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Ranking ten viable veteran QB options for Washington

Garoppolo, Wilson, Rodgers, Watson, and more. Ranking each veteran quarterback option that Washington will have to consider over the next few weeks.

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NFL: Washington Football Team at Buffalo Bills Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

If you have not heard yet, Washington needs a quarterback. Rivera is ready to do what it takes, or so it seems, to ensure that there’s stability at the position for 2022 and beyond.

Rivera’s made his pitch multiple times since the season has concluded. “We’d like to believe we would be a viable option for a lot of (quarterbacks),” Rivera told Ben Standig of The Athletic on Tuesday. “We understand what the capital will take to bring a type (of) player like that here. We believe we have a lot to offer.”

Rivera’s also compared Washington’s situation to Tampa Bay’s before Tom Brady and Los Angeles’s before Matthew Stafford. “For the most part, (the Bucs and Rams) were in place and went and got their quarterback,” Rivera said. “I believe we have the makings of a good football team. We have to be able to have the pieces in place to say that, and I believe we do.”

You can read Standig’s article from the Athletic in full here.

Washington’s off-season will contain a ton of rumors, some legitimate, and some fluff. However, if you had to objectively look at each name that’s been floated around in connection to Washington and ask yourself, “what are the odds that this happens?” how would you rank each quarterback that may be available in the off-season?

In this article specifically, we’ll take a brief look at each of the quarterbacks’ situations; where they stand with their current team, how Washington stacks up with other teams who will be interested, and then rank the quarterbacks by percent chance of them becoming a Commander in 2022.

Trade Options

Jimmy Garoppolo - Garoppolo himself expects to be traded this off-season and wants to go to a winning situation. With a 33-14 career record as a starting quarterback, wanting to go to a winning situation makes sense for Garoppolo, and I am sure the 49ers will honor that request when fielding offers. We know that Garoppolo is not a superstar talent and has flaws in his game. But let’s reanalyze what Rivera has said multiple times this off-season; he believes that Washington has the pieces in place to win now, and he’s willing to pay. Though I think the 49ers will ultimately choose an AFC team to deal with, Washington will be in the mix.

Deshaun Watson - Both Watson and Houston want nothing to do with each other, so its safe to assume Watson will be traded at some point this off-season. Further, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported yesterday that multiple teams would be willing to trade for Watson without settling his civil cases. So April 1st, the day Harris County’s District Attorney will decide to charge Watson or not criminally, does not matter to some teams.

Watson, like Wilson, has a no-trade clause in his contract, too. However, it can come down to the early bird getting the worm. The Carolina Panthers have been one of the louder teams that have expressed interest in Watson, and the Miami Dolphins had already worked a deal with Houston mid-season before it fell through. So where does Washington fit in, knowing that they can’t afford to miss on a quarterback this off-season? Is Washington willing to join the pre-April 1st sweepstakes and assume the risk that comes with it (contract, assets, long-term suspension)? Or will they wait until after April 1st, potentially missing out on other veteran options, to put their name in the Watson sweepstakes (if he isn’t traded beforehand)?

Kirk Cousins - Ha, you can relax; I’m just joking.

Russell Wilson - Wilson has already stated this off-season that he wants to know his options related to potential destinations for him. Wilson has a no-trade clause in his contract, which means he has decision-making power, so he and Seattle will need to work together if both sides decide to move on.

The chances of Wilson and Seattle separating is slim in my eyes, but when it comes to Wilson, you have to consider the other teams who have more buying power than the Washington Commanders. Two of which belong in Washington’s division in the New York Giants with two 2021 top ten first-round picks, and the Philadelphia Eagles with three 2021 top 19 first-round picks. They aren’t the only teams Washington would compete with; the Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders have been unofficially floated out there as AFC options that Seattle and Wilson may consider.

Carson Wentz - If you look at Wentz’s stats on the surface (3,564 yards, 27 touchdowns, and seven interceptions), you can easily fall in love with Wentz as a viable option for Washington.

However, I suggest that you dig a little deeper. But before we do that, let’s debunk one narrative surrounding Wentz. While it is true that the questions surrounding his leadership or locker room presence have existed for a couple of years now, there has been no true reporting about leadership or locker room issues during his one season with the Colts.

Jeff Darlington of ESPN is a well-respected reporter, so don’t take this as me saying that he’s a liar. I want to communicate that the leadership concerns are based on Darlington’s opinion as he observed Wentz’s demeanor on the sideline of the Colts loss versus the Jaguars in week 18. Secondly, what he officially reported is that the Colts “didn’t “necessarily fall in love” with him from the leadership perspective.” Now, with the context in front of you, does this scream “terrible leader”? I don’t think this does, objectively speaking. If you ask star linebacker Darius Leonard or star running back Jonathan Taylor, it also contradicts the leadership or locker room narrative out there.

Regarding his play, as Zack Hicks of Sports Illustrated stated in the interview I did with him, he is a volatile quarterback who can play at a high level at times. However, he also has processing issues and struggles to incorporate all field levels in his reads consistently. In terms of trades, what makes sense for the Colts, who face a $15 million cap hit if they moved on from him this year? It’s easier to keep him for 2022 and face no dead money next season as his contract expires. However, if the Colts see value in trading him this year, Wentz may be one of the easier trade targets to acquire.

Aaron Rodgers - Yesterday, ESPN’s Dianna Russini reported Green Bay expects Aaron Rodgers to inform the Packers of his decision soon, and that there are multiple teams with offers on the table, ready to go. Unfortunately, a new report from Russini this morning on ESPN 980’s Kevin Sheehan Show suggests that Rodgers’s “shortlist” of teams does not include Washington.

Obviously, take that for what it’s worth; Russini is a well-respected reporter. However, if you are hoping that Rodgers does change his mind, let’s go through the exercise. Rodgers also has a no-trade clause in his contract, like Watson and Wilson. So who would Washington be competing with for Rodgers? The AFC would make the most sense knowing the quality of quarterback Rodgers is. So that means the Denver Broncos and the Miami Dolphins first, who have the draft capital and some players to spare. Secondly, the Eagles have the draft capital, and a quarterback in Jalen Hurts that they could send to Green Bay in return. Washington’s best bet would be three first-round picks as a starting point, but is that worth it for a soon-to-be 39-year old quarterback?

Tua Tagovailoa - Tua has had a tumultuous time in Miami thus far, hardly the fault of his own. However, between former HC Brian Flores and the Dolphins upper management’s point of view, there were mixed reviews on Tagovailoa.

It may be the case now that Miami has officially cooled down on trading for Watson, and new HC Mike McDaniel may choose to invest their money in building a better offensive unit to surround Tagovailoa with. However, I would not count Miami out of the post-April 1st sweepstakes for Watson, leaving Tua as a viable option for teams to consider heading into the NFL draft. For a quarterback of Tagovailoa’s caliber, Miami wouldn’t restrict their offers to just an NFC team; they would listen to any team with the most substantial offer. Unofficially, there is a possibility that McDaniel may want to bring in Jimmy G to head the ship in Miami. So Washington’s main competition, if they do decide that Tagovailoa is a legitimate option for them (assuming he is on the block), is the 49ers.

Free Agent Options

Jameis Winston - Winston, who was 5-2 as a starter for the New Orleans Saints in 2021, unfortunately, tore his ACL midway through the season. Winston’s name brings a ton of mixed opinions along with it; some believe he turns the ball over way too much for their liking, while others believe he understands defenses and the quarterback position exceptionally well. The truth is in the middle, and in 2021, he turned the ball over three times in seven games. While there are fans who would like the idea of Winston as a bridge option, I think there’s a high likelihood of Winston returning to New Orleans. Their new head coach (and their former DC), Dennis Allen, has familiarity with him, and they do not have a true quarterback option on their roster right now. So re-signing Winston for another year or two may be a thing of mutual interest between both parties.

Mitchell Trubisky - Trubisky is a player who had to take a significant step back in his role with an organization following his falling out with the Chicago Bears. This team took him second overall in the 2017 NFL draft. The five-year veteran is heading into his sixth season with 50 career starts under his belt and a 29-21 record. The issues in Chicago were mixed; he and former head coach Matt Nagy did not get along, Trubisky dealt with shoulder labrum issues, and Trubisky’s lack of experience left him feeling “robotic” in Nagy’s offense. “After being in Chicago for four years, there was only one way I knew how to do things,” Trubisky said about his lessons learned over the past year to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. [Being] in Buffalo and [having] a different way of doing things, you learn what’s possible. It helped me get back to instinctual football and using my talents rather than overthinking.” Given his experience in Buffalo, the main competition that Washington would face for Trubisky would be the New York Giants. Their head coach Brian Daboll was his offensive coordinator in Buffalo.

Marcus Mariota - Named the most underrated free-agent quarterback by Pro Football Focus, Mariota enters the new league year as a legitimate bridge option for numerous quarterback-needy teams. Since joining the Las Vegas Raiders, Mariota appeared in 11 games, primarily serving as a run threat as he accumulated 22 carries for 175 yards and two touchdowns. In the one game where he saw the most action as a passer, he threw for 226 passing yards on 17 of 28 attempts, with one touchdown and one interception. Mariota, albeit unofficial, has been linked to the Houston Texans, San Fransisco 49ers, Denver Broncos, the Green Bay Packers, and Washington. Of course, Mariota will have suitors; will he be willing to leave the West Coast for a new opportunity?

Teddy Bridgewater - The momentum that existed behind Bridgewater’s name has subsided due to his past couple of stints as a starter for the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos. After the Saints went 5-0 with Bridgewater as the starter in 2019, things went downhill from a win-loss standpoint the following two seasons. The Panthers were 4-11 in 2020, and the Broncos went 7-7 in 2021 with him as their starter, respectively. Nevertheless, many tout Bridgewater as a leader and another viable bridge option for a team in 2022. While Teddy may be a safe and conservative option, the Broncos, an offensive unit that he’s already familiar with, might need a bridge quarterback themselves as they search for their quarterback of the future.

Where they rank

  1. Mitchell Trubisky
  2. Marcus Mariota
  3. Deshaun Watson
  4. Jimmy Garoppolo
  5. Teddy Bridgewater
  6. Carson Wentz
  7. Jameis Winston
  8. Russell Wilson
  9. Tua Tagovailoa
  10. Aaron Rodgers