While Fitzpatrick starts anew with his ninth NFL team, Washington fills its largest roster hole with another 16-year veteran whose experience should bolster an offense in transition.
Its plausible that Fitzpatrick competes for the starting job with Kyle Allen, who returns on a one-year, exclusive rights tender, and Taylor Heinicke, who re-upped on a two-year deal after impressing in the teams wild-card playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Its also plausible that Washington turns to the draft to find its long-term answer at quarterback.
Analysis: Many NFL teams are facing a salary cap crunch. That gives Washington a big opportunity.
In the meantime, however, Fitzpatrick provides a bridge for a team in the midst of a rebuild. Washington released Alex Smith after he returned from injury to lead the team back to the playoffs, and earlier made a play for Matthew Stafford, the former Detroit Lions quarterback who was dealt to the Los Angeles Rams.
The plan was clear: Washington sought an upgrade at quarterback, be it a long-term solution or a short-term improvement.
Do you want to be able to say this is our franchise quarterback? Well, yeah, you would love to, Coach Ron Rivera said earlier this month. But you dont know that until the quarterback starts playing, or quarterbacks. Once that starts happening, then youll know. Weve just got to continue to go through this, study the players and get the one that we feel can become that player. Well see what happens.
Fitzpatrick, at 38, isnt the future. But his experience should allow Washingtons young offense to continue to develop while its defense continues to lead the way.
The Harvard graduate was the last of 14 quarterbacks drafted in 2005, taken at No. 250 overall by the Rams. Hes one of only three still playing in the league, along with Smith, No. 1 overall pick that year, and Aaron Rodgers, the 24th selection that year.
After stops in Cincinnati, Buffalo, Tennessee, Houston, the New York Jets and Tampa Bay, Fitzpatrick signed with the Miami in 2019. In his two seasons with the Dolphins, Fitzpatrick played 24 games and went 9-11 as a starter while mentoring young quarterbacks Josh Rosen and Tua Tagovailoa. He was named the teams most valuable player in 2019 and twice won its Don Shula Leadership Award.
New GM Martin Mayhew again returns to Washington with unfinished business
Ill tell you, thats the most important position on the football field really, so youve got to have football intelligence to play the position, Washington General Manager Martin Mayhew said in February. Youve got to have the arm talent, the leadership ability is really important. One of the most important things I think is the football character. Thats all the preparation that goes into it, thats understanding the game, thats being mentally tough, thats having passion for it. All of those things are required in that position. You really cant cut any corners there. Youve got to really be a complete football player to be successful there.
Washington faced numerous roster decisions ahead of free agency, and its offseason to-do list only grew on Monday. According to people with knowledge of the transactions, starting cornerback Ronald Darby agreed to a three-year contract with the Denver Broncos and linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis reached a two-year agreement with the Houston Texans, creating more vacancies than solutions.
Washington will, however, re-sign kicker Dustin Hopkins to a one-year deal and still has close to $38 million in salary cap space, according to Overthecap.com.
What we want to do is get to the point where we dont have to start all over, Rivera said. “We want to make sure we look at every option we have and when we do things, we move cautiously, smart. We dont want to put ourselves in a position where we have to start all over again in a year or two. We want to be able to say, Hey, we put the right pieces in place that gives us the opportunity to go out and do what we want to do. But we want to be truly smart about it.

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