One of the lesser known rumors in the Redskins organization was formally made over the weekend when it was reported that quarterback Alex Smith will miss the 2019 season recovering from his horrific right leg injury. The original diagnosis was for Smith to miss 9-10 months. The injury was of course was made worse by the infection that was incurred during his emergency surgery. Smith’s injury ,which initially wasn’t career threatening, now is and puts the franchise in a tough situation. Smith counts $20.4 million against the cap this year and $21.4 million next year before the Redskins can get out of his deal. That severely limits how the Redskins can attack this issue.
The quick fix option is to sign a free agent quarterback. The names that are out there include: Teddy Bridgewater, Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco, Ryan Tannehill, Blake Bortles, and Robert Griffin III. Some of these listed are probably too expensive to sign. Others are not worth the Redskins’ signing. Dalton is the named most being floated around because of his connection with head coach Jay Gruden. Outside of Bridgewater, the Redskins should not pursue any of these targets. The money that would be tied up in the quarterback would not allow for the signing or extension of key free agents elsewhere on the roster.
The 2019 draft features some interesting prospects, but is not considered a strong class for quarterbacks. The top prospects include: Dewayne Haskins, Will Grier, Drew Lock, and Kyler Murray. These four are considered the cream of the crop and could go anywhere in the first two rounds. There are some QB needy teams that pick well ahead of the Redskins: New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cincinnati Bengals, and possibly Detroit, Oakland, and Tampa as well. All of those teams pick ahead of the Redskins at 15 and Haskins and Murray could well be gone. Grier could get snatched early and then the Redskins would be reaching at that point. There are some second and third day prospects that the Redskins should definitely target. In the first and second round the Redskins have many other positions to address: left guard/center, wide receiver, cornerback, safety, and possibly a rush end. That is where the early rounds of the draft should be focused.
The Redskins already have another quarterback under contract for 2019, Colt McCoy. The other players who started at quarterback for the Redskins are available Josh Johnson and Mark Sanchez. Coach Jay Gruden would not have a problem having McCoy as his starting quarterback for the 2019 season but upper management may. Signing Josh Johnson to be a backup would also be a pretty smart move for the team to make. This allows the Redskins to draft a young quarterback to learn the system behind those two veterans in the later rounds of the draft. In this scenario, the Redskins can extend free agents like Brandon Scherff, sign a veteran safety, and draft a young interior lineman and defensive backs. This is what I suggest that the Redskins should do.
This situation for the Redskins is compounded by the worst attendance in team history last season. Attendance numbers were already low when the team was in first place with Smith, had the bottom fall out when the injuries rattled the team. The Philadelphia Eagles game looked like it was played at Lincoln Financial Field with a split of close to 80% to 20% green. So a strategy of a flashy move could be used to generate interest in the team. Hopefully the team wouldn’t consider that but with the Redskins, anything is possible.