October 19, 2021

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Fit And Go Forward

‘I like Matt Stafford but what’s it going to cost you?’

Joe Theismann: ‘I like Matt Stafford but what’s it going to cost you?’ originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

It’s not lack of investment that’s hurt the Washington Football Team when it’s come to the quarterback position. In fact, each of the last three years Washington has made a move to bring in a new passer, including two major moves. 

In 2020, Washington traded a fifth-round pick for Kyle Allen. That move showed some promise until Allen suffered a dislocated ankle in Week 8 and was lost for the season. 

In 2019, Washington drafted Dwayne Haskins with the 15th-overall pick. But shockingly yet deservedly, Washington cut Haskins earlier this week. 

In 2018, Washington traded a third-round pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller for Alex Smith and then handed the QB a fat contract extension. That trade looked like it was working out for the first half of the 2018 season, but then Smith suffered a compound fracture in his right leg. The injury was serious, cost Smith the entire 2019 season and nearly much, much more. 

It’s a remarkable story that Smith made it back to the NFL, playing at a good level for Washington in 2020 before a calf injury again sidelined him. 

And it’s also a remarkable story that through all the quarterback drama and injuries of the 2020 season, Washington is still fighting for a division title. 

Still, by releasing Haskins and the uncertainty with Smith’s long-term health in his right leg, it’s also become obvious Washington could need a new plan at quarterback in 2021. Ron Rivera’s defense is legit, and should improve even more next year with the addition of a stud linebacker. 

This team needs to bring in a QB that can help win games, right away, and while that could still be Smith, the lingering nature of the calf injury is worrisome. 

Looking ahead then, what QBs are available?

One player that has piqued fan interest is Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.

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Detroit’s starter since 2009, Stafford has a big arm and long history of 4,000-yard seasons and chunk plays. From 2011 to 2017, Stafford threw for at least 4,200 yards and his career interception percentage is three percent. 

Stafford is a good player, undoubtedly, but has dealt with injuries in each of his last two seasons. Scary injuries too, like broken bones in his back. 

The speculation with Stafford comes amid another disappointing season in Detroit. The head coach has been fired and with a $40 million salary cap cost for 2020, some wonder if Stafford could be on his way out. Detroit projects to hold a Top 10 draft pick and could maybe even draft his replacement, especially if a new GM comes in and wants to start completely over with an organizational rebuild. 

For Washington though, does Stafford make sense?

“It’s hard to say. Yeah, I like Matthew Stafford but what’s it gonna cost you? You’re not getting a young guy,” Washington QB legend Joe Theismann said Tuesday morning. 

Theismann, speaking via The Team 980, said that if Smith is healthy he could be Washington’s top option, but added the organization does need to look at all options.  

If Washington needed to trade for Stafford, it’s hard to imagine what that value would be. Stafford will turn 33 in February, only played eight games last year and is fighting through a myriad of injuries again this year. 

Stafford is certainly tough and willing to gut through the pain, but if Washington already has Smith, why trade for Stafford?

Theismann also asked if Washington really needs to add another high-profile QB to the mix, again.

“And once again, new quarterback, new system. Are we going to do this again?”

Like the stock market or buying a house, price would go a very long way in determining Washington’s interest in Stafford. As would the status of Smith, who is still under contract in Washington through the 2022 season. 

Combined, Smith and Stafford would count for more than $60 million on the salary cap. In 2021, the cap is expected to drop for the first time in a decade, a result of Covid expenditures, and there’s no way Washington could afford to devote that type of cash to two veteran passers. 

If Smith retires after the season, things could change. Washington could also release Smith and recoup some cap savings, although that has seemed unlikely in the past. 

Much of Washington’s 2021 draft plan will depend on what happens against Philadelphia on Sunday night. If Rivera’s team wins, as division winners Washington will pick no higher than 18th. Should Washington lose, and depending what happens with a few other teams, Washington could even creep inside the Top 10. 

That draft position will determine what rookie quarterbacks could be available. 

At this point there is just too much unknown to make a real guess at the quarterback options available in 2021. 

In one week or one month, eventually, Ron Rivera will need to focus on the QB plan, for 2021 and beyond.

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