There’s been a lot of debate surrounding who the Washington Football Team should trade for at quarterback, but here’s a better question. Should they trade for any of them?
Any Breaking Bad viewers in the audience? Remember the advice Mike Ehrmantraut gave Walter White in Season 3? “No half-measures?” That advice would come back to bite Mike and the rest of the Los Pollos crime organization (Spoilers), but it’s much safer in application when discussing the Washington Football Team.
The meaning of the saying is fairly transparent, even if you haven’t seen the show before. Basically, if you’re going to do something, go all-in., because indecisiveness and inefficient allocation of resources could hurt down the road.
It’s taken weeks of looking at the Washington Football Team’s potential quarterback options for me to reach this point, but I’ve come to the conclusion that the Washington Football Team should avoid all half-measures when seeking to settle, or at least stabilize their quarterback situation.
This conclusion demands further questioning: What constitutes a half-measure at quarterback? To answer that, let’s start with the full-measures.
For Washington to enact a full-measure, they’d have to acquire a quarterback unequivocally capable of winning them games in 2021, or unequivocally in possession of that potential. Moves under this umbrella include a trade for Deshaun Watson, Dak Prescott, or Russell Wilson, or a trade up for one of the NFL Draft’s top four quarterbacks — Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Zach Wilson, and Trey Lance.
In my opinion, if the Washington Football Team can’t do any of those things, then they should instead use their resources as sparingly as possible when it comes to the quarterback position. Because realistically, it’s not entirely certain that other options will be worth their asking price.
There are quite a few potential starters on the free agent and trade markets this offseason, but the term “potential starter” masks the futility of spending resources to make a near-lateral move. For me, it’s all about comparative value. That’s where the desire to avoid half-measures lies.
Half-measure quarterbacks on the market include Marcus Mariota, Sam Darnold, Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr, Jimmy Garoppolo, and others. The reported prices for trade candidates at QB vary somewhat, but most of them will at least cost a Day 2 pick. Some, like Mariota, might dwell closer to an early Day 3 pick, but at that point, there are also financial considerations to take into account, as Mariota has lots of incentive money tied to him in 2021 if he starts.
Hypothetically, let’s say the Washington Football Team trades a second-round pick for Darnold, or a first-round pick for Carr, or a third-round pick for Bridgewater. Is the value added by Darnold, or Carr, or Bridgewater, great enough to supersede the value of simply keeping all draft picks and rolling with Taylor Heinicke or Kyle Allen? Unless a best-case scenario plays out, I’m inclined to think the answer is “no”.
More likely than not, a half-measure simply dilutes Washington’s ability to build with draft capital and cap space, and a half-measure also puts them in short-term QB purgatory — a position from which they might not pick high enough in 2022 to get their legitimate quarterback of the future. In an ideal world, yes, Mariota or Darnold would be able to develop in D.C. But one can’t ignore what they’ve become.
Both Mariota and Darnold are massive reclamation projects, and the probabilities are higher that any deal made for them will ultimately disappoint, and leave Washington short-changed in terms of capital. Bridgewater is a middle-tier starter, but Washington has the same predicament if they trade for him. They ship off valuable capital and cap space for a quarterback who wins them six or seven games. Derek Carr is a little better, but is he even good enough to recoup that lost value?
Simply put, if the Washington Football Team can’t trade for Watson, Prescott, or Wilson, or trade up for a franchise quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft, they need to be prudent and frugal with their resources. There’s nothing wrong with being patient and timely with your quarterback situation. If nothing is there, don’t try to force it. Save your resources, sign a low-priced free agent quarterback like Ryan Fitzpatrick or Brandon Allen or C.J. Beathard, and try a year with Heinicke or Allen.
If Heinicke or Allen somehow becomes the long-term solution? Great. If not, then you’re still in a better situation than you would be if you used assets to execute a half-measure. You still have draft capital and space for contracts, you’re likely picking relatively high, and you can use your retained resources to better pursue a full-measure in 2022. If I’m going to make a gamble, I want it to be a good one.
There’s been a lot of debate surrounding half-measure quarterbacks this offseason, but the fact of the matter is, they might not deserve the airtime. Anything less than a full-measure at quarterback is a waste of time and resources, and the Washington Football Team should use discretion when seeking out ways to fill their largest need. For Washington in 2021, it’s full-measure or bust.