Re-signing McCoy means and does a couple of things for the Redskins.
Although things had been quiet on that front, the door always remained open for a McCoy return.
At first blush, it’s surprising that McCoy would want to come back to this situation – where the team’s top decision-makers aren’t ready to give up on Robert Griffin III, and where Kirk Cousins remains under contract.
But when you think about it, this move does make sense. Jay Gruden remains a fan of McCoy, and McCoy remains a fan of Gruden. McCoy passed through the most active period of free agency without signing with another team, and came to the conclusion that this is the best situation for him.
For McCoy, it’s another opportunity in more than one way. He signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal, which represented an increase over last season’s $795,000 salary.
And he gets to return to a situation where he knows the offense, and he knows the coaching staff appreciates his talents. He also knows that late in the season, those coaches had more confidence in him than the more physically gifted quarterbacks on the team, even though more was invested in both Griffin and Cousins. McCoy ended the season on injured reserve and it killed him because he really felt like he had the golden opportunity to establish himself as Gruden’s go-to guy. Had he finished the year healthy, and had he played well in the process, he likely would have entered this year as the starter. So, a return to the Redskins felt right to him, and he has to have a good bit of hope that he may get a similar opportunity, and that’s something no other team could offer him.
But Gruden named Griffin the starter back at the Combine! What happened to that?
Nothing. Remember, Gruden said he anticipates entering the season with Griffin as his starter. That means during the offseason and at the start of camp, Griffin will take those first-team reps. He’ll be given every opportunity to remain the starter. But as was always the case, if Griffin doesn’t perform well during the offseason practices and training camp, then Gruden will alter his plans.
So, nothing changes for Griffin.
But at the end of the season, looking ahead to this year, Gruden said three quarterbacks made for too crowded a competition!
That’s true. It’s impossible for three quarterbacks to get adequate first-team reps for a fair competition. It’s hard enough for two, let alone three. So, Gruden will still likely consider a two-person competition, with Griffin getting the first crack, as explained above.
So, does that mean Griffin and then McCoy, or Griffin and then Cousins, with McCoy just serving as third string?
It’s hard to say right now. Next Wednesday, we’ll get to ask Gruden this while in Phoenix at the NFL’s annual meetings. But as of right now, all anyone knows is that the quarterbacks are expected to report for duty, prepared to compete for whatever roles there may be.
It’s possible that McCoy and Cousins will use the offseason practices to compete for that No. 2 spot, and whomever lands that position on the depth chart would then have the best chance of unseating Griffin, if he played poorly and they played well.
McCoy’s re-signing also gives the Redskins some flexibility. So far, there have been no serious discussions regarding trading Cousins. But now that they have McCoy back in the mix, it’s not out of the question that things could suddenly change, particularly as we get closer to the draft.
Earlier this offseason, Cousins had the mind-set that he was going to do everything he could to position himself to compete for the starting job, and that if he didn’t land it, he was still only 16 games away from becoming a free agent, and thus have the ability to choose his next destination. Cousins couldn’t have been thrilled about the news that McCoy re-signed. But he likely will take the same approach.
And, it’s also possible that Washington is content to keep all three because of the durability issues Griffin and McCoy have both displayed. It just takes one play, and then you’re down to just two options, and you want two competent guys to turn to.
If all three quarterbacks remain, all three will carry themselves with professionalism. Griffin understands he is in no position to demand anything and has to fight like he never has before. McCoy will continue to wear dual hats – both competitor, and knowledgeable mentor. Cousins will continue to prepare as if he’s the starter, regardless of where he stands on the depth chart.
McCoy’s re-signing also signifies that Gruden and Scot McCloughan thus far have a good working relationship. McCloughan has final personnel say, but he’s big on communication, and he believes in working with his coaches to give them what they want. Gruden believes in McCoy, and even if he acknowledges that the team can’t yet give up on Griffin, he wants to have an option that he trusts. In Gruden’s mind, McCoy gives him a good insurance policy. He has shared his beliefs with McCloughan, and the general manager apparently sees Gruden’s point.
Does this kill the Mariota talk?
Not really. The Redskins still will do their homework on Marcus Mariota, and every other quarterback in the draft. A knowledgeable guy like McCoy is good to have around any young quarterback. Say for some reason Washington did take a quarterback, whether at No. 5 overall, or in the third, fourth or fifth round. That quarterback, regardless of his role, can benefit from having a veteran in his ear, especially one like McCoy, who understands this coaching staff, and what their offense wants from its starter.
It still seems unlikely that Washington would use the fifth pick on a quarterback given their other roster needs. But having three quarterbacks on the roster at this point changes nothing in regard to draft plans.
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