Quarterback Situation in Washington Is Less Complicated Than It Might Appear

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistApril 4, 2013

July 30, 2012; Ashburn, VA, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (12) and Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) prepare to throw the ball during Redskins training camp at Redskins Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Redskins currently have four veteran quarterbacks on their roster. And by veteran, I mean guys that have actually played in the NFL before.

With Pat White joining the team this week and Rex Grossman returning on another one-year deal, the 'Skins now have two former first-round picks, a former second-round pick and a former fourth-round pick in the QB room.

That's not a bad problem to have, but you obviously can't keep all of them beyond the offseason. Some thoughts...


Kirk Cousins is safe

We got proof last year that Cousins is the second option when he, Robert Griffin III and Grossman are all healthy. That won't change with the addition of White, who is the definition of a gimmicky quarterback. Cousins, who was a fourth-round pick last year, performed extremely well in RG3's stead in 2012 and already has to be considered one of the best backup quarterbacks in football (even if Trey Wingo thinks his name is Drew Stanton).

White was drafted 44th overall in 2009, but that was deemed a mistake as soon as his rookie season in Miami came to an end. He threw just five passes that year, failing to complete a single one of them. As a runner, he gained 20-plus yards just once and had only four first-down pickups on 21 carries, averaging fewer than four yards per rush. 

But what about the possibility—raised by Keith McMillan of the Washington Post—that White's presence makes Cousins tradable?

No chance. 

I don't think the Redskins are foolish enough to believe they can get by with White or Grossman, regardless of how good either looks this offseason, and I think they're aware that—even after he returns—they could lose RG3 at any given moment. 

Cousins was drafted to play this exact role. The 'Skins knew there was an enhanced injury risk with Griffin and that's why they used a fourth-round pick on a quarterback who could win games in his stead. The deal to bring White in has no bearing on Cousins whatsoever.


Griffin and White are the wild cards

Griffin, because of his injury, and White, because of his experience as a zone-read quarterback, are the wild-cards. If Griffin can't continue to rehab his right knee at a "superhuman" speed, White's chances of making the team will shoot up. 

Regardless, don't expect RG3 to take any snaps during the preseason, as it's still too early to tell how active he'll be in training camp practices. Now, the Redskins have a guy who can play Griffin's role on the practice field and in preseason games in order to prepare newcomers and refresh the minds of mainstays. 

White will be counted on to emulate Griffin for his own supporting cast. He might only be Rachel Dratch to an offense used to Jennifer Garner, but it's the best option they have in terms of mobility under center. According to the Washington Times, Cousins told a local radio station on Wednesday: 

"With Robert's health where it is right now, to be able to have a guy who can do some of the things Robert does athletically would be important, especially in this offseason time when you're trying to stay sharp and develop your base playbook and improve your base playbook. While I believe I can to some degree run those kind of things, the zone-read stuff, it's going to be much better with a Pat White-type athlete in there who's closer to Robert's skill set."


But why bring Grossman back?

They know what they have in Grossman and they know that is worse than what they have in Griffin and Cousins, and they also know that getting him to work with zone-read at this stage in his career would be like teaching this dog new tricks. 

I'm sure Grossman's deal is a cheap one, but now that they know what they have in Cousins and have also added White, I'm not sure this will stick. If we're talking about a third quarterback regardless, you might be better off with White, who at least plays the Griffin role, can be utilized in some unique ways and has more upside at the age of 27.

There's a chance that they keep the 32-year-old Grossman around because he has become a good solider and even somewhat of a mentor, but White might have a chance to beat him out before Griffin returns and they have to part ways with one of the two.