SNIDER: WFT path for passer gets longer

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The NFL playoffs are not helping the Washington Football Team find a veteran quarterback.

Jimmy Garoppolo's price escalated after leading the San Francisco 49ers to the NFC Championship. Aaron Rodgers may leave the Green Bay Packers, but said he doesn't want to be part of a rebuild that consumes teams like Washington regularly. That's two targets off the market.

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Meanwhile, Russell Wilson says he doesn't want to leave the Seattle Seahawks, though everyone says such things right up to the door. The Las Vegas Raiders might part with Derek Carr if the incoming coach has other plans. But, the price will be excessive.

The past weekend's playoff shootouts showed just how invaluable passers are, so there's no discounts coming, not for veterans or rookies should Washington need to move up from No. 11 overall. And, Washington will trade up if wanting to pick the best prospect.

Coach Ron Rivera's legacy will be dictated by his next move after waiting two years too long to make it. Washington won't improve without a top passer and the only reasonable way to get one without mortgaging the future is the draft. Not someone else's castoff, but the next great rookie.

Naturally, this draft lacks a sure-fire franchise passer like Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes. One top mock draft projected Washington choosing Liberty's Malik Willis, but it will take a lot of wax to polish this prospect and Rivera doesn't have time for a second coat. One more losing season and he may be entering retirement.

Rivera has to study the veteran list carefully for his first move. Nothing says the team can't draft a passer, too, but Washington can't go into next season with Taylor Heinicke as the lead option if Rivera wants to see 2023.

Garoppolo seemed like the best bet given San Francisco drafted his successor last year. But, playoff success raises his price too high for someone who gets hurt regularly and frankly isn't the reason the 49ers are one win from the Super Bowl. Yet, the price will be steep anyway because passers are the difference makers.

So Washington's focus shifts to Wilson and Carr knowing neither wants to come and both won't be worth the trade price. Chances are neither sees Washington.

Oh, there's also Houston's Deshaun Watson. And, the answer is no. After all of its sexual misconduct problems over the past two years, the team cannot sign a passer accused of such. Not unless it wants to simply break the final fan base in a tone-deaf move.

Instead, Rivera must convince himself and fans of some mediocre free agent like last season when signing Ryan Fitzpatrick. How'd that fare? A ton of bad luck and Fitzpatrick seeing the postseason bare chested with the Bills Mafia.

The free agent list begins with Teddy Bridgewater, who was decent at Denver last season. Still, good quarterbacks don't bounce around and Bridgewater played for New Orleans, Carolina and Denver over three years after starting in Minnesota. Bridgewater's stats are decent so he'll be everyone's first look, but still the caveat is three straight teams opted not to keep him a second year.

Mitch Trubisky's stats were fair in four seasons in Chicago before spending last season on Buffalo's bench. Still, nobody will be excited over his signing and Washington owner Dan Snyder needs a headliner. Jameis Winston is a serviceable journeyman, but tore his ACL last season. Oh, reports will say his knee is fine, but it's a big leap for Rivera. Marcus Mariota is a fine No. 2, but Washington already has a backup.

Rivera will spend the next two months practicing his poker face for a presser introducing his next quarterback. Hopefully, it's not a bluff.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks.

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