Updated: Feb 17, 2021
In a year in which the supply for QB is low and the need is high, Washington heads into the offseason, once again, searching for a franchise quarterback. Many fans were hopeful that Washington would be involved in the Matt Stafford sweepstakes, although they reportedly offered selections in the 1st and 3rd rounds of this years draft, but they were outbid by Los Angeles for Stafford's services.
It remains to be seen if the attempt to trade for Stafford will be their "all in" move of the offseason or if Ron Rivera makes a strong push to get his next franchise quarterback this year. Although Washington missed out on Stafford, finding another quarterback via trade, free agency or even the draft isn't out of the question.
We'll go through a few possible scenarios and ways in which Rivera could fill a position that has been an issue in Washington for decades.
The Hail Mary
It's been well publicized that Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson wants out of Houston. Watson signed a LTD less than a year ago and has 5 years remaining on his contract with a no trade clause. This could be a battle of chicken between Houston and Watson. After seeing the Stafford trade package (QB Jared Goff, 2022 and 2023 1st rounders and a 3rd round pick in this year's draft), this could be the most unprecedented trade package ever seen in sports.
It's been reported that Houston, although reluctant, is seeking three 1st-round draft picks in addition to two defensive starters. A blue chip prospect such as Chase Young would surely be part of the requested compensation if Washington entered into the bidding war for Watson. Some fans believe Washington should do whatever it takes to get Watson to D.C., but will Riviera be willing to go all-in on a Hail Mary type trade?
The Open Market
Free Agent veteran quarterbacks that have made their rounds around the league, such as Tyrod Taylor, would be the type of cap-friendly quarterback signing that gives Rivera a potential bridge until the 2022 Draft. Other potential cap-friendly free agents include Jameis Winston, Cam Newton, Jacoby Brissett or Mitchell Trubisky. Dallas owner Jerry Jones will likely re-signs Dak Prescott for those wondering why he wasn't mentioned.
Rivera has shown he'll be aggressive for a player he believes can be a difference maker. If we're keeping count though, he failed in his attempt to sign receiver Amari Cooper, even though they reportedly outbid Dallas. Now this offseason, they've came up short on acquiring Matthew Stafford. With Kyle Allen an ERFA (Exclusive Rights Free Agent), he'll likely be back with a $900k veteran minimum price tag.
As for Taylor Heinicke, he's a Restricted Free Agent (RFA). What that means is that Washington has the option of three tenders: First would be using the 1st round tender with a $4.87 million 1 year price tag. In the unlikely scenario a team is interested (based on compensation), they would owe Washington a 1st round pick. The second scenario is using the 2nd round tender, which would come with a $3.42 million price tag. The last scenario would involve assigning Heinicke to the tender, which would cost Washington $2.24 million . Out of all the options, the last seems the most unlikely considering Washington would get no compensation in return since Heinicke was an UDFA (Undrafted Free Agent).
Bringing back both quarterbacks, Heinicke and Allen, seems likely, simply based on their cost and experience in Scott Turner's system. Heinicke showed flashes of brilliance against Tampa in their playoff loss, but he can't be handed the job based on that performance alone.
Even with the likelihood that Allen and Heinicke are brought back, another quarterback will certainly be in the equation.
The Dark Horse
The Raiders haven't had any formal connections to a trade for Deshaun Watson, but speculation is certainly related to the sparse quarterback market. Las Vegas could field a decent package in return for quarterback Derek Carr after seeing what Detroit got in return for Stafford and make a run for Watson. In his 7th season, Carr had his highest career passing yard total with 4,103 yds 27 td's 9 ints and a 71.0 QBR. His trade value could be the highest it'll ever be and he'll only be 30 when the season begins.
The hypothetical debate has already started about the potential compensation for Carr, which many believe could involve multiple 1st round picks. That should put Washington out of the running, but adding a player to a potential trade package rather than a another 1st round pick, could be an option. If the speculation is true, fans should fully expect Washington to be in the running.
At pick #19, names like Alabama's Mac Jones have been frequently mocked to Washington. Many would agree that although Jones showed flashes, he looks to be better suited as a backup rather than a franchise starting quarterback. In the end, selecting Jones at #19 would be a reach not worth taking.
The premier names at quarterback in this year's class are Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance and Justin Fields. Similar to the Carr speculation, there has been buzz about Washington's potential interest in trading up for Fields. Pulling off a move such as that would likely involve trading up into the top 10. The cost would be pricey and somewhere in the realm of their 2021 1st rd pick and 2nd /3rd, 2022 1st round and possibly even more.
During today's introductory news conference for Washington's front office hires, Ron Rivera had the following to say about the Stafford trade and finding a franchise quarterback,
"I don't want to get into a situation where we can't put playmakers around our guy. We want to be able to protect our guy. That's something we have to make sure we can do. We'll explore all our options."
They'll also have options on Day 2-3 with prospects such as Mac Jones, Kellen Mond, Kyle Trask, and Jaime Newman, just to name a few. If you're not excited about those names as potential franchise quarterbacks, you're not alone. Although Washington will likely draft a quarterback, regardless of what they do in free agency, it's becoming clear that upgrading the quarterback position this offseason will be a challenge.
As Ron Rivera mentioned, being able to surround a franchise QB with playmakers is imperative. Finding a potential bridge quarterback in free agency could be Rivera's most likely path with Deshaun Watson being the exception, as long as Washington can put together the most enticing package for Houston.
Stay tuned for more Washington analysis and possible directions Washington could go in free agency and the draft at other positions of need.
*Credit photos to Washingtonfootball.com and Elijah Walter Griffin Sr/Washington Football Team
Written By Adam Aniba