By Rich Tandler
The fact that the Redskins are likely to pursue a big-name receiver in free agency is one of the most poorly kept secrets in Washington.
They have half of what they need to lure a big-time pass catcher like Vincent Jackson or Marques Colston to town. They have more salary cap space that most teams and, unlike some of those teams with cap room, they are willing to use it.
What the Redskins don’t have, however, is an NFL quarterback. John Beck and Jonathan Crompton are the two signal callers under contract. Beck has not established himself as a viable option in five years in the league and Crompton has yet to be on a regular season roster.
Receivers need a quarterback like a car needs gas. It is difficult to imagine how any amount of money would be enough to lure a quality receiver to the Redskins with their current batch of QB’s.
Of course, the Redskins do have plans to upgrade the position in a big way. It seems likely that either Peyton Manning, who has made average receivers look good and good receivers look great, or whiz kid Robert Griffin III.
The problem that the Redskins have is that plans aren’t worth the paper they are written on. Until they have a better quarterback under contract, or at least a clear path to making that happen, receivers are going to be very hesitant to take the Redskins’ money.
That is why it seems possible, perhaps likely, that the Redskins will do something to secure the rights to a new quarterback either prior to the start of free agency or very soon into it. The talks with the Rams to acquire the second pick in the draft have been ongoing at least since the combine, perhaps for longer. The Redskins’ pursuit of Peyton Manning became known almost the moment that it became clear that Manning would be an ex-Colt on or before March 8.
It’s all an effort to not only end the search for a franchise quarterback, which stretches back anywhere from 20 to 40 years depending on how you define “franchise”, but to sell free agent receivers on the notion that there will be a real NFL quarterback, or at least a hot prospect with a strong, accurate arm, in Washington in 2012. If they can seal the deal for either Manning or the rights to RG3 prior to the start of free agency a week from today, so much the better.
The situation has caused Mike Shanahan, who is the master of cloak and dagger games around the time of the draft and free agency, to become almost transparent in the search for a quarterback. Desperate times call for desperate measures.