After signing Ryan Fitzpatrick, could Washington still trade for Sam Darnold?

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Ethan Cadeaux
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After signing Fitzpatrick, could WFT still trade for Darnold? originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The Washington Football team agreed to terms with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick on a one-year deal on Monday night, making the veteran the third signal-caller that's under contract for Ron Rivera's club in 2021.

Most teams carry a maximum of three quarterbacks on their active roster during the season, so the addition of Fitzpatrick could very well be the final move to fill Washington's QB room for next season.

However, speaking on 106.7 The Fan's B-Mitch and Finlay show, NFL Insider John Clayton thinks that the addition of Fitzpatrick won't stop Washington from still trying to trade for New York Jets passer Sam Darnold.

"Fitzpatrick’s a good leader, he’s a smart quarterback, he’s good in the quarterback room, at least now even though, again, it doesn’t rule out the possibility that maybe they trade for Sam Darnold," Clayton said. "But at least you know they have a starting quarterback."

While it might seem far-fetched, Clayton has a point. Fitzpatrick turns 39 in November. Both he and Washington know that he's not the team's long-term answer.

Darnold, on the other hand, is still just 23 years old. The 2018 third overall pick has had his struggles with the Jets, too, but Darnold also offers perhaps more upside than any other signal-caller in Washington's QB room.

There are also question marks surrounding Washington's two other quarterbacks under contract, Kyle Allen and Taylor Heinicke, who have a combined 19 career starts to their names.

For Allen, who is back in Washington with a salary of $850,000, the Burgundy and Gold could move on from him at minimal cost should they add another passer.

And for Heinicke, while he did impress in Washington's playoff loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, there are still plenty of questions about whether he can be an NFL quarterback long term.

"If you can get a good deal for Sam Darnold, you can do it," Clayton said. "I mean this is a one-year deal at $10 million [for Fitzpatrick]."

It is worth noting that ESPN reporter Dianna Russini doesn't think Washington will be in the market for Darnold at all after adding Fitzpatrick and she cited an anonymous source inside the organization.

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Even if Washington doesn't trade for Darnold, Clayton thinks Washington could still consider drafting a quarterback in the first round. At pick No. 19, it'll likely be hard for them to nab the passer they want - the Patriots are in that market, too, and pick at No. 15 in case one of the top-tier options slide in a deep QB class. But Clayton is not ready to rule out that possibility.

As of now, the plan is for all three of Washington's quarterbacks to compete for the starting job with Fitzpatrick the obvious favorite to win the job outright. If Washington does enter training camp with the trio of Fitzpatrick, Heinicke and Allen under center, Clayton thinks the longtime veteran will be the team's starter in Week 1.

"I would say I don’t think there’s any question that he’ll end up with the starting job unless they bring somebody else in," Clayton said. "He’s got, obviously, much more experience than Taylor Heinicke. He’s shown that he can do some good things still. He can even move reasonably well for his age, which isn’t bad. So you put all that together, I think it’s going to be hard for Heinicke to be able to beat him out."