Who Will Play Quarterback For the Washington Football Team Next Season?
The Washington Football Team made a bit of a surprise playoff run this year after going 3-13 in 2019 and earning the No. 2 overall pick in the draft. How meaningful that is is another matter entirely, given they were the best of the worst division in football and didn't finish with a record over .500. Still, they didn't make it easy for the eventual NFC champion Buccaneers in the Wild Card round, and the team has enough good players to make a repeat of it all in 2021.
The big problem is quarterback. More than a few franchises have a big question mark at the most important position in football heading into this offseason, and Washington is one of them. Dwayne Haskins was supposed to be the future and got cut. Alex Smith wasn't supposed to be able to walk after his severe injury a few years back, but recovered to the point he was able to start six games. A great story, but given Smith averaged 197 passing yards per game and 6.3 yards per attempt, his days of playing at an above-average level are probably gone. Nobody would be surprised if he retired this offseason. Head coach Ron Rivera didn't give any definitive answer on that front when asked about the possibility today.
If Smith retires, that leaves Kyle Allen and playoff hero Taylor Heinicke as the only active quarterbacks on the roster. Allen has started 17 games in his three years of professional football. In those games, he averages 220 passing yards per game, 6.9 yards per attempt, and has thrown 23 touchdowns to 17 interceptions. He isn't godawful, but he isn't the next great backup-turned-starter, either. Heinicke was a fun story but has ridden the bench for three teams in three years for a reason.
If this were a bridge year of some sort or if Washington was loaded at the skill positions, Rivera could talk his staff into rolling into the 2021 season with those two (assuming Smith retires or the coaching staff recognizes his best days are behind him) with a Day 1 or 2 draft pick added and making the best of it. But neither of those things are true. Washington knows they have a legitimate playoff squad with their overwhelming defensive line. A bridge year is not an option. Nor are they good enough at receiver and running back to overcome QB deficiencies. Terry McLaurin is a stud and Antonio Gibson came on strong, but the cupboard isn't overflowing outside those two.
Plus, Rivera is getting older. He left the Panthers because he didn't want to go through a full-on rebuild, and I can't imagine he'll willingly participate in a one-year quasi-rebuild while Washington figures out who will throw the ball. So what do they do?
Fortunately, this offseason will present lots of options. There's Deshaun Watson, but that will never happen since he has a no-trade clause and will not agree to go from one terrible front office/ownership situation to another. The team was probably in on the Matthew Stafford conversations but he's in Los Angeles now and Jared Goff is in Detroit. The only other high-end starter available to acquire via trade might be Derek Carr according to the most recent reports, but the Raiders will want to replace Carr in one fell swoop if they trade him and the Football Team has no options to offer in that regard.
The free agent market contains some intrigue. There's Cam Newton, but Rivera had every opportunity to sign his former QB while operating as GM for Washington this offseason and declined to do so. Jameis Winston would be interesting but the Saints want him back and he shouldn't be lacking for offers. Mitchell Trubisky would be a reclamation project perhaps worth looking into if the Bears decide they've had enough. Gardner Minshew still has potential and wouldn't cost too much for any team looking to trade for him.
But if I may be so bold as to suggest who might be the best option available: Jacoby Brissett! Yes, that Jacoby Brissett. He is a free agent this offseason after riding the pine behind Philip Rivers in 2020. But he did display signs of competency in his one season as a starter in 2019. His final numbers from that season: 2,942 yards with 18 touchdowns to six interceptions, an average of 196 yards per game and 6.6 yards per attempt. No, those numbers are not substantially better than Allen's career stats. But the interception rate is low, and Brissett comes with the added benefit of being a legitimate threat on the ground.
Washington could swing big and go for a shinier name like Winston. That could result in a home run or a huge whiff. Brissett wouldn't cost that much and would probably take less money for a chance at a starting job. He takes care of the ball. He may not be the sole reason his team wins games, but most of the time he won't be the sole reason they lose. That's exactly what Washington needed from their QBs last season and found middling success.
No matter what ends up happening, the Football Team needs to bring in a Football Quarterback of some type this offseason. They can't stick with Allen and Heinicke or Smith if he returns. Brissett would be worth looking into.