With what's expected to be the craziest quarterback frenzy of an offseason already underway, who the starting QB will be for the Washington Football Team in 2021 and beyond remains the No. 1 topic of conversation surrounding the organization.
Head coach Ron Rivera said last week that the franchise is in "no hurry" to find its quarterback of the future. Rivera's new confidants, Martin Mayhew and Marty Hurney, both stressed not "mortgaging the future" to figure out its quarterback dilemma right now.
Rivera and his staff are downplaying the urgency to find a franchise QB, but their actions say otherwise. Washington was heavily involved in the Matthew Stafford sweepstakes and even inquired about Jared Goff.
The crown jewel of the offseason QB frenzy is Deshaun Watson, who reportedly has made it clear he wants out of Houston despite the team's lack of interest in trading him. If the Texans do begin to make Watson available, all signs point to Washington being interested.
On Tuesday, Seahawks star Russell Wilson confirmed reports that he's upset with how often he's been hit in Seattle. Asked on the Dan Patrick Show whether he believes he's been made available via trade, the 32-year-old said "I'm not sure if I'm available or not. That's a Seahawks question."
To be clear: Wilson has not asked out of Seattle. But, with an enormous offseason in front of the Seahawks, Wilson will certainly be keeping an eye on the team's outlook moving forward. If Wilson does eventually ask out, Washington is a team that has a lot of things Wilson could be looking for.
Both Watson and Wilson are great, great options for Washington to solve its quarterback problem. Each quarterback would probably require similar compensation: multiple first-round picks (likely three or more) and maybe a few players, too.
But, who is the better passer between Watson and Wilson for Washington to go for a home run swing and trade for?
The case for Deshaun Watson
The No. 1 area Watson has an advantage over Wilson in terms of being a more attractive option for Washington is his age. Watson is only 25 years old, while Wilson is 32. With Washington having a roster full of young talent and only a handful of veterans, the current Texans signal-caller has the edge in this aspect.
While Watson is only 25 years old, he's already entering the prime of his career -- one that could last as long as a decade, if not longer.
Despite losing an All-Pro wide receiver in DeAndre Hopkins and having his team's play-caller change mid-season, Watson put up the best numbers of his career in 2020. Watson's 4,893 passing yards were an NFL-best. The 25-year-old's 33 touchdown passes were by far a career-high, while his seven interceptions were the fewest of any campaign thus far in his career.
Watson is only going to get better, too. Washington has a considerably better offensive line than the QB had in Houston and arguably a better run game, too. If Washington were to trade for Watson, it'd likely be able to convince one of the top free agent wide receivers to join this offseason as well -- just look at all the stars that Tampa Bay got once Tom Brady signed there.
As far as contracts go, Watson has four more years remaining on his deal, while Wilson has three. Over the next three years, Wilson has a cap hit of $32 million, $37 million and $39 million, respectively. Watson's over those next three years are $21 million, $40 million and $42 million. The biggest difference between the two is Watson's extra year, one that Washington will gladly take.
Watson hasn't necessarily done much winning in January in Houston, but he's had a lot more success since entering the NFL than Washington has over that span. The Texans were one of the worst franchises in the NFL prior to his arrival. Since 2017, all Watson has done is lead them to the playoffs twice with two AFC South titles.
Watson has also already requested out, while Wilson has not. It's uncertain whether Wilson will even ask out at all. Houston is currently in a stalemate with Watson, but we'll see how long that lasts. At some point, something will have to give. As it stands now, Washington has a better chance of landing Watson than Wilson.
The case for Russell Wilson
For much of the last three decades, the Washington Football Team hasn't done much winning. The exact opposite is the case for Russell Wilson.
In his nine years as the Seahawks' starter, Seattle has made the playoffs eight times and never finished with fewer than nine wins in a season. In five of those campaigns, Seattle finished with 11 or more victories.
As far as postseason success is concerned, Wilson has an incredible edge over Watson. The Seahawks star has played in two Super Bowls in his career, winning one and a goal-line interception away from winning another.
So what that the Seahawks haven't made it back to the Big Game since the 2014-15 season? Wilson has true playoff experience and knows what it takes to win when it matters most. Winning championships are difficult. How has Watson fared in the playoffs? Just one win and two losses, never making it past the divisional round.
It would be unfair to attribute Wilson's postseason success without a little context, since he did play with one of the NFL's all-time great defenses to begin his career. Watson has not nearly played with a defense as good as the Legion of Boom. But, let's not discredit how big of a role Wilson played with those teams. During Seattle's back-to-back Super Bowl runs in 2013 and 2014, Wilson accounted for 63 total touchdowns over that span (including playoffs).
Skill-wise, while both Wilson and Watson are almost unanimously considered top five quarterbacks in the NFL currently, Wilson is the better quarterback now. The Seahawks star was on pace to win his first MVP award this past season before Seattle, for whatever reason, became infatuated with running the football. There's a reason the team parted with its offensive coordinator following the playoff exit to Los Angeles.
By trading for a quarterback of either Watson or Wilson's caliber, it sends a message to the team that you're trying to win now. So, in that case, why would Washington not want to trade for the signal-caller that's currently better in Wilson?
While Watson does have an age advantage over Wilson, quarterbacks are playing into their late 30s and early 40s now more than ever. Tom Brady just won a Super Bowl at 43 years old, throwing the ball like he was 23! Even at 32, Wilson remains a tremendous athlete and is one of the hardest quarterbacks to bring down in space. Wilson still has several years of good football in his future.
There is no wrong choice here.
Both passers would instantly be a major upgrade to Washington's quarterback room; the Burgundy and Gold have not had a signal-caller of either one of Watson or Wilson's caliber in three decades, if not longer.
However, having to choose one as part of this exercise, Wilson gets the slight edge over Watson. Wilson's a proven winner and although not by much, is currently the better quarterback. With plenty of years still ahead of both passers, the age difference doesn't matter as much as it might seem.
Remember this, though: we're talking about two top-five quarterbacks here. Neither one is a consolation prize, and both would instantly turn Washington into a Super Bowl contender.