The Washington Redskins were never going to pursue a trade for Joe Flacco. But they still might benefit from the deal involving him. The trickle-down impact will help the Redskins, in one way or another, in their pursuit of another quarterback.
It’s been stated, and must be said again, that Washington is not in the market for a high-priced quarterback -- and certainly not one they would have to acquire in a trade. The Redskins aren’t going to have Alex Smith’s $20.4 million salary-cap hit on the books and then add another quarterback in that price range. They’re not going to cut Smith, and with his future up in the air, they’re not going to tie themselves to another high-priced veteran.
But the fact that Denver did helps out the Redskins. Flacco is 34, expensive and signed through 2021, so Denver could still conceivably draft a quarterback at No. 10, groom him and move on from Flacco next year. But the Broncos no longer have to take one. It also likely puts Case Keenum on the market, too, as it’s hard to imagine Denver wanting that much cap space devoted to quarterback (unless he reworks his deal).
Of the teams picking ahead of Washington in the draft, there are now only three that are said to be in the market for a quarterback: the Giants (sixth pick), Jaguars (seventh pick) and Dolphins (13th). This assumes the Jaguars will cut Blake Bortles, the Giants want Eli Manning’s successor and the Dolphins will release Ryan Tannehill.
Other teams ahead of Washington could be tempted to draft a signal-caller: the Bengals (11th), with Andy Dalton under contract for two more years and easily cuttable after this one; or the Raiders (fourth), but only if they determine they are done with Derek Carr. But if they move on from Carr, which seems like a long shot, that means another team filled that spot with him. The same is true of Tannehill.
But the point is that one team has been eliminated from needing to find a starting quarterback. That doesn’t mean the Redskins will now draft one at No. 15, but it does mean they might be in better position to do so. When Kyler Murray entered the draft, it gave the Redskins -- and other teams -- more options. And not just from the draft.
The bigger point perhaps is that this also means the market to sign a midlevel quarterback has narrowed. If the Redskins can sign someone to a midlevel deal, they can spend their limited cap space on other positions, and then worry about a different position at 15. They will need an edge rusher if Preston Smith departs via free agency; this draft is rich with them. That’s not the only area they could address, but it is a notable one. They can then draft a quarterback in the later rounds -- and then, if needed, revisit a first-round guy in 2020 once they know more about Alex Smith.
If the Redskins want, say, Teddy Bridgewater -- a name on their list last offseason and a guy Washington coach Jay Gruden knows a lot about, stemming from his relationship with Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer -- then perhaps it’s now more doable. Bridgewater signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Jets last offseason; a number around there, plus incentives, is a starting point.
The key with Bridgewater will be how many other teams want him; there’s now one less possibility. Regardless, it’s not a huge market, and the Redskins can offer him something others might not be able to: a chance to start. They still have Colt McCoy, whom coaches and teammates like, but he still has to prove he can stay healthy and then produce for a long stretch. And the rookie quarterback could well be a mid- to late-round choice.
Jacksonville might be able to offer Bridgewater a similar situation, but the Jaguars might land Nick Foles or draft a quarterback at No. 5. Bridgewater would be right back in a similar spot he was last summer with the New York Jets and then-rookie Sam Darnold.
Without making a move, the Redskins might have found themselves in a more favorable spot.