There’s a chance Alex Smith’s career is over. But the Redskins should think twice before rushing to find a new franchise quarterback.
There’s no sugarcoating it: The Washington Redskins have a quarterback problem. Their anointed starter, Alex Smith, is in danger of never playing again, and the options behind him are less than stellar. Josh Johnson showed promise as a capable backup in 2018, and Colt McCoy has experience in the system. But neither signal caller is a player Washington can win with.
The natural inclination, therefore, is to fill the need, as quickly as possible. But going all-in on a quarterback too soon, for the Redskins, is a dangerous game.
Sometime in the near future, on the geologic timescale, the Redskins will have to eventually go all-in on a quarterback. The circumstances demand it. But 2019 could very well be the wrong year to do so, and it is a culmination of factors that leads to this conclusion.
More from Riggo's Rag
- Highlighting the best Commanders 2023 NFL Draft betting props
- 3 late Commanders rumors drawing buzz ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft
- 4 bold predictions for the Commanders 2023 NFL Draft
- Commanders News: Chase Young trade, draft day, CB riser and Sam Howell
- Bet365 VA Bonus Code – Claim $200 Guaranteed With Sign-Up Bonus
First and foremost, the 2019 NFL Draft is a fairly weak quarterback class. After Justin Herbert’s choice to return to college for a senior season, the only quarterback with a good chance of going in the first round is Dwayne Haskins, and even he has his flaws that make him far from a sure thing (Not mobile, some accuracy inconsistency). Aside from Haskins, there are more questions than answers, and it makes Washington’s first-round pick look much more valuable if spent elsewhere.
Additionally, this rookie, if theoretically taken with Washington’s 2018 first-round pick, would be thrown into an unsavory situation, on a team with lots of needs, little cap room, and a sizable investment in injury-prone players. The said rookie would also have to fit Jay Gruden’s scheme to sustain success, as Gruden has shown that he prefers to mold players to his scheme, as opposed to the more effective inverse.
Some may point to the Ravens’ 2018 offseason as a blueprint for what the Redskins should do: Nab a first-round quarterback, and move on from a financially cumbersome veteran the following year, after a season of acclimation. There is a stark difference in the two situations, however: Joe Flacco’s contract is expiring now. Per Spotrac, Alex Smith’s doesn’t expire until 2023. If Washington were to release him after the start of the new football year, they’d incur upon themselves $42 million in dead cap. If they were to release him next year? $16.2 million. So sure, you can add another quarterback. But you can’t just move on from Alex Smith.
Smith’s contract hamstrings the Redskins’ ability to build their roster, and it drains away the benefits of having a rookie on a cheap, four-year deal. Signing an experienced free agent instead wouldn’t work either; having two quarterbacks on starters’ deals is a death knell for any roster construction, and with just $17 million in cap space, the Redskins don’t have nearly enough to enter that market. And even if they cut players to make room (which they don’t appear willing to do), it would be a senseless business decision, both in the short-term and the long-term.
No one wants to accept it, but the Redskins’ best course of action might be to roll with Colt McCoy, or Josh Johnson, or a mid-round rookie like Brett Rypien, Will Grier, or others, in 2019. That way, they keep it cheap, and while they might fall out of contention in 2019, they’ll have a higher pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, a class that’s better stocked with proven quarterback talent. In contrast, committing high-value resources to the wrong quarterback in 2018 could set the franchise back even further. Washington simply doesn’t have the capacity to force the issue without consequences.
The Redskins have a need at quarterback. But they’re not in a good position to address that need; a need that must only be addressed heavily when the time, and the circumstances, are right. Sometimes, things need to get worse before they get better. Clinging to a car with three wheels, just because it’s “one wheel away”, is just another way to keep middling among the NFL ranks.