With the apparent commitment to the status quo on the defensive side of the ball, there is no more important set of decisions to be made this offseason than the future of the quarterback position for the next few years. This piece will explore several of the most likely scenarios on that front, and try to anticipate the most important ripple effects that will roll forth from each one.
Ron Rivera enters the 2022 offseason coming off his 4th straight losing season and with an increasingly desperate need to show that he can field a winner - or at least show that he’s on a plausible path to fielding one in 2023. There are no guaranteed paths to near term success, but the surest fire bet almost certainly involves acquiring a top performing vet.
Problem is, rookie QBs don’t regularly make the playoffs - before Mac Jones this year, the last time a rookie QB had made the playoffs was 2018 (Lamar Jackson). Two years earlier, Dak Prescott made an appearance. Before that, you have to go back to 2012, when RG3, Andrew Luck, and Russell Wilson all punched their teams’ tickets. That was also the last time a rookie (Wilson), won a playoff game. So, it can happen.....if you draft a Hall of Fame caliber QB and drop him into a team with dominant personnel around him, but it’s not something I’d bank on.
Scenario 1: Trade for Russell Wilson
This is both the most probably impactful and the least probable of the scenarios this offseason. Wilson is signed to the Seahawks through 2023 on a contract that averages around $38M per year over the next couple of years. He also has a no-trade clause in his contract and has apparently said the only teams he would waive it for are the Giants, Saints, and Broncos.
Wilson struggled in 2021, missing several games due to a finger injury, as the Seahawks had their first losing season since 2011 (Wilson was drafted in 2012), but many believe that the 33-year old still has several Pro Bowl-caliber seasons still left in the tank.
Is this the end of the Seahawks? I wrote about what happened in a disappointing 2021 season -- including yet another failure to provide solid pass protection for Russell Wilson -- and what might happen nexthttps://t.co/gXgQFTL9uw— Computer Cowboy (@benbbaldwin) January 14, 2022
If Wilson were to make himself available, with the blessing of the Seahawks, he would not come cheaply, however. His starting price would surely be at least two first round picks and additional draft capital, all of which would be welcome by the Seahawks, who are without a first round pick in this year’s draft.
To top it all off, the Seahawks could have to eat $26M in cap space if he’s traded this offseason. So something would surely need to be done to defray that impact as well (Wilson’s full cap hit is $37M next year, estimated to be about 17% of the cap).
Trading for Wilson would essentially remove any chance that Washington would take a rookie QB this year, and would consume most of its available cap space in 2022, unless his deal was re-structured.
Scenario 2: Trade for Jimmy Garoppolo
A couple of weeks ago, this seemed like a plausibly painless scenario to pick up a veteran option who might be a bridge QB for a freshly drafted rookie. As of now, it feels like a more expensive Alex Smith 2.0 deal.
Having made it at least to the Conference Championship, Garoppolo’s price continues to climb, from a Day 2 pick, most likely, to a first rounder.
For all Jimmy G’s doubters, and they are legion, I imagine his price would be the #11 overall pick from Washington, buttressed on the back-end with an immediate 2 to 3 year extension. Garoppolo’s current contract only pays him $27M in 2022.
Having nabbed Trent Williams from Washington at a bargain basement price a couple of years ago, is Kyle Shanahan ready to do the Andy Reid double-dip in 2022? Re-couping value on Garoppolo now, after having traded away their 2022 first rounder for Trey Lance last year, could be a coup for Shanahan, Lynch, and the SF front office, which looks potentially to be on the verge of a minor dynasty, if Lance can do what Shanny needs him to. I’m told Martin Mayhew has connections.
Scenario 3: Free agent and rookie
The top 3 free agent quarterbacks this offseason are probably Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, and Mitch Trubisky. Each one comes with baggage of his own, but the good news is, none of them would require draft capital to acquire, opening the door to draft a rookie at #11. I’ll discuss each briefly in turn.
A week ago, I thought Winston’s return to New Orleans was pretty close to a sure thing, given how poorly the band of misfit toys Sean Payton rolled through in his absence performed this year after Jameis went down. More recently, there have been rumors that perhaps Payton will take some time off from the NFL, potentially for a media job. If Payton leaves, Winston would probably be available. If not, I suspect Payton keeps him around at least a little longer.
Mariota spent most of his career in Tennessee, where he posted a 29-32 record, and never played a full 16-game season. He’s completed 18 passes as a back up for the Raiders over the past 2 years and seems to have induced amnesia among fans league wide. He’s flashed at times, but he has been pretty injury prone over his career, even going on IR this season with a quad injury after single play in the Raiders’ game against the Ravens.
Mitch Trubisky will probably always be best known for being drafted before Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, but he went 29-21 with the Bears before they decided against picking up his 5th year option. This year, he sat behind Josh Allen and saw very little action, though he did throw an interception. For those who chalk his offensive woes up to Matt Nagy’s terrible coaching, there’s some hope for redemption. Whether that’s just a mirage or not, we’ll probably find out when someone gambles on him in 2022.
Scenario 4: Rookie and Taylor Heinicke
We’ll call this scenario the “Baptism by Fire.” It consists of drafting a QB at #11, or perhaps trading up a bit, and rolling with him from day 1, with Taylor Heinicke available in relief if things go sideways. But, fundamentally, it’s a commitment to stick with the rookie through thick and thin regardless of how he plays, assuming he stays healthy.
Such a strategy basically writes 2022 off as a “learning year,” which most fans would probably accept if there was a clear growth trajectory for the young QB. If however, the rookie appears to wash out, the best case scenario is that we find ourselves doing this exercise again in 2023 (instead of 2024), with the clock rapidly ticking down on the Riv-Era.
Would that rookie be Howell, Corral, Strong, Willis, Pickett, or someone else? It’s still too early to say, but if the team selects a rookie QB this year, it has to be someone that Scott Turner is comfortable with, and, ideally, someone who can take advantage of the strengths of the receiving options already on the team.
I’ve tried to lay out what I believe to be the most realistic quarterback options on the table for Washington this offseason, although they all involve substantial risk. Which would you most like to see the team pursue? Tell me in the comments.
Which QB scenario do you most prefer?
This poll is closed
Scenario 1: Russell Wilson
Scenario 2: Jimmy G.
Scenario 3: Vet free agent and a rookie
Scenario 4: Roll with the rookie
A different option (provide in the comments)