So where does the Washington Football Team go from here? The only path is up.
Oh, the franchise has proven 7-10 isn't the bottom. The last generation is littered with worse marks. But it's on to a new name and hopefully rebranding brings a reboot, because the past 30 years since its third and final Super Bowl championship have been a revolving door that led to nowhere.
Washington needs plenty of help. A middle linebacker, top receiver and guard for starters. But the only escape from mediocrity is a star quarterback. Not some retread veteran free agent or even a decent passer someone else is willing to trade because no one trades a good quarterback. There's always a problem that will be exposed in Washington.
No, it's all about getting lucky in the draft where first-round quarterbacks are literally a 50/50 deal. That Washington has developed one good first-rounder in the franchise's 90 years, and that it was Sammy Baugh in 1937, doesn't bode well for this draft. But anything else is hedging a bet and Washington has gone all in and busted too many times not to take its best chance in the first round.
Move up, down or wait another year to get the right passer, but either get the right passer or it's just another year wasted like 2021.
Truly, coach Ron Rivera doesn't have another year to give away. Two were enough. The roster is almost all of his guys. That the team played passionately is a start. Rivera gained the most from them in the season's second half.
But Washington needs a quarterback. It started three this season for the third straight year. After trying to believe Ryan Fitzpatrick was a real option, he lasted 20 minutes before suffering a season-ending injury. Bad luck, but also bad karma for a team unable to sustain success under center.
That's why Washington needs to figure out a Plan A in the draft and not settle for B in free agency. Trade up, get whichever passer deems best. But rather than give three firsts to a seller, throw in defensive tackle Daron Payne as an option. Payne has been a decent performer as a 2018 first-rounder, but Washington frankly won't miss him. Re-sign free agent Tim Settle for less money and hope defensive end Chase Young returns healthy and driven to lead the line.
Rivera tried to first build a defense and then insert a quarterback who didn't need to carry the team. It didn't work. The defense was mediocre at best most games and the NFL is an offensive-driven league anyway. So, focus on the offense. Find a passer, a better line to protect him and some receiving options to help.
Cause without a quarterback, it doesn't matter who else is coming or what the team is named.
Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks.