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With the Sunday slate of the 2021 season only a few days away, Washington and the rest of the NFL are preparing for the long grind of the 17 game schedule. Most teams have their QBs all but penciled in for this year and years to come; however, Washington is in a situation at quarterback that is questionable, at the very least. Will Ryan Fitzpatrick provide any stability for this year? Is Taylor Heinicke ready to step in if Fitzmagic turns to Fitztragic? Who will be the future at quarterback for the franchise? Was Ron Rivera and the front office wise not picking a signal caller in the draft? These are the questions that fans and media are asking, and this season’s quarterback play will be massive indication of what needs to be done to solidify the most important position on the field.
It is not crazy to say that the WFT is a quarterback away from being a contender in the NFC. Yes, being 7-9 and winners of the worst division in football is not saying much. But, they have one of the best defenses in the league, have solid weapons on offense with a good offensive line, and won their division with the worst quarterback play of any team in the NFL. This is not an exaggeration…they were 32nd in total QBR. So, with that in mind, if they can have even middle of the road QB play, they would be that much better. Who is it that can provide that, though?
ON THE ROSTER
This offseason, Washington released their once first round draft pick Dwayne Haskins and Alex Smith retired. They signed journeyman Taylor Heinicke to a two year deal and veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick to a one year deal with Kyle Allen staying as the third stringer. Fitzpatrick, who is now on his ninth team, has bounced around the NFL since he entered the league in 2005. As stated above, he can either play as Fitzmagic or tragic, often times from game to game. Over the past three seasons, he has shown improvement in his consistency, but with him being 38, he is not the long term answer at the position. Even more of a question mark is Taylor Heinicke. Last year, he was preparing for his Master’s exam when he got the call from Washington to be a backup due to injuries. He shined in garbage time against the Panthers, and gave the eventual Super Bowl Champions the toughest test they faced in the playoffs. But with only a very limited number of starts and injury concerns, is he reliable enough to carry a team for a whole season? Of the two of these guys, I could see Heinicke being an answer in the short term. If he learns to protect himself while scrambling, he has enough accuracy, touch, and good decision making to run this offense at least for his two year contract.
There are 3 players that I could see WFT trading for in the offseason that could fill their need. All three are big names that would require a ton of capital to attain but would be well worth it. The first, and to me the most impactful is:
1) Deshaun Watson – although amid a massive sexual assault investigation from the NFL, Watson’s talent and potential for the future of Washington’s franchise is undeniable. He is frustrated with the Texan’s organization and wants out as soon as possible. Inserting Watson into Washington’s offense, with his incredible arm and playmaking ability with his legs would fit seamlessly. Ron Rivera would love to have another mobile quarterback like he did in Carolina with Cam Newton, with the added bonus of Watson’s throwing ability. It would take a king’s ransom to acquire Watson including plenty of draft picks and probably a player or two, but it would be all but worth it in the end.
2) Aaron Rodgers – Rodgers was clearly frustrated with Green Bay this offseason, and even though they ended up settling in the end, Rodgers has the option to walk this next offseason and sign wherever he wants. Adding Rodgers would instantly make Washington a Super Bowl contender. The downside to Rodgers is his age at 37. He has a few good years left, but the cycle will inevitably start all over again rather quickly. That being said, Rodgers is a cannot miss add to most any roster and is a no brainer Washington.
This next option is not an elite name but could thrive in this offense.
3) Derek Carr – Carr has not been lucky when it comes to offensive schemes and talent around him. He lost Amari Cooper a few seasons ago and has not recovered since his being traded to Dallas. However, Carr shows impressive arm strength and accuracy, he just needs good protection because he is not all that mobile. Throwing him in could prove to be a fresh start and a career turnaround for Carr.
Of course there are more options, but in my opinion, these three names could put Washington into a good situation for the future.
2022 NFL Draft and Beyond
It has been clearly stated by Ron Rivera and the rest of the organization that they are not going to rush into their decision at QB. Not trading up or taking any of the Big 4 QBs this past draft made it clear they are happy to be patient and develop what they have in-house. But it cannot be understated that drafting a rookie and even having them sit for a year under a veteran (like Patrick Maholmes) is a clear option that could be taken. Obviously, this all depends on where we pick, who we keep and who we acquire, etc. Nevertheless, there are plenty of options. Excluding the top 2 in Spencer Rattler and Sam Howell, other notable prospects in the mid to late first round that I could see being added include: Desmond Ritter, Carson Strong, Matt Corall, JT Daniels, or Malik Willis. All of these guys could use a year to sit and learn because this is not an elite QB class and none of them are day 1 starters. In 2023, Washington will have the choice between DJ Uiagaleiei, CJ Stroud, and Bryce Young who will be household names by the end of next season.
There are a ton of factors going into this season when thinking about Washington’s future at the quarterback position. There is no question, however, that Rivera and the organization are being patient and building a great roster around whoever will be the franchise guy. When that time comes to have a franchise QB, they will have a great offensive line, good weapons including Terry McLaurin and Antonio Gibson, and one of the best defenses in the entire NFL. That sounds like a recipe to be successful for years to come.