The Washington Post

Roster analysis: Quarterbacks

The NFL Draft took place just more than a week ago, and whenever the lockout is lifted, free agency could begin. The Washington Redskins have money to spend and are champing at the bit, according to people inside the organization.

We’ve examined the Redskins’ linebackers, defensive backs, defensive line, offensive line, running backs, receivers and free agents at those positions. Now for their quarterbacks.

Veterans: Donovan McNabb, John Beck.

Drafted: None.

Expired contracts: Rex Grossman.

Top needs: Starting quarterback, two backups.

The Donovan McNabb experiment (the Redskins gave up a second-round pick last year and a fourth-round pick this year for him) failed miserably. Washington has until the day after the opening game to cut the six-time Pro Bowl passer or pay him a $10 million bonus. The Redskins will almost certainly try to trade him and there could be suitors. But the team has little leverage, so it won’t likely get more than a mid-round pick for him.

The draft analysts thought the Redskins would pick a quarterback. Mike Shanahan talked about the deep 2011 quarterback class, then passed on Blaine Gabbert and didn’t try to trade back into the first round or high second round to grab another passer.

The future starter appears to be John Beck. Shanahan gushed over him after the draft concluded. Beck has been saying and doing all the right things, and despite his unproven track record, his time finally may be here.

But do John Beck, a re-signed Rex Grossman as his backup, and possibly a rookie free agent third-stringer spell improvement?

Who’s on the streets? Marc Bulger (who reportedly was Plan B if Washington couldn’t get McNabb last year)? Kerry Collins, who is entering his 16th year? Charlie Frye? Alex Smith? Chris Simms, who is such good friends with Kyle Shanahan that they share tattoos of each other’s initials?

None of those guys sound like saviors.

The Redskins have been linked to Vince Young, whose time in Tennessee ended badly. He is expected to be released. And there were people at Redskins Park last season who would’ve preferred Young over McNabb. But Young feuded often with Jeff Fisher, a good friend of Mike Shanahan’s. It’s unlikely Fisher would vouch for Young, and Shanahan is looking for a strong leader. Young is talented, but is he mentally tough enough? Nothing’s impossible, but it’d be a real surprise to see Young in a Redskins jersey next year.

Carson Palmer may or may not be available. He has said he would rather retire than return to the Bengals. The Bengals have said they won’t trade him, but do they really mean it? Would the asking price, which no doubt would include multiple high picks (probably at least one first-rounder), be too high for the Redskins?

The top undrafted quarterback is Delaware’s Pat Devlin, who refused to sign a contract prior to the UFL draft because he was holding out hope of playing in the NFL. Wisconsin’s Scott Tolzien and Texas Tech’s Taylor Potts also remain undrafted free agents. But if the Redskins did sign an undrafted rookie, he likely would be an always-inactive third-string quarterback or practice squad guy to run the scout team, not an answer for the future. If the Beck experiment fails, Washington would likely draft a quarterback next year.

Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.
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