The Washington Redskins find themselves in a bind regarding the most important position in football. Over the past year, Washington lost Kirk Cousins to free agency and Alex Smith to a potentially career ending injury.
An already frustrating conundrum continues to look murky when it comes to draft position. If the season ended today, the Redskins would pick 17th in the 2019 NFL Draft. This quarterback class is considered weak at the top and lacking depth down the stretch.
To say the Redskins may have to get creative at the quarterback position is an understatement. Cutting Smith would result in $40 million in dead money and they will have an estimated $17 million in salary cap space, according to spotrac. Creative options are still options, however, and Washington does have options. Outside of drafting a quarterback in the first round, Jay Gruden and company have many different stones to turn.
Sign Nick Mullens to a multi-year contract
Many thought the San Francisco 49ers wouldn’t win another game after franchise quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo went down with a season ending injury in week three. After some shuffling at the position, Nick Mullens has settled in as the team’s de facto starter and shows promise as a developing quarterback.
The first year pro has endeared himself in six starts this year, throwing for 10 touchdowns, only 6 interceptions and nearly 1,800 yards. He’s thrown for at least 250 yards and a score in five of his six starts and is coming off a two game winning streak against the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks.
For the Redskins, Mullens is a cheaper option but one with upside. He’s had enough consistent success to be alluring and could be sold to a fanbase as a developing prospect that can improve with more playing time. The 23-year-old shows enough promise to warrant a shot at a full-time starting job.
Trade for Jameis Winston
Talent trumps all in the NFL and there is no greater example of that than Jameis Winston. Seemingly always in the news for some sort of off-the-field issue, Winston seems to have worn out his welcome in Tampa Bay. It’s likely the team will try to move on from the former first overall pick once the season has ended. The good news for Washington is that Winston still shows flashes of the player he was drafted to be. In a league where wins are paramount, it’s difficult to be picky.
Winston is only 24-years-old and a change of scenery could fix some of his behavioral and playing woes.
The tricky part of this scenario is cap space and trade compensation. Winston’s 5th year option is worth over $20 million and and the Buccaneers could take lower compensation to get that money off the books. The Redskins would have to cut some salary in order to take on that contract, however. They’d likely be forced to cut Smith and absorb over $40 million in dead cap. The Redskins could package players and draft picks to balance out their cap and still get a young quarterback who formerly played at a Pro Bowl level.
Sign Teddy Bridgewater to a multi-year contract
The past few years have been tumultuous for Teddy Bridgewater. Entering his third year, he was on every short list as a breakout candidate. A shredded knee in training camp put an end to those aspirations and he’s played sparingly since 2015. The knee injury effectively ended his Vikings career and after signing with the Jets this past off-season, he was traded to the New Orleans Saints. Bridgewater has only thrown one pass this season.
He is a wildcard, but Bridgewater showed well in the 2018 pre-season. The Redskins could try to salvage the ability he showed before the knee injury. They won’t be alone, however, as the Saints and other teams will likely bid for Bridgewater’s services. The New York Giants come to mind as another team that could make a run at the former 32nd overall pick. Pat Shurmur, former Vikings offensive coordinator, could replace the aging Eli Manning with Bridgewater. The cap issues in Washington could create a problem for them if there is a bidding war that gets out of control. Quarterbacks always command more money compared to projections.
After the Vikings signed former Redskins starter, Kirk Cousins, it would seem fitting that Bridgewater ends up in Washington. Jay Gruden’s ability to get the most out of his quarterbacks makes this destination more appealing than many others around the league.