I want to share a brief story from many years ago. If anyone from the Washington Football Team’s upper management is reading, please keep it in mind over the next several months.
Thirty-some years ago, a few friends and I were visiting New York and decided to go to a Mets game. We didn’t have tickets but I was certain we could get them at the gate. It was a lovely weekend afternoon, but I still felt pretty sure the game wasn’t going to sell out.
As I drove into the parking lot, a scalper approached. He said the game was sold out but that he could get us good seats for $20 a pop. Long story short, we bought them. When we went into the old Shea Stadium, I saw the box office was selling tickets for $4. I felt like an idiot.
The point of this story is – I panicked. And you almost never win when you panic.
I’m thinking of this with the Friday morning news breaking that New England has re-signed Cam Newton for another season. Since Newton has been often tied to the Washington Football Team for the 2021 season, I am very worried that removing him from the quarterback pool will have the same impact that the scalper had on me so many years ago in the Shea parking lot.
I am worried the Washington Football Team will panic.
First, Newton’s signing with New England is a good thing. Newton is still a very good runner and an experienced signal caller. But after watching every game he played for the Pats in 2020, I am convinced he can no longer throw the ball consistently enough to be an upper-echelon quarterback in the NFL.
Is he better than Kyle Allen and Taylor Heinicke – the two quarterbacks Washington currently has heading into the 2021 season? Yes, he probably is. Is that difference so significant that Washington should have considered spending the $14 million that New England is ponying up for 2021? No. Absolutely not. 14 million times no.
It’s a moot point. Newton never made it to free agency. Obviously the brain trust in New England saw enough to make the investment, which may say more about Jarrett Stidham and Jimmy Garoppolo than about Newton.
The Newton news may put both Jimmy G and Alabama draft prospect Mac Jones more in play for Washington. New England was linked to both players. I would assume Newton’s signing removes Garoppolo from that conversation, and we don’t know at this point if it means that San Francisco is less eager to move him than many have assumed, or if Bill Belichick is less enamored of him.
It does not necessarily mean that New England would not consider selecting Jones with the 15th pick in this year’s draft, assuming he is still on the board. They still have a long-term QB question. But I assume it makes the pick far less likely.
So perhaps the Newton signing increases the chances – just a tiny bit – that one of those players winds up on the Washington Football Team. I don’t especially want either, though as with every roster move, this comes down to a cost/benefit proposition.
And this is where the panic is apt to set in.
How much would you trade for Garoppolo? Would you consider trading up in the first round to ensure you can pick Jones?
I would not trade anything higher than a single Day 3 pick for Jimmy G. If he can be had for fifth-rounder, then I think that’s good value. And since I would not even select Jones with Washington’s original first-round pick (No. 19), there is no way I would trade up to get him.
This applies across the board to other potential trade candidates or free agents. At this stage of building, you simply cannot give up the draft capital or cap space it would probably take to acquire a marginal talent like Marcus Mariota or Teddy Bridgewater. The Washington Football Team is better off building the rest of the roster and going into 2021 with Allen, Heinicke, and perhaps a low-cost short-term veteran like Ryan Fitzpatrick or Tyrod Taylor.
If a higher-upside young QB like Jameis Winston or Sam Darnold becomes available, you can do your cost/benefit analysis again and come to a new decision. But there’s nothing wrong with strategic waiting.
Here’s one more story to close. Here’s some advice that Arnold Rothstein gave to Nucky Thompson on Boardwalk Empire – maybe the greatest show ever on television:
“I’ve made my living, Mr. Thompson, in large part as a gambler. Some days I make twenty bets. Some days I make none. There are weeks, sometimes months in fact when I don’t make a bet at all, because there simply is no play. So I wait, plan, marshal my resources. And when I finally see an opportunity, and there is a bet to make, I bet it all.”
Arnold Rothstein did not panic. Nor should the Washington Football Team.