How Ryan Fitzpatrick signing could impact Washington’s approach in the NFL Draft

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Mike DePrisco
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Fitzpatrick signing could impact Washington’s approach in the NFL Draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The biggest question mark for the Washington Football Team entering free agency was at quarterback. On Monday night, we got part of the answer when the team reportedly signed 38-year-old journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick to a one-year, $10 million deal. 

Fitzpatrick will join Kyle Allen and Taylor Heinicke in the Washington quarterback room and presumably have the inside track on the starting job for Week 1 based on the money he signed for. However, that doesn't mean he's the last acquisition the team can make at that position.

As NBC Sports' Mike Florio and Chris Simms broke down on Pro Football Talk Tuesday, the move could not only signal Washington's desire to develop a younger passer behind Fitzpatrick, but it could also help them land the right prospect with the 19th overall pick. 

"Having Fitzpatrick now makes it far less glaring as the picks start to go 13, 14, 15, 16," Florio said. "If you're in the 20s or out of Round 1 and there's a guy you love who's sliding toward 19, if it's just Kyle Allen and Taylor Heinicke [in Washington], you may as well just have a billboard outside of your facility saying, 'Hey watch us take a quarterback at No. 19.' So somebody knows they have to get to No. 18 to keep that from happening. 

"Now with Fitzpatrick, it's less obvious that you gotta get in front of No. 19," he said.

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If Washington opts to take a quarterback in the draft to learn and develop during his rookie year, it wouldn't be the first time Fitzpatrick was in such a position. He was the Dolphins' starter for the first seven games of the season before head coach Brian Flores turned to rookie first-round pick Tua Tagovailoa. 

As has been the case with Fitzpatrick for his entire career, there's typically an expiration date on him as a reliable starter. At some point, the interceptions start piling up. 

"My only concern about Fitzpatrick, when you go all-in and make him your guy, inevitably 'Fitzmagic' becomes 'Fitztragic' and you start looking at who else you can put on the field," Florio said. "That happens everywhere he's the starter."

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So while Fitzpatrick is a good start for a Washington team not in a great spot to take one of the top quarterbacks in April's draft, there is certainly still work to be done at the game's most important position. Especially considering how good the defense was in Year 1 under Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio, and the young stars Washington has on both sides of the ball. 

"Washington, that position, that team right now, I don't know what they're gonna do," Simms said. "It's gonna be interesting to see. They're sitting in no man's land like what talked about last week where the NFL Draft is concerned at [No. 19]. I don't know if someone's gonna be there where you can say 'We're going to be able to play him this year.'

"The more you kind of dig into them, the more you go, 'Man, Washington's close. It's not far away here,'" Simms said. "There's a lot of good things to like about their football team."