last offseason. Many assumed the Lions did the Rams a favor by taking Goff, and his contract, off of their hands, but facts are, Goff is just 27, has a good arm, made two Pro Bowls in his young career (2017 and 2018), and would be a significant upgrade to anything we have here. If the Lions brass sees their future in a 2022 rookie passer, Goff may be had for the right package.

- Jimmy Garoppolo: Garoppolo’s 49ers just knocked off the Cowboys in the first round of the playoff, so he’s already endeared himself to Washington fans, but his injury history and inconsistent play would raise many eyebrows. I do, however, expect him to be available this offseason, and I assume The Commanders will sniff around.

- Baker Mayfield: This one is a little more involved. When healthy and given weapons, Mayfield is a solid starter with huge upside. In 2020, he started all 16 games, leading his team to an 11-5 record, while throwing 3563 yards and 26 touchdowns vs. just eight interceptions. His 2021 was a different story. He played through a fractured left shoulder and completely torn labrum. That left shoulder popped out on at least three separate occasions. Baker is playing on his fifth-year option, and if Cleveland doesn’t want to commit to him long-term, they could explore trade options.

- Matt Ryan: Personally, I’d want no part of Matt Ryan and his contract, but I could see Ron Rivera, whose teams played against him for years, falling for the Falcons signal caller.

Free Agency:

The free agent options are probably not long-term guys, but there are three who would be worth taking a flier on - even if it’s a one-year, prove-it deal to be a bridge to a drafted rookie.

- Jameis Winston: Winston looked good early in New Orleans, throwing 14 touchdowns vs. just three interceptions in seven games before getting injured. The Saints were 5-2. There is a very good chance New Orleans will try and re-sign him to a longer-term deal if they have the cap space and he’s healthy.

- Mitch Trubisky: Spending a year in Buffalo under Brian Daboll, who is all but assured a head coaching gig this year, had to have done Mitch some good. Hell, it was certainly an upgrade to the time he spent with Matt Nagy in Chicago.

- Marcus Mariota: Mariota was a hot name last offseason, as many suggested we acquire him via a trade with the Raiders. He’s a soft-spoken guy, but has a good arm, and the athleticism to make plays when things around him break down.

2022 NFL Draft:

For most teams, the draft is where it all happens. Quality signal callers rarely make it to the open market, so teams who need a franchise signal caller will often want to take advantage of first round quarterbacks because they get five years of cheap control over said player. Not only does it give that staff the ability to develop the quarterback in THEIR scheme, but the smaller cap hit allows them to build other areas of the squad around that player.

Here are some of the top quarterbacks who will be available in this year’s draft (reminder - Washington picks 11th):

- Matt Corral (6’1” 205): Big arm, accurate passer with deceptive athleticism and unmatched toughness. A true leader in the locker room and on the field; guys just feed off him.

- Kenny Pickett (6’3” 220): Prototypical NFL size with above average arm, good accuracy and NFL smarts.

- Sam Howell (6’1” 220): Thickly built athlete with powerful lower half and a cannon for an arm. Poor supporting cast in 2021 hurt his draft stock a bit; but don’t let that fool you - he’s got talent.

- Malik Willis (6’1” 215): Accuracy issues pop up on film, but his arm and athleticism have coaches drooling.

- Carson Strong (6’4” 220): His arm will wow scouts, but chronic knee issues could scare some teams away. Not a complete statue, but mobility is not his strength.

- Desmond Ridder (6’4” 215): Arm and accuracy are just ok, but he can make up for some of that with his great athleticism. He was, however, exposed greatly against Alabama in the playoffs.


Knowing the future of this team at quarterback is not on the current roster, which way would you go to acquire our next signal caller?

Poll

How should Washington address the QB position this offseason?

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    Trade for a veteran
    (270 votes)
  • 4%
    Sign a free agent
    (104 votes)
  • 42%
    Draft a rookie - hand him the keys
    (1018 votes)
  • 41%
    Sign a veteran bridge, and draft a rookie to sit and learn
    (983 votes)
2375 votes total Vote Now