We like to keep an eye on our NFC East rivals here at Inside The Star, and things are certainly bad for the Redskins right now at quarterback. It was reported yesterday that Quarterback Alex Smith's gruesome leg injury last year will probably cost him 2019 as well. What's next for Washington at their most important position?
According to the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the Redskins are going to handle their offseason business as if Smith won't play next year.
One storyline to follow for 2019: The #Redskins are planning as if they won't have QB Alex Smith next season, sources say. They believe he'll miss the entire season with his broken leg issues and are acting accordingly. If he's ready, they will be pleasantly surprised.
So barring that unexpected recovery from Alex, who will be starting for Washington next year? And what resources do they have to replace him?
The Redskins could go with the only other QB currently under contract, longtime backup Colt McCoy. Unlike Smith, McCoy is expected to be back from his leg injury much faster. He was one of the higher-paid backups in the league already with a $3.5 million cap hit in 2019, so Washington may decide to just ride with him.
They could also re-sign veteran Josh Johnson, who was brought in after McCoy's injury last year. Despite coming in off the street, Johnson performed decently and helped the Redskins get their only victory after losing Alex Smith. At the least, Johnson and McCoy could compete for the starting job.
But considering that Washington went 1-6 after Smith's injury, and were more lucky than good in their six wins prior to that, they may decide to just use the 2019 season to rebuild.
The Redskins hold the 15th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. However, many are calling this a weak quarterback class. If it's going to be a down year anyway, Washington is probably smarter to wait for a better QB crop and perhaps a higher draft pick in 2020.
If Washington looks to tank this year then just riding with McCoy makes sense. But if they want to try to compete, that leaves an unappealing free agency market to turn to.
Keep in mind, though, that Smith will still count about $20 million against the Redskins' salary cap even if he's placed on injured reserve. So they won't be able to throw big money at someone like Nick Foles if he becomes available.
One name that stands out is Tyrod Taylor, whose contract has expired with the Cleveland Browns. He was mired in the early atrocities of Hue Jackson but could still be serviceable in the right offense. Another is Teddy Bridgewater, who spent the last year backing up Drew Brees in New Orleans.
If not them, Washington will be hoping for some potential cap casualties like Joe Flacco or Blake Bortles. Otherwise, the next names on the list are guys like Matt Cassel and Brandon Weeden.
Or... Robert Griffin III. How fun would that be?
What Washington decides to do, or not do, will ultimately depend on their belief in contending this season. A smart team might roll the dice on a mid-round rookie QB, let him compete with a competent guy like McCoy, and see if something special happens.
Worst case scenario; you flop this year and improve your 2020 draft pick. Not like you were probably going anywhere anyway.
But thankfully for the Cowboys and the rest of the NFC East, the Redskins rarely does things the smart way. We'll find out their next master plan in the next few months.
Dak Prescott Impresses, Draws Compliments All Minicamp Long
Dak Prescott stood before the media Thursday in a Stetson Cowboy hat, answering questions about his upcoming contract extension.
“I’ve got my cowboy hat on, so I’m a Cowboy, we’ll say that.”
Prescott has cemented himself as the franchise quarterback of America's Team, and now it's time for the franchise to pay him like it. Set to earn roughly $34 million per year (according to recent rumors/reports), Prescott is going to be a very rich and comfortable man in the near future.
But, for now, he still plays under his fourth round rookie contract. You wouldn't be able to tell by watching him on the field, however. Though it was just minicamp, Prescott was impressive as ever over the last couple weeks of practice, earning praise from all levels within the organization.
Veteran Jason Witten complimented both Prescott's anticipation and accuracy, saying his throws have been "off the charts" at minicamp. Prescott himself said that this is the best he's felt since he's entered the league, and it certainly makes sense for this to be the case.
"Is it three years under my belt or just seeing defenses a whole lot more clear, being quicker and faster in everything I want to do, having great teammates around me? Who really knows the answer, but I feel great. I feel confident, and my teammates do, as well.” - Prescott to DallasCowboys.com
If Prescott was ever going to be comfortable, hungry, and ready to go, this is likely the time that it would happen. He has three relatively successful seasons under his belt, and ended 2018 on the best stretch of his career. He is the unquestioned starting quarterback for this team, and has the backing of every key decision maker in the building.
Prescott now has an offensive coordinator who he has not only worked closely with (in some capacity) since he entered the league in 2016, but is also being lauded for his creativity as an offensive mastermind. His quarterbacks coach, Jon Kitna, has been receiving similar praise for how he can coach up Prescott and get his footwork consistent, to help him "throw it through a Fruit Loop."
The time is now for Dak Prescott, and it's encouraging to see how he is responding to this increased pressure and responsibility. Then again we should have no doubt that he will respond positively, as he as throughout his entire young career.
Whenever faced with adversity, Prescott has answered the bell. Now he has all the supporters he needs, and just needs to prove them right.
Does RB Ezekiel Elliott Have A Chance At NFL MVP?
Who is the Cowboys best player?
As a running back, it's quite possible that Elliott is both the best of that bunch and the least important to the team's overall success. NFL.com's Adam Schein disagrees with the latter statement, however, placing Ezekiel Elliott among his top ten contenders for 2019 NFL MVP.
"I think the Cowboys are going to challenge for the Super Bowl in 2019 -- and I think Zeke fuels this team. When Elliott runs for 95-plus yards, the Cowboys are 19-4; when he falls below that benchmark, they're 9-8." - Adam Schein
Schein's prediction will no doubt make Cowboys Nation swoon, but does Elliott really have the opportunity to compete for an MVP award?
For one, this would require the Cowboys be among the best teams in the league this season. It's quite possible, as they did win 10 regular season and 1 playoff game a year ago, but it will have to happen once again for Elliott to be considered.
Next, Ezekiel Elliott would have to put up incredible numbers. Well, it's safe to assume this will likely be the case if condition one is met. Elliott is going to get a lot of opportunities to touch the ball each game, and finding himself among the league's rushing leaders has never been an issue for the young running back. Especially if the team has a lead and is running the ball to kill clock.
Even if both these conditions prove true, though, Elliott will still have trouble getting himself in the real MVP discussion. These awards tend to go to certain positions, and running back is not among that list. If Dallas has such a successful 2019, and their offense is clicking, it's more likely Dak Prescott will be the one contending for that MVP honor.
I know to some it sounds crazy, but Prescott will likely need to be closer to MVP level than Elliott if the Cowboys are to contend in the way Adam Schein suggests in his article.
So, likely, Schein should have named Prescott among his top ten MVP contenders, not Elliott.
Amari Cooper Says He’s Focused On Football, Not His Next Contract
It seems like all anyone has talked about this offseason is who the Cowboys should re-sign, and how they can go about doing so.
Wide receiver Amari Cooper, of course, is heavily involved in those conversations. The Cowboys used their 2019 first round pick to trade for the Pro Bowl wide out last season, and Cooper's emergence helped to turn their struggling offense around immediately.
In just 9 games with the Cowboys last season, he caught 53 passes for 725 yards and 6 touchdowns. He quickly gained the trust of quarterback Dak Prescott, and exhibited a chemistry with the young passer that no one else really has to this point. Outside of maybe Cole Beasley in 2016, perhaps.
While the football world seems to be focusing on what Amari Cooper's contract will look like after 2019, the receiver himself claims to be solely focused on the upcoming season. Cooper spoke with ESPN's Todd Archer about this very subject, emphasizing where his mind lies at this time.
"I just handle my business...I'm more anxious about camp and actually playing football." - Amari Cooper.
Amari Cooper has just one year left on his contract as he plays under the fifth year option from his rookie deal. Cooper will make $13.9 million this season, putting him behind some of the league's other WR1s like Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, and DeAndre Hopkins.
There had been speculation around whether any of the Cowboys left with just one year on their contract would hold-out through parts of offseason activity, but Cooper alluded that it never seemed to cross his mind.
"I just want to get better and I love football. That's why I'm here" - Cooper.
Of course, Amari Cooper will play a huge role in the Cowboys offense in 2019. Combining him with a second year version of Michael Gallup, and new versatile threats like Tony Pollard and Randall Cobb, will help make the Dallas passing game as multiple as it's been in years.
The Cowboys will eventually need to get Amari Cooper locked up long term, but for the time being it seems like both he and the franchise are more focused on what will happen on the field in 2019 than in the negotiating room next Spring.
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