Washington Football Team Offseason Needs 2021
The Washington Football Team were a surprise playoff team who gave Tom Brady and the Buccaneers a run for their money in the first round. Ron Rivera exceeded expectations in his first season in Washington, leading the team to a 7-9 season, topping the NFC East. Lacking a quarterback and an overall offensive identity, a lot must be done during the Washington offseason.
Roster Needs: QB, WR, OT, S
The offense needs significant changes done for Washington to repeat as the winner of the NFC East. Through the air, Washington ranked 25th in yards and 30th in touchdowns. The abysmal numbers get worse as their quarterbacks totaled the 4th most interceptions in the NFL. It all starts with a quarterback, but it may be tough to grab one. Rumors about seemingly every quarterback have gone around through potential trade talks. Deshaun Watson is most likely to be dealt would be an ideal target this Washington offseason.
Any of those quarterbacks would be quality starters ahead of Alex Smith. Owning the sixth most cap space with $43 million, Washington can go after any big-time free agents, or can trade for a high-earning quarterback. A trade for Watson would shore up the position for years to come, but Watson has indicated he would rather play for other teams.
In the highly unlikely event, Dak Prescott does not get re-signed he should be a priority for Washington. Other than those options, there are no franchise quarterbacks able to be signed or traded for during the offseason. The most realistic way to find Washington’s guy is through the draft. The nineteenth pick in the first round means the most promising prospects will be gone, but do not be surprised if Washington uses draft capital to trade up for a quarterback. Alabama star, Mac Jones skyrocketed his draft stock at the Senior Bowl, putting his elite accuracy on display. Trey Lance from NDSU had an absurd season as a freshman before opting out of his second year. Either of the two show promise as future NFL starters.
Even if a quarterback is found this Washington offseason, adding weapons is a must. Second-year receiver, Terry McLaurin continues to shine despite subpar quarterback play. His elite quickness and route-running allow him to create separation with ease. Outside of McLaurin is where other receivers do not produce. Steven Sims managed 26 catches for 265 yards in 12 games played. Impending free agent Cam Sims did not do much better, garnering 477 yards on 32 catches.
Neither are starting-caliber receivers and must be replaced. Given McLaurin’s knack for separating on the outside, Washington would appreciate a receiver who can separate and work the middle of the field. Juju Smith-Schuster fits that bill perfectly. Questions remain as to whether Smith-Schuster can be a true number one in an offense, but his talent is unquestionable. He can read defenses well finding holes in zone coverage as well as breaking tackles and racking up yards after the catch. The 24-year-old would form one of the best young receiving tandems in the league alongside McLaurin.
Will Fuller is an intriguing free agent option for Washington too. The 4.3 speedster became the top receiver in Houston following the departure of DeAndre Hopkins. In 11 games, Fuller totaled 879 yards and 8 touchdowns, averaging the 6th most yards per reception at 16.6. The deep threat can take the top off defenses and force safeties to stay out of the box. Fuller’s game-breaking speed brings an element to the Washington offense like Desean Jackson and Santana Moss once did.
The offensive line could use an upgrade specifically at left tackle. But before that is addressed, stud guard Brandon Scherff is an upcoming free agent, and Washington must sign him to deal to keep him. Per PFF, Scherff rated as the 4th best guard out of 80 qualifying players. The blindside protection was solid with the sudden breakout of Cornelius Lucas. The undrafted player out of Kansas State has been a journeyman up until his current stint in Washington and should not be considered the long term answer. Lucas’s impressive play does give Washington to get a project player, rather than someone who needs to be an immediate starter.
The tackle class is deep with talent and Washington will consider drafting one in the later rounds. Jalen Mayfield from Michigan has all the physical traits of a quality tackle but lacks the proper craft. Mayfield will be available in the second or third round for Washington. If the front office decides to wait until later to draft their future tackle, Spencer Brown out of UNI defines the term project. Brown is a specimen standing at 6’9, 325-pounds. His long arms make him an even better prospect, but Brown does not have any technique to his game. His hand placement and footwork are works in progress, nothing a year of coaching cannot fix.
If they opt to acquire an impact player from day 1, Orlando Brown has indicated his unhappiness in Baltimore. The 24-year-old star tackle is one of the best in the league. He has made the Pro Bowl as both a right and left tackle. He has shown great reliability by not missing a single game in his 3-year career and would be a plug and play blindside protector. The price may be steep, but Brown will be a better tackle than any prospect taken where Washington picks.
The defense carried the team to the playoffs last season. The addition of Chase Young boosted the defensive line to one of the best groups in the league. Forcing the 6th most sacks and the 7th most turnovers, there are not any true needs for this group. A couple of re-signings in cornerback Ronald Darby and linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis will keep all the starters for next season. Some argue that linebacker should be a larger need, but Landon Collins is a hybrid safety that plays well in the box. His coverage skills and instincts make him a weapon as a linebacker if Washington keeps using him in that role.
The addition of safety could raise the secondary to new heights. Kamren Curl plays the slot just as much as free safety, and the undrafted Jeremy Reaves is too unproven. Malik Hooker from Indianapolis may have a chance to turn around an otherwise disappointing career. Dealing with injuries and not being a great scheme-fit with the Colts led to limited production. Hooker’s range and coverage skills make him a great single-high safety, a player Washington could use as they consistently put strong safeties in the box. Hooker is young, has untapped potential, and could shut down big plays Washington was so constantly beat by.