The Washington Football Team may once again be in pursuit of a quarterback, in an offseason that could be bursting at the seams with top talent at the position.
After overtures were made last offseason, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson could all potentially be on the move in 2022, making the upcoming offseason an ideal time to have plenty of salary cap space and the need for a quarterback. Washington has both.
With Washington only just beginning its offseason after its regular-season finale on Sunday, head coach Ron Rivera is already keeping his options open publicly, stating his desire to "look at every avenue" at quarterback, including internal options, free agency, the trade market and the draft.
Rivera was asked specifically about Watson during his weekly 106.7 The Fan appearance with The Sports Junkies on Tuesday, presented by F.H. Furr.
"Can this organization — because from a football perspective, it could be a game-changer — could this organization go after Deshaun Watson," asked Junkies host Eric Bickel.
"This organization will be able to do what it needs to do, okay?" Rivera said. "And that's all I'm gonna say on that."
That's not a no, to be clear. It's a non-committal response to a question about a top-flight quarterback whose trade value could potentially skyrocket in short order. Although all prior attempts by Houston to trade Watson — both in season and in the offseason prior — have failed, there's reason to believe that, after sitting out the entire 2021 season, the 26-year-old quarterback could soon command the full attention of an active trade market.
At present time, Watson's camp is reportedly hoping for some resolution to the looming prospect of a potential grand jury indictment by the end of January, which would presumably initiate action towards the stymied settlement talks in the 22 separate civil suits accusing Watson of either sexual assault or sexual misconduct.
In other words, if Watson is cleared of criminal charges in the near future, the demand for him will go through the roof while he's left to sort through settlement talks with his accusers. That's a big if still standing in the way, but the reported optimism from Watson's camp could be telling.
"Just so everybody understands, man, come February 2 — and you guys know what's happening Feb. 2, 2022 — we're going forward," Rivera told The Junkies. "Don't hold me back. Don't pull me backwards. Let me go forward. Let's get past and beyond stuff and understand what we're gonna try and do how we're gonna try and do it. We're gonna try and do it the right way. Whatever we do, we're gonna do it because we believe it's what's right for our football team and we're gonna do it the right way."
Rivera also scoffed at the idea that Washington may not be a desirable destination for one of the aforementioned elite quarterbacks.
"When you hear guys like, well, Aaron Rodgers is not coming here, he's not coming to D.C. Deshaun Watson's not coming to D.C. Russell Wilson, none of those guys want to come to D.C. What do you say to that," Bickel asked. "And then, could you throw $50 million at them?"
"Yeah, but I would say why not?" Rivera replied. "Why wouldn't they come here?"
"Because we've been so bad for so many years," said Bickel, a lifelong Washington fan. "We're 31st in attendance. We've been terrible."
"Alright," Rivera said. "Well, what cures all that?"
"Money," Bickel replied, with his co-host John Auville adding, "Dubs. Wins."
"God almighty. What the heck is that? It's called winning. W-I-N-N-I-N-G. Winning," Rivera said. "That's the key to it all. If you start putting points on the board and you start winning, people will come back. People will appreciate what's going on."
"What I'm trying to get everybody to understand is first thing you've got to learn is play hard," he continued. "Then you've got to learn how to play to win. Now once you start winning, they're gonna come. And that's what we're working towards. Again, if that's what the intent is and, I'll be honest with you, I like what we've done in terms of our offensive line.
"I like the tight end position. Wide receiver position I think is very good. I know Curtis [Samuel] had a tough year this year, physically and health-wise. But get him back on the football field. Couple him with — again, you guys praise him and I love him — Terry [McLaurin], that's pretty cool. We've got a 1,000-yard rusher, a young guy. Do you feel like there's some pretty good pieces in place as far as the offense is concerned? I'm asking you guys now."
"You've got pieces, yeah," Jason Bishop agreed. "But you need that quarterback. Taylor's fine, but he's a backup. And I know you know it and you might not want to say it, but you know that. But let me just say this: You said winning cures all that. But if you draft a quarterback at 11, it's gonna take a few years to win."
"Maybe. Maybe not," Rivera countered. "Seriously. What happened with Ben Roethlisberger?"
"Some guys can step in," Bickel said. "But it's rare."
"I know it's rare and I know it's hard, but why can't you do it," Rivera asked. "Come on, guys. Don't be schleprocking me. Don't be gloom and doom. Crap, I'm trying to build something. I need you guys to help sell it for me."