The Washington Redskins gave up 21 points or fewer, 10 times last year. In fact, they gave up more than 24 points just once last year. Add Albert Haynesworth to the lineup and it could well be a rare Sunday that a Washington opponent gets past the upper teens in scoring.
Do the math.
The Redskins need to get Jay Cutler.
Not at any price. Their 2009 and 2010 first-round picks are too much. But if Denver wants their 2010 No. 1, Jason Campbell, and maybe second-day selection this year?
Boom, just do it.
How about if Denver asks for this year's first and Campbell? I try to get back a second or third this year or next, but if that's what it takes, I would do it.
I like Campbell a lot. I've even been categorized as a Jason Campbell apologist. He still has a ways to go, but in the absence of a viable alternative—and I do not believe that Colt Brennan is anywhere near viable at this point in time—I'd rather give him one year too many to prove himself rather than one year too few.
Cutler isn't just a viable alternative; he is a major upgrade. Both have been their teams' starting quarterback for part of 2006 and all of 2007 and 2008. Campbell has attempted about 100 more passes.
Cutler has just over 9,000 yards (7.4 per attempt), Campbell about 7,200 (6.4). When it comes to getting it into the end zone, Cutler has done it 54 times, Campbell 34. Campbell is markedly better at holding on to the ball, throwing 23 interceptions to Cutler's 37.
I think that most teams would give up a dozen or so interceptions in return for an additional 20 TD's and an extra full yard per attempt.
This would not be a quick fix, an attempt to squeeze another year or two out of an aging veteran. Cutler will be 26 later this month, making him a year and a half younger than Campbell. The Redskins would be set at quarterback until at least 2020.
The cap-strapped Redskins certainly can afford Cutler. He's signed through 2011 at reasonable base salaries and the Broncos would have to eat all of the guaranteed money left on the deal.
If he's successful in the next year or two he'll want a new deal before that, but the cap may not be an issue by then. Even if it is, the Redskins will find a way to get it done.
What of Cutler's attitude? Do you really want to deal for a quarterback who pouted his way out of Denver, one of the NFL's model franchises?
You certainly have to conduct due diligence here. Vinny Cerrato needs to call Mike Shanahan and have a long talk about Cutler's character, work ethic, and leadership ability. They need to talk to former coaches and teammates on the same subject.
There were indications that Jeff George would be Jeff George, before he was Jeff George. Cerrato and company need to do a thorough search for such red flags.
Should these conversations indicate that Cutler is a reasonable risk, the Redskins need to jump into the bidding. The Redskins have an advantage over some other suitors in that they are in the NFC. That gives the Redskins an advantage over a team like the Jets.
The Broncos would much rather deal him out of the AFC. If two offers are roughly equal in terms of players and picks, Denver clearly is likely to go with the bid from the other conference.
Another advantage the Redskins have is that they have been talking to the Broncos for about a month about a possible deal. Oh, you actually believed the denials issued by Jim Zorn and Cerrato? What do you expect them to say? They have to work with Jason Campbell if it doesn't go through. They don't want to be in the same position as the Broncos are now, with a disgruntled quarterback on their hands.
One ESPN.com blogger puts the odds of the Redskins landing Cutler at 10-1. I think that's a bit low. Someone I trust put the odds at about 50-50 and that was before this announcement that Cutler is available.
The bottom line is that if the Redskins want to make something happen, they have a history of being able to do so. And it says here that chances are that the Redskins want to make this happen.