In less than a year, the Redskins completed a stunning turnaround, ascending from a laughingstock in 2014 to a division champion in 2015. But now comes the difficult part: taking that all-important next step and improving from a franchise that was fortunate to get into the playoffs to one that can do some damage once it gets there. And that work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players.
In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will examine the 25 biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.
Should the Redskins draft a quarterback?
El-Bashir: Even though the Redskins just found their quarterback of the present—Kirk Cousins—it’s not too early to start thinking a few years down the road.
Remember when Mike Shanahan and Co. drafted Cousins 100 spots behind Robert Griffin III in 2012? The decision didn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense at the time, but it sure paid off in 2015. Indeed, it’s a good idea to have talent in the pipeline, particularly at the game’s most important position.
As the Redskins’ roster stands right now, they’ve got a starter that needs a new contract (Cousins), a 29-year-old backup (Colt McCoy) who needs a new contract, too, and a former first round pick (Griffin) that’s widely expected to be released next month.
The safe bet is Cousins returning as the No. 1 on a long-term contract, McCoy coming back as the No. 2 on another one-year deal and Griffin, who was inactive for all but one game last season, signing elsewhere. In that scenario, the Redskins would be in an envious spot with a reliable and improving starter in Cousins, a competent and experienced backup in McCoy and a spot available for a mid-to-late-round pick who can be groomed to potentially replace McCoy in 2017.
That, to me, would be the ideal situation. But I’d also like to be clear about this: I don’t consider drafting a developmental quarterback to be a priority, not this year, anyway. If the best player on the Redskins’ draft board from the fourth round on is a quarterback and GM Scot McCloughan sees value/potential, then go ahead. Otherwise, it can wait.
Tandler: I’m pretty much in agreement with Tarik right up to the final paragraph. Although I’m not 100 percent sure that McCoy won’t want to head elsewhere to try to get a shot at a starting quarterback job, either he or another player like him will fill the No. 2 job. And Griffin will be gone.
But I do place a greater urgency on finding a young quarterback to develop than does Mr. El-Bashir. I don’t think it would be a good idea to wait a year to start the development process. Let’s say Scot McCloughan bypasses a late-round signal caller who is on the board. That means that the Redskins go into 2016 with Kirk Cousins, McCoy, and, well, nobody. Sure, they would sign someone off of the street as an extra arm, either an older retread like McCoy or a younger player, perhaps an undrafted free agent.
But they will need to coach up the third arm, have him ready to participate in practice, ready to play in the preseason and, most important, ready to come into a game or come into a game.
If you’re going to go to all of that effort and invest all of that time, shouldn’t it be on someone you plan to keep around for a long while? Someone in whom you invested a draft pick?
The bottom line is this—you have to draft your developmental quarterback a year before you think that McCoy is going to leave. He needs at least a year of, well, development under his belt before you can confidently put him into a game. Getting him this year would be solid succession planning for next year and beyond.
To be sure, McCloughan doesn’t need to reach for a quarterback. But if the right guy is there in the right round he shouldn’t hesitate to grab him.
25 Questions series
- Wednesday: Is McCoy the answer at backup QB for the Redskins?
- Thursday: Should the Redskins try to keep Alfred Morris?
- Friday: Should the Redskins cut Andre Roberts?
- Saturday: Will there be a surprise cap casualty?
- Sunday: Will DeAngelo Hall return?
- Next: Are the Redskins set at outside linebacker?