In addition to being a place where NFL coaches and GMs take occasional breaks from eating at steakhouses in order to sit around and watch a bunch of guys sprint, the NFL scouting combine offers those same coaches and GMs their first opportunity of the offseason to project confidence about the upcoming season. It’s a time for hope, with the next generation of NFL stars gathered in one place and the pain of last season’s failures receding into the past. But while hope might be the watchword for most teams, not so much for the Washington Commanders, whose presence at this year’s combine has been defined by desperation.
Both head coach Ron Rivera and GM Martin Mayhew spoke to reporters at the combine this week, and each man wanted to talk about one thing and one thing only: just how badly their football team needs a new quarterback. No, seriously, they need a new quarterback. Can anyone, please, for the love of God, find them a new quarterback?? This is serious!
“We’re looking to upgrade that position and we’re looking at every angle that’s possible,” Mayhew said to reporters. “We’re looking at trade possibilities, draft possibilities, free agents. We’re looking at everybody.” He went on to say that the team had compiled a list of 40 potential quarterbacks, both in the pros and in college, who could be brought in before the start of next season. Forty quarterbacks?? I pity the lowly front-office staffer who is currently eating double helpings of Mike Glennon tape and trying to figure out something to write in his scouting report other than, “Uhhh, I dunno, he has a pretty long neck?”
Rivera also couldn’t stop talking about quarterbacks, and if you read between the lines a bit, you can sense that perhaps he and Mayhew are at odds about how exactly to go about finding a new ball-thrower. Mayhew was sure to point out that the team needs to “make the best decision for the long-term future,” whereas Rivera’s comments can most neatly be summed up as, Why can’t we just do what the Rams did? From NBC Sports:
“There’s an old saying: ‘What are you willing to pay for that Major League Baseball card?'” Rivera responded when asked how much he’d be comfortable shipping away in a trade for a veteran. “Whatever you pay, that’s what you think the value is.”
“Does anybody really care what was traded for Matthew Stafford last year?” he added before answering that obvious question with the obvious takeaway. “Nope.”NBC Sports
Rivera is more or less publicly campaigning for his GM to make a big trade for a veteran quarterback, but it’s unclear who exactly he thinks the team should be targeting. Aaron Rodgers? Sure, why not! Russell Wilson? Yeah man, go for it! Uhhh … Kirk Cousins? Hmmmm, maybe pump the brakes on that one.
Even if Rivera and Mayhew have different ideas on how exactly to go about acquiring a new quarterback, that difference might not matter too much in the end. Because no matter which direction the Commanders ultimately decide to look in, they aren’t going to find a plethora of options. The success the Rams found after trading for Stafford is only going to raise the asking price from any team with a veteran QB to trade—the Commanders talking so openly about how desperate they are for one doesn’t really improve their leverage, either—and the free-agent market is pretty barren. That leaves the draft, which is notably light on quarterback prospects. ESPN’s Mel Kiper currently projects the Commanders to select Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett, who has already been slapped with the dreaded “small hands” label, at No. 11.
Pity, if you want, the ‘Ders and their desperate search for a guy who can competently throw a football, but also hold some room in your heart for Taylor Heinicke, who came off the bench and became something of a playoff hero two seasons ago, started 16 games last season, and is now at home listening to his coach and GM tell everyone within earshot that they simply cannot wait to plant him back on the bench. Here’s hoping the Commanders at least spare him the fate of having to back up Mitchell Trubisky.