Over the next few weeks, Rich Tandler will take a position-by-position look at the Redskins’ 2017 depth chart as the team enjoys some R&R ahead of training camp. Some positions are easy to handicap. Others have moving parts and, thus, are more complex. So, who’s in? And who’s in trouble?
On the roster: Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy, Nate Sudfeld
The numbers: Have three, will keep three
Locks: Cousins, McCoy, Sudfeld
Right now, there isn’t a whole lot of intrigue here in terms of who makes the team or who the starter will be. There isn’t even a fourth camp arm to stir up the fan base late in preseason games. But there could be some movement as the season goes on.
Cousins is the starter. He has taken 2,908 snaps since coming into the league and he hasn’t missed a single one due to injury. It only takes one play for that to change, of course, but Cousins’ durability is one of his major strengths.
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If the Redskins play like they have in the two years that Cousins has been the starter, with the team either making the playoffs or remaining in the picture deep into December, the order of things is unlikely to change. McCoy will be second on the depth chart. The Redskins will want the veteran, who has 25 NFL starts under his belt, to be available to go into a game if anything should happen to Cousins.
But let’s suppose things go south for the Redskins and the team is out of contention by the time Thanksgiving rolls around. Let’s also add to that the possible (probable?) scenario that the Redskins and Cousins are unable to come to an agreement on a long-term contract by July 17. Would the Redskins want to see what they had in Sudfeld? Might they move him up to the No. 2 quarterback and let him prepare as though he is one play away from being the starter? Would they perhaps even start Sudfeld in the season finale if Redskins have been eliminated from the playoffs?
How might McCoy react to being demoted to third string? He is under contract through 2018 and he certainly has his sights on the starting job if Cousins isn’t there. Like any quarterback who has waited for his chance, he would like to get any snaps that Cousins, for whatever reason, does not.
If Cousins is not signed, the Redskins need to see what they have in Sudfeld. A few preseason games against players who are going to be cut with the opposing coaches doing little game planning isn’t going to accomplish that goal. You can’t replace regular season snaps when it comes to evaluating a quarterback. And the Redskins will need those data points if they need to decide about Cousins in March.
The bottom line: The QB depth chart is a no-drama area for the time being. If Cousins does sign a long-term deal by July 17 that will continue. But if Cousins is playing on the franchise tag, things could change.