WFT's Top Trade Targets Entering 2021 NFL Offseason

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistFebruary 1, 2021

WFT's Top Trade Targets Entering 2021 NFL Offseason

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    Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

    Thanks in no small part to the addition of head coach Ron Rivera, the Washington Football Team was one of 2020's pleasant surprises. Despite going 7-9, the Football Team won the NFC East and hosted a playoff game, though fell short against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers—who will contest the Super Bowl.

    Washington has a solid roster on both sides of the ball and a particularly impressive defense, one that ranked second in 2020. There are some questions marks for new general manager Martin Mayhew to address, though, most notably at quarterback.

    The Football Team parted with 2019 first-round pick Dwayne Haskins and may or may not have Alex Smith and/or Taylor Heinicke back in 2021.

    Here we'll examine three top potential trade targets that Washington should consider this offseason—both at quarterback and elsewhere. Factors like player potential, team need and salary-cap space will be considered. Washington is projected to have nearly $23 million in cap space this offseason, eighth-most in the NFL.

Deshaun Watson

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    Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

    Finding a franchise quarterback is unquestionably the biggest challenge sitting in front of Mayhew as he enters his first offseason as Washington's GM.

    According to Ben Standig of The Athletic, the Football Team made a serious run at Matthew Stafford, who went to the Los Angeles Rams: "Washington made the Lions a significant offer for QB Matthew Stafford, per sources. One person familiar with the situation said the WFT offer included more immediate help than what Lions landed."

    With Stafford out of the picture, Washington should consider trying to bring in Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. He's just 25, is a three-time Pro Bowler and just so happens to want out of Houston.

    Trading for Watson wouldn't be cheap, but it could set up Washington to dominate its division for several years. Most of the other pieces are in place, and Watson is one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL.

Sam Darnold

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    While New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold hasn't established himself as a franchise-caliber signal-caller, he's shown more than Haskins did at the pro level. It's fair to believe that he could flourish away from former Jets head coach Adam Gase too. We have watched Ryan Tannehill do exactly that with the Tennessee Titans over the past two years.

    Like Watson, Darnold is a young passer who could lead Washington for the next decade-plus if he develops into a high-end starter. The caveat here is that New York and new head coach Robert Saleh may not be ready to give up on him.

    However, it's worth exploring a trade for Darnold because his future in New York is far from guaranteed. The Jets are armed with the second overall pick in the draft and could use it to select Darnold's replacement.

    Additionally, the Jets could be the team that lands Watson on the trade market. According to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, one can "start with the Jets" when it comes to determining potential destinations.

    If Darnold isn't included in a deal for Watson—or is replaced outright in the draft—Washington could swoop in and snag him.

Teddy Bridgewater

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    Brian Blanco/Associated Press

    According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, the Carolina Panthers were among the teams that discussed a Stafford deal with the Detroit Lions. This could indicate that Carolina is looking to move on from Teddy Bridgewater after just one season.

    Bridgewater was serviceable in his first campaign with the Panthers—he had a passer rating of 92.1—but Carolina seems to want more out of the position. The Panthers may turn their attention to Watson or to the draft, in which they hold the eighth overall selection.

    If Carolina is ready to part ways with Bridgewater, Washington might have an opportunity to land him. While he isn't a playmaker on Watson's level, he could be a high-end game-manager for the Football Team.

    As Smith showed during his incredible comeback this season, a high-end game-manager is all Washington needs to compete in the NFC East. And if Bridgewater can become more than that, he might just be a long-term solution.

    Though Bridgewater was drafted in 2014, he's still only 28. As is the case with Watson and Darnold, Washington has the space to absorb Bridgewater's $20 million 2020 cap hit.


    Cap and contract information via Spotrac.