On November 18, 2018, Alex Smith suffered a gruesome injury. His broken leg and suffering from complications during his surgeries, it was reported that Smith might not play in the upcoming season and that Jay Gruden and the Redskins are preparing for a season without him.
There are a lot of X-factors that come into play when considering the Redskins options. The first is assuming Alex Smith recovers and can play football in any capacity, it would not be until 2020. Joe Theismann suffered the exact same injury, ironically enough on the same day, effectively ending his NFL quarterback career.
Medical science has changed a lot since those days, but with the complications and rumblings, one must question future productivity. The next factor to consider is the hellish cap situation. Despite Smith’s injury, his salary still counts heavily against the cap. Even if he retires in the truest sense of the world, the Redskins would still have a wagon of money to pay.
The last two factors to consider are simple and easy. Jay Gruden will be entering his sixth year as head coach (the first of his two-year extension. Since being hired for the 2014 season, his record over the last five years is 35-44-1 (4-12, 9-7, 8-7-1, and back-to-back 7-9 seasons). It is important to note that in both 7-9 seasons, Gruden’s team was riddled with injuries. Despite that fact, many believe it is “playoffs or bust” year for the head coach. With a broken team devoid of star power, the future for Gruden as head coach is bleak at best.
Now, the big question is what will the Redskins do at the quarterback position. As one can imagine, every option has pros and cons. The first option is obvious, draft and start a rookie quarterback. On the one hand, the Redskins would be getting a quarterback for the future. However, they would have to take the lumps and growing pains that come with it, which may result in more below average seasons. Also, Jay Gruden is not assured to return next season, so whatever quarterback (rookie or vet) may have to adjust to a new coach the following season.
The second and third option the Redskins have would require patience from the fans. The second option would be to trot along with Colt McCoy and perhaps re-sign Josh Johnson and limp along with those two. Most draft analysts believe that 2019 is an extremely weak QB class. Perhaps now would not be the time to draft a quarterback. Rather, build up the receiving corps and offensive line. Doing so would increase the chances for success when a rookie quarterback is drafted in the next year or two. If they could drag it out, they might even get a shot at Trevor Lawrence in 2021.
The third option, which is an unpopular opinion, is a free agent signing. Seeing as though the salary cap and guaranteed money are issues, the Redskins would not be able to trade for a talent like Eli Manning or Joe Flacco or have to ability to sign a Teddy Bridgewater take on Ryan Tannehill’s contract.
However, referring to the second option, sign a QB for one or two years to just get through. Tyrod Taylor, Geno Smith, even Robert Griffin III (again) would be able to do just that. They would be cost-effective and they could easily be moved on from short term, keeping Colt McCoy (who cannot stay healthy for more than three games) safe in his backup role.
Despite Bruce Allen’s “We are close” comments, the Redskins are far from close. The front office will never use this word, but it is appropriate now. It is time for a rebuild. A rebuild would require one or possibly two seasons of below five hundred play, but the juice would definitely be worth the squeeze.