Washington Commanders franchise QB big board


Who will be the next franchise quarterback of the Washington Commanders?

It's the biggest question facing the franchise after an underwhelming 2021 campaign headlined by a season-ending injury and uneven production at the game's most important position. Fortunately, there appears to be a lot of options on the table for the Commanders whether they come via the draft, free agency or a trade.

For this exercise, NBCSW's Pete Hailey, Ethan Cadeaux, Matt Weyrich and Mike DePrisco ranked the 15 best quarterback targets for the Commanders ahead of the 2022 offseason. 

1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

Age: 38 | 2021 stats: 4,115 yds, 37 TD / 4 INT

Washington has made it clear this offseason that the club wants to take a big swing at quarterback. If Aaron Rodgers becomes available, there's no bigger swing to take. The back-to-back MVP would be the most talented quarterback to ever play in Washington the second he takes his first snap. He's proven over the past two seasons that he's still as good as any signal-caller in the league, despite his playoff shortcomings. Washington has a solid, young defense and decent skill-position players on offense to put around Rodgers. By trading for No. 12, the attractiveness of playing in Washington increases substantially, too. If Rodgers becomes available, Washington should push all its chips into the center for the QB. - Cadeaux

Update: Rodgers reportedly agreed to a four-year, $200 million contract with the Packers

2. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

Age: 33 | 2021 stats: 3,113 yds, 25 TD / 6 INT

It's unclear just how willing, if at all, the Seahawks are to trade Russell Wilson. If they do, the package required to get him will be astronomical. Yet the Commanders should do everything they can to acquire Wilson if there's even a smidgeon of a chance he's on the block. We saw what kind of impact Matt Stafford made on the Rams this season and there are plenty of reasons to believe Washington is a franchise QB away from being legit contenders. They can't afford to be the runners-up once again. - Weyrich

Update: The Seahawks reportedly traded Wilson to the Broncos 

3. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans

Age: 26 | 2021 stats: N/A

There should be an asterisk the size of a baseball next to Deshaun Watson's name here. In my opinion, the current sexual misconduct and sexual assault accusations he's facing make him impossible for Washington to acquire, seeing as owner Dan Snyder has recently been accused of sexual harassment in his own right. However, if Watson's murky situation is cleared up, then he makes complete sense for the Commanders to pursue — but that "if" is as big as it gets. - Hailey

4. Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders

Age: 30 | 2021 stats: 4,804 yds, 23 TD / 14 INT

Carr is about to enter the final year of his contract and it's been suggested he could get an extension north of $40 million per year. It's fair to wonder if he's worth all of that money. Carr is certainly better than the non-Wilson/Rodgers candidates on this list, but he's not close to those two guys, either. Still, he'd be the best QB Washington's had since Kirk Cousins so that price tag may be worth it to them. - DePrisco

5. Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers

Age: 30 | 2021 stats: 3,810 yds, 20 TD / 12 INT

Even with the warranted criticisms of Jimmy Garappolo, the numbers don't lie: when Jimmy G starts, his team usually wins. Garoppolo isn't an elite quarterback by any means, but he's proven capable to take talented teams deep in the postseason. Washington's roster has multiple similarities to San Francisco's -- a solid defense, especially along the front, along with multiple versatile skill players on offense. The Commanders are a situation Jimmy G would likely welcome, too. If Washington misses out on Rodgers, Wilson or Watson, Garoppolo is surely their best option to compete in 2022. - Cadeaux

6. Malik Willis, Liberty

Age: 22 | 2021 stats: 2,857 yds, 27 TD / 12 INT (878 rush yds, 13 TD)

This year's playoffs showed that superb quarterback play is what the Commanders need to be striving for. Not quarterback play that is merely an upgrade over what they've recently had and not quarterback play that is solid or really good with a quality roster. To actually matter in this sport, it's a requirement to have a signal-caller who can affect the game in a multitude of ways and who is electric enough to climb out of deficits late. Willis could one day become that sort of piece, even if it'll take him a while to get there. - Hailey

7. Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh

Age: 23 | 2021 stats: 4,319 yds, 42 TD / 7 INT

Kenny Pickett exploded onto the college football scene in 2021, finishing as a Heisman Trophy finalist. The Pitt star put up incredible numbers while cementing himself as a likely first-round pick in the process. Yet, when looking at Pickett's full body of work, his lack of success over his first four seasons cannot be ignored. While he did improve in almost every facet in 2021, there are still questions about his decision-making and arm strength. Pickett has the tools to be a successful NFL quarterback, but for him to land in Washington, the Commanders would have to use pick No. 11 on him. The value, though, might not be worth it. - Cadeaux

8. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

Age: 33 | 2021 stats: 4,221 yds, 33 TD / 7 INT

Could a Cousins reunion actually work? Probably not considering Washington had plenty of chances to sign Cousins to a long-term deal five years ago and let the Vikings ink him to $84 million guaranteed. Also, throw in the fact that his cap hit would be $45 million for the 2022 season and you start to see why this likely won't happen. However, it's not like the Commanders are in a position to say "absolutely not" to a guy who consistently puts up 4,000-yard, 30-touchdown seasons. - DePrisco

9. Matt Corral, Ole Miss

Age: 23 | 2021 stats: 3,343 yds, 20 TD / 5 INT (614 rush yds, 11 TD)

Corrall may lack size, but he makes up for it with a good arm and an ability to extend plays with his legs. His transition to the pros may not be as seamless as other QBs in his class due to Ole Miss' offensive scheme, but a team like the Commanders could view him as a high-upside investment and go with Heinicke or another veteran quarterback in 2022. - DePrisco

10. Jared Goff, Detroit Lions

Age: 27 | 2021 stats: 3,245 yds, 19 TD / 8 INT

Goff showed some life under center once Dan Campbell took over play-calling and some offensive weapons began to emerge. He finished the year with a career-high 67.2 completion percentage and a passer rating (91.5) identical to his average with the Rams. Detroit probably gives him another shot at their starting job, but he would be an intriguing option for the Commanders. - Weyrich

11. Carson Wentz, Indianapolis Colts

Age: 29 | 2021 stats: 3,563 yds, 27 TD / 7 INT

The reason Carson Wentz is so low is not necessarily a reflection of his talent. Rather, over the past few years, it's been proven that a good, not great QB can only take a team so far. Indianapolis' roster in 2021 was stacked. Seven players made the Pro Bowl. Yet, the team still missed out on the postseason and Wentz's shortcomings were a major reason why. Wentz has proven his ceiling is just an above-average QB. The question is, does he have the ability to take over a game anymore, nonetheless carry a team on a postseason run? For Washington, chasing after Wentz would show the franchise is content to be stuck in mediocrity. - Cadeaux

12. Sam Howell, North Carolina

Age: 21 | 2021 stats: 3,056 yds, 24 TD / 9 INT (828 rush yds, 11 TD)

Despite the down year he endured in his final season at UNC, Sam Howell may be the best option for the Commanders in the draft. First of all, none of the QBs from this year's draft probably warrant a first-round pick, yet it appears likely that at least Kenny Pickett and Malik Willis will be gone by No. 11. The Commanders could trade back and select Howell with a later pick or even snag him in the second round if he slips that far. His two best traits are his accuracy and ability to throw under pressure, two attributes that can take a QB far in the NFL. If Washington has the confidence to develop a young signal-caller, Howell is a strong investment at his current draft stock. - Weyrich

13. Taylor Heinicke, Washington Commanders

Age: 28 | 2021 stats: 3,419 yards, 20 TD / 15 INT

Watching Taylor Heinicke get his chance to start for essentially a full season in 2021 was enjoyable to watch. Crotchety journalists will say you shouldn't root for guys you cover, but Heinicke was too likable not to. That said, his inconsistencies and lack of true physical gifts get exposed over long stretches of play, which makes him a Colt McCoy-like backup whom no one should be interested in seeing as the No. 1 guy under basically any circumstance. - Hailey

14. Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati

Age: 22 | 2021 stats: 3,334 yds, 30 TD / 8 INT (355 rush yds, 6 TD)

There's a lot to like about Ridder. He's big, mobile, has a great arm and was a four-year starter at Cincy. He isn't accurate enough at this point yet, however. Considering that's the most important quality a quarterback can have these days, it makes Ridder a hard sell for any team looking for their next franchise quarterback in this year's draft. - DePrisco

15. Carson Strong, Nevada

Age: 22 | 2021 stats: 4,186 yds, 36 TD / 8 INT

Strong unironically has a cannon for an arm and can move a lot better than you'd expect out of a pocket-passing specialist. Still, he isn't expected to be a first-round pick this year and if all the Commanders come away with from this offseason is Heinicke and a mid-round rookie, that's going to be a tough sell to the fan base. - DePrisco

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