Here's what you should know about the chatter linking Marcus Mariota and the Washington Redskins: There's something to it. You can't win without a quarterback in a quarterback league, and some Redskins officials will tell you the franchise doesn't have one.
Although misinformation is as much a part of the draft as scouting evaluations and medical reports, the truth is that Mariota potentially could fill a major area of need for the Redskins, who have many. People I trust say new Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan is great at his job. By exploring a possible fit with Mariota, McCloughan would merely be doing his due diligence.
Tasked with rebuilding a team that has finished last in the NFC East in six of the past seven seasons and eight of the past 11, McCloughan can't afford to overlook any option that may accelerate a turnaround. Factor in that Washington went 7-25 over the past two seasons while mismanaging its roster, and it's clear everything must be on the table during the upcoming draft, in which the team currently holds the fifth pick.
There's also no debating that the Heisman Trophy winner from Oregon has an intriguing skill set. He's an exciting dual-threat passer who could be a big hit with Washington's long-suffering fans. And let's not forget who owns the Redskins.
Dan Snyder has an affinity for athletic, high-profile quarterbacks. They stir buzz among fans, which is great for selling merchandise and tickets. Business factors play an inordinate role in football decisions at Redskins Park. Anyone who would argue otherwise hasn't been paying attention the past 16 years.
McCloughan truly is in charge of the football operation. I'm not questioning that. But Redskins history tells us anything can happen when potential franchise quarterbacks are available.
At first glance, Mariota doesn't appear to be an ideal fit for Washington's version of the West Coast offense. Having played in a spread scheme in college, he'd probably need some time to become comfortable in a classic pro system. Mariota, though, has several things going for him. The biggest of which is that he's not Robert Griffin III.
Last season, head coach Jay Gruden all but held up a sign that read, "Get me another quarterback." Gruden's blistering critiques of Griffin prompted observers to wonder whether the team's then-rookie boss was trying to get himself fired. Most people in Gruden's line of work simply don't eviscerate the most important employee in the workplace.
Management rapped Gruden across his knuckles for blasting Griffin. With Griffin under contract for the 2015 season, Gruden has put on a happy face about the prospect of Griffin remaining atop the depth chart. But no amount of pressure from the front office will change the fact that Gruden has about as much confidence in Griffin as he did in the Redskins' awful defense last season.
Here's what Redskins fans should ask themselves: Do you really want Gruden and Griffin to continue working together? The main business of a football team, presumably, is to win football games. The Gruden-Griffin partnership is bad for business. The awful pairing crippled the organization much of last season. The next act figures to be even worse.
Conventional wisdom says it would be downright crazy for the Redskins to use a high draft pick on a quarterback who's not considered a ready-to-play franchise savior (not everyone can be Andrew Luck) only three years after giving up four high-round picks for the chance to select Griffin. But those picks are gone.
There's nothing the Redskins can do to recoup them. At some point, the team has to move on. Maybe it has reached that point.
Another possible scenario is that the Redskins have leaked this information in an effort to spur trade talks with teams hoping to draft Mariota. Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly has said he would not pay a steep price to move up in the draft to get Mariota, whom he coached in college. We'll see.
Back in 2012, the Redskins supposedly weren't willing to pay a king's ransom to draft Griffin. We all know how that turned out.
The point is, when the clock starts ticking and potential difference-making quarterbacks are on the board, teams roll the dice. It's just the way this works.
In McCloughan's hands, extra picks would be valuable. Having a quarterback to build around also would be good for a proven team builder. Either way, Mariota should be on McCloughan's mind a lot these days.
The only absurd part of the whole Mariota-to-the-Redskins discussion is that the team might be using it as a ruse to light a fire under Griffin, who hasn't spent as much time honing certain parts of his craft as some of his coaches would like. The notion that Griffin will be scared into grinding as hard in the film room as he does the weight room doesn't make sense.
Gruden essentially told the entire NFL that Griffin can't read defenses, lacks leadership skills and has so much to learn in the pocket that he may be nothing more than a long-term project. Gruden was eager to hand the job to Kirk Cousins, who squandered his big chance, and he later benched Griffin for journeyman Colt McCoy.
One of Griffin's teammates ripped him anonymously to TMZ Sports, and Hall of Fame receiver Tim Brown, among others, said Griffin must work on his locker room presence. By now, if Griffin doesn't understand he must make sweeping changes, the threat of drafting his replacement probably won't provide a wake-up call, either.
Does that mean the Redskins definitely will draft Mariota if he's available when they pick? Of course not. This far out from the draft, a lot could happen.
Ultimately, the Redskins may decide Mariota is not the answer. But they owe it to themselves to ask the question.