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Washington Redskins: 8 Best Quarterback Options for 2012

Manny GeraldoCorrespondent IFebruary 1, 2012

Washington Redskins: 8 Best Quarterback Options for 2012

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    After a 5-11 season that included a mid-season fiasco of six straight losses and losing four of the final five games of the season, the Redskins are faced with many questions and few answers. The question that looms above all else is squarely pegged at the quarterback position. Who will lead this team next year?

    The Redskins featured the 14th-ranked passing offense last season, which seems extremely high considering the egregious amount of turnovers and the ineptitude that came from under center during 2011.

    Rex Grossman and John Beck combined for 24 interceptions. Only two teams, the Eagles and Bills, threw more interceptions than the Redskins last season. The overall consensus here in DC is that the Redskins need a new quarterback. Very few (Rex Grossman, John Beck, maybe) would disagree.

    Grossman was the 28th-ranked passer last season and will be 32 when the season begins. He is also a free agent. The Redskins will likely re-sign him, but only as a backup. If he is named the starter again, expect an uprising of mutiny at FedEx Field. Grossman threw 16 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in 13 games. And let's not forget the calamity in Philly where he threw four interceptions.

    Beck will be 31 when the season begins. In his three starts last season, he threw two touchdowns to four interceptions and was sacked an incredible 15 times. Mildly put, these numbers are gross.

    The Redskins have to find a franchise quarterback. And if they cannot find a franchise quarterback this season, then they must find a stop-gap quarterback for the next season or two that can at least keep the team competitive and vying for a playoff spot.

    Only Shanahan and Co. know their master plan for the quarterback position next season, but presented are eight quarterback options better than the two the Redskins currently have.

Robert Griffin, III

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    Kyle Shanahan has been vocal in that the Redskins are in need of a franchise quarterback. It makes logical sense to draft just that—a franchise quarterback. Much to delight of Redskins fans (including myself), there has been buzz around the beltway that Washington will make the required moves to draft Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, or RG3 as he's fondly known. 

    RG3, the winner of the 2011 Heisman and every other conceivable postseason award given to a quarterback, is expected to be the second player drafted after Andrew Luck in the upcoming draft. In 2011, RG3 finished the season with school records of 4,293 yards, 37 passing touchdowns and a passer efficiency rating of 189.5 (second-best in NCAA FBS history). 

    RG3 finished his collegiate career as one of three players in FBS history to top 10,000 career passing yards (school-record 10,366) and 2,000 career rushing yards (2,254). RG3 is a tremendous athlete with great speed and arm strength. He is an accurate thrower in the pocket, and just as deadly on the run. He is a dual-threat athlete with smarts, work ethic and leadership. 

    If the Redskins are serious about finding a franchise quarterback, then drafting RG3 is the logical decision. A young quarterback that the team can hang its hat on for the future is what the Redskins have lacked since Joe Theismann.

    Since the early '90s, the Redskins have featured a carousel of quarterbacks, none starters for more than three to four seasons. The Redskins have not had a Brady, Manning, Roethlisberger, Brees or Favre. The Redskins tried with Jason Campbell, but inconsistent coaching and management blundering prematurely ended his stay in DC.

    Redskins fans have not had the privilege of cheering a franchise quarterback during the last 20 years and the lack of wins shows for it. As Cam Newton has done for the Carolina Panthers, a face of the franchise is needed to galvanize the fans, restore hope to a losing institution and attract free agents. RG3 would be the face of the franchise that the Redskins sorely need and have needed for years.

Brandon Weeden

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    The biggest knock against Brandon Weeden is his age. He will be 29 in October, not the average age of a rookie. He will not be a team's long-term future, as his first NFL contract will also likely be his last NFL contract.

    Despite his age, Weeden is still considered the first or second best quarterback after Luck and RGIII. Last season, Weeden ranked second in the country with 4,727 passing yards and fourth with 37 touchdowns. In the Fiesta Bowl win over Stanford and Andrew Luck, Weeden passed for 399 yards and three touchdowns, besting Luck in yardage and touchdowns as well as securing the win.

    Weeden impressed scouts and coaches during last week's Senior Bowl practices, and both Kyle and Mike Shanahan have downplayed Weeden's age as a deterrent. Weeden possesses good arm strength and accuracy, and maturity.

    He's either a second- or third-round draft pick, and would give the Redskins a rookie a shy younger than Grossman and Beck. However, he hasn't played much football in the past four years and thus his body is healthier than most players his age. 

    If the Redskins draft Weeden, they know that his window is likely between four and six years. However, if he can push them into the playoffs during those years and make them competitive as soon as next year, it's worth a second- or third-round draft choice.

    Good quarterbacks are hard to find and to quote Aaliyah, maybe "age ain't nothin' a number." This past season featured a number of seasoned quarterbacks: 41-year-old Mark Brunell backed up Mark Sanchez; 39-year-old Kerry Collins started three games for the Colts; and 39-year-old Jon Kitna played in three games for the Cowboys.

    Weeden has the tools to be a starting NFL quarterback, and is a more encouraging prospect than either Grossman or Beck.

Ryan Tannehill

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    In 2011, Tannehill threw for 3,744 yards with 29 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He more than doubled his yardage and touchdown production from the 2010 season. The former wide receiver is considered one of the best quarterback options in the draft after Andrew Luck and RGIII. He runs a 4.65 and can throw well on the run.   

    Tannehill is predicted to be a second-round selection. Tannehill was unable to play in the Senior Bowl because he broke his foot in early January. The injury should not affect his ability to participate in training camp, but it has dropped his stock a little which may keep him firmly placed in the second round.

    If the Redskins don't use their first-round selection on a quarterback, Tannehill would be a great option in the second round. Tannehill is a great athlete that still needs time to develop after only 20 collegiate starts, but he has a high ceiling and the potential to be a starting quarterback.

Matt Flynn

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    In a weak free agent quarterback class, Matt Flynn will be the NFL's most sought-after free agent. Flynn has played sparingly the last four seasons behind Aaron Rodgers, arguably the league's best quarterback in that span.

    However, Flynn has showed enough glimpses of potential that he will demand and receive a hefty, long-term contract. While it's not deserved, there is such a dearth of good quarterbacks available in a quarterback-friendly league that teams will be willing to roll the dice.

    Flynn will be 27 at season's start and has only a few more starts than a rookie. However, his performance against an angry Detroit defense in the season finale displayed his ability to be a NFL starter. Flynn annihilated the Lions' defense to the tune of 480 yards, six touchdowns and only one interception.

    That game was Flynn's audition to NFL teams seeking a new quarterback—and he nailed it. Of all the great quarterbacks to play at Lambeau Field, Flynn holds the record for single game passing yards and touchdowns after that performance. 

    Like the classic Eric B. & Rakim song, Flynn wants to get paid in full. There are a number of teams desperate for a quarterback (the Redskins included), and Flynn's agent will be able to use that leverage to broker a lucrative long-term deal for his client.

    Flynn will likely command a contract similar to Ryan Fitzpatrick's contract extension with the Bills which was valued at $59 million over six years. If the Redskins were to sign Flynn to a similar contract, they would be placing their faith in him to be the franchise quarterback.

    That is a lot of faith and money to invest and trust in an unproven player, but Flynn presents the Redskins with a player younger than both Grossman and Beck, and with much more potential to lead them into the future as well.  

Kyle Orton

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    Kyle Orton would certainly not be the franchise's future, but he could serve as a temporary fix at the quarterback position.The seven-year veteran has unfairly been bestowed a bad rep, despite positing above average numbers as a full-time starter in both Chicago and Denver. In his fourth season with Chicago, Orton threw for nearly 3,000 yards and 18 touchdowns.

    After being traded to Denver prior to the 2009 season, Orton passed for nearly 4,000 yards, throwing for 21 touchdowns to 12 interceptions. The Broncos missed the playoffs and the blame game, either unfairly or fairly, fell upon Orton's shoulders.

    In 2010, Orton's numbers were similar (3,653 yards, 20 TDs, nine INTs), but he missed the final three games due to injury. Tim Tebow replaced Orton for those final threw games and thus began "Tebowmania." The writing was on the wall. Orton's time in Denver was limited. "Dead quarterback walking," they murmured. 

    Orton is not a star, but he is a significant upgrade over both Grossman and Beck. Orton is a resilient gun-slinger who plays consistent and has the ability to win games. If the Redskins don't draft a quarterback early in the draft or do draft a quarterback late in the draft who is in need of development, Orton is a good option for the next two to three years.

    He would give the Redskins a chance to compete in the NFC East, and reaching the playoffs would certainly be tangible. 

Peyton Manning

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    There have been rumors, much to my chagrin, that the Redskins have interest in obtaining Peyton Manning. I have the utmost respect for Manning. He is one of the best quarterbacks of any generation or era, and I have been a fan of his for years.

    However, acquiring a 35-year-old rehabbing from his third neck injury reeks of the Dan Snyder and Vinny Cerrato era. An era that most Redskins fans NEVER want to live through again. Signing a Hall of Fame-bound quarterback before he rides off into the sunset is eerily familiar to the botched plan of only two seasons ago when the Redskins traded for Donovan McNabb.

    We weren't getting McNabb of the early 2000s, but rather the second version of that player with little gas left in the tank. Manning, if healthy, likely has two to three years left in him. The Redskins need to find their quarterback of the future, not a star of the past.

    It is not written in ink that the Colts will release Manning, but it's likely. With the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft, the Colts are set on rebuilding their team and saving the $28 million bonus that Mr. 18 is due.

    Kyle Shanahan has publicly said that Peyton's age is not an issue, but rather his health. Maybe Kyle is right. If Peyton is healthy, he is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. That could mean that with a few key additions, the Redskins could be competitive for the next two to three years. 

    If Peyton signs with the Redskins, then the team would also be in position to land two of his former teammates in wide receiver Reggie Wayne and center Jeff Saturday. The Redskins would have addressed their quarterback, wide receiver and center positions and still have all of their draft picks.

    With the offense significantly better and a top-five NFC defense, the Redskins could contend for both the NFC East title and the NFC title. The Redskins would certainly devote much of their salary cap to acquiring Manning and Co., but it would only be for a few short years and they would not have leveraged their future by trading away draft picks.

Matt Moore

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    With the public support of Brandon Marshall and the acknowledgment by Aaron Rodgers that Miami is a likely destination, it appears as though the a new Matt will be at the helm of the Dolphin's future—Matt Flynn. The Dolphins are considered to have the best chance at landing free agent Flynn since the Packers former offensive coordinator Joe Philbin was hired as the Dolphins head coach.

    If the Dolphins do sign Flynn, then Matt Moore would likely seek a trade or asked to be released. Moore signed a two-year contract with the Dolphins, and if they sign Flynn, a contract extension with Miami is unlikely.

    It would be more beneficial for Moore to be traded to a team or, if released, to sign with a team where he can start in hopes of garnering a long-term contract after the 2012 season. Moore's chance at signing a long-term contract is significantly lower if he spends the 2012 season holding a clipboard. 

    In his first season with the Dolphins, Moore took over as starter in the fourth game of the season and led the Dolphins to a 6-7 record. In 13 games, Moore passed for 2,497 yards, 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He ended the regular season as the NFL's 12th-ranked passer. Moore is not a gun-slinger (no 300-yard passing games in 2011), but he is efficient and can get the ball down field with ease. 

    Moore is a starter and has the capability to win ball games in the NFL. He'll be 28 when the season begins, but has played so few games in his five seasons that he's a fresh veteran. Even if Moore would be a stop-gap at the quarterback situation until the Redskins find their franchise quarterback, he is better than both Grossman and Beck.

    Ideally, the Dolphins cut Moore and the 'Skins sign him to a comparable two-year deal. If the 'Phins seek a trade, it shouldn't cost the 'Skins more than a late-round draft pick and/or cash.

Jimmy Clausen

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    He was named the NFL Rookie of the Year, made the Pro Bowl as a rookie and set rookie records for passing yards (4,051) and rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (14). His name is Cam Newton, not Jimmy Clausen.

    When the Carolina Panthers drafted Newton with the first pick in the 2011 draft, the Jimmy Clausen era ended as quickly as it began. The Panthers' 2010 second round draft pick with too much American Crew in his hair and the SoCal hubris was no match for the pearly whites and Southern disposition of Newton. Newton became the face of the franchise, wrangling its gift and curse from Steve Smith in only one season.

    In the 2011 preseason, Clausen was demoted to third-string quarterback behind veteran Derek Anderson and didn't play at all in the regular season. His future in Charlotte is as bleak as a Lars Von Trier film. In the 13 games, including 10 starts, that Clausen did play in during the 2010 season, he struggled. But so did the team.

    The Panthers were abysmal all around. Hence, the No. 1 pick they earned in the 2011 draft. However, the upside is that Clausen will only be 25 in September, is healthy after not playing during the 2011 season, and only has two years left on a four-year contract that would not count significantly against the Redskins salary cap.

    While Clausen is still under contract, the Panthers may be inclined to cut Clausen loose and draft a rookie in the later rounds that will be both cheaper and free of the baggage. If the Panthers are seeking compensation for their former second-round pick, the Redskins would not have to offer much in the way of a trade.

    The Redskins traded Donovan McNabb to the Vikings for a sixth-round draft pick, and I believe a similar deal could be made for Clausen. It's a win-win for both the Redskins and the Panthers, but the Redskins have the most to gain. At worst, Clausen is a filler for next season and the Redskins draft a QB in the 2013 draft and at best, he fulfills the potential of a player once considered a top-10 pick. 

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