Now that the Redskins have Alex Smith in the house, the talk has turned to who’s next at the quarterback position.
Smith will turn 34 in May. That’s middle age for a quarterback these days. The Redskins have him under contract for the next five seasons, which would take him through his age 38 season. While he could still be effective at that age, the Redskins should be prepared for the possibility that he won’t be.
There still is talk out there of the Redskins using a top draft pick on a quarterback this year. While you should never say never, it seems very unlikely that they will make such a move. The reason is the collective bargaining agreement.
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Let’s take a hypothetical situation where the Redskins take Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph in the second round. They could groom the lifelong Redskins fan and have him take over for Smith when the time is right.
But here’s the problem with that. While we haven’t seen the details of Smith’s contract yet, it’s a pretty good bet that he and the Redskins will be tied together for at least three seasons. They are taking on the last year of his existing deal, and while we don’t have the details of his four-year extension, it is likely that it ties him to the team for at least two years.
So, you have Rudolph sitting and learning for three years and that’s great, right? I mean, that’s what Aaron Rodgers did in Green Bay. It worked out pretty well for him, didn’t it?
Well, the realities of the collective bargaining agreement would make it difficult to repeat the Rodgers apprenticeship. Rodgers’ rookie contract covered five years. A deal for draft picks these days must be four years, no more, no less. I think you can see where I’m heading here. If Rudolph, or whoever the QB draft this year is, starts in 2021 and shows a lot of promise, the Redskins would be right where they were with Kirk Cousins two years ago. They wouldn’t have much of a sample size to work with, but they would have to make a decision about what to do with the quarterback they drafted. Another round of franchise tags could well ensue.
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There is a fifth-year team option on first-round picks so in regard to the timing of the contract, a first-round pick this year would work better. But a team that went 1-5 in the division and has to compete against the Super Bowl champions and a Cowboys team they haven’t beaten in a meaningful game since 2014 really can’t afford to spend the No. 13 pick on an asset that is unlikely to contribute for three years.
If the Redskins are going to take a quarterback during the draft, they are most likely to take one on Saturday, sometime in rounds 4-7. They could groom him to be Smith’s backup when Colt McCoy is gone. If he defies the odds like Kirk Cousins did and becomes a viable starter after Smith, the Redskins will have to deal with the contract situation. Hopefully, they will learn something from their mistakes in the Cousins saga and handle it differently if and when it arises.