Free agency is still a month away, but one thing is becoming clear: QB-needy teams aren’t enthused about the available quarterbacks.
First, St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator said that Sam Bradford was the projected starter for next season. Then the Texans endorsed possible free agent Ryan Mallett for their starting job. Now Washington has followed suit with Robert Griffin III.
Sense a trend here?
Three quarterbacks that seemed to be on the outs during the regular season have suddenly been penciled in as starters for 2015. Conventional logic says that these teams realize the risk of bringing in a big-money signing or high-round draft pick is equal to or larger than the risk of just working with what they have.
Both St. Louis and Washington have invested pretty heavily in their first-round picks, but injuries and front office missteps have prevented them from succeeding. Even when Bradford was healthy, he was surrounded by a cast of average running backs and receivers. Danny Amendola is probably the best he’s had to work with so far.
Washington’s struggles have been pretty well-documented, so no need to revisit them.
The free agency pickings are more than slim: a bunch of former first-rounders (Mark Sanchez, Christian Ponder, Blaine Gabbert, Colt McCoy), overly-seasoned veterans (Matt Hasselbeck, Michael Vick, Jason Campbell), and desperation signings (Brian Hoyer, Jimmy Clausen).
The draft order doesn’t help matters either: Washington picks fifth, St. Louis is at 10, and Houston has the 16th selection. The chances of Jameis Winston and/or Marcus Mariota dropping — especially to the Texans — seem low at the moment.
Too often teams jump ship on quarterbacks when a new prospect or free agent comes around. While having a great quarterback can do wonders for a team, an average one can get the job done too if you give him them the necessary time and help. The definition of “time” and “help” vary, of course, but giving your first-round pick that you’ve already invested heavily in the length of their rookie contract to show what they can do seems like a pretty sensible choice. If he catches fire in his rookie season, but fails to match that level in the next two years, perhaps the team deserves some of the blame — looks at Washington. Giving him a few reliable targets or an offensive line may help, too — turns to St. Louis.
Put another way: if the backups can’t get it done either and fall victim to the same ills that plagued the starter, maybe the problem isn’t the guy under center.