Washington missed out on Stafford, but should still target his former top WR

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Ethan Cadeaux
·4 min read
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WFT missed out on Stafford, but should still target his ex-No. 1 WR originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

One of the top options at quarterback for the Washington Football Team came off the board this past Saturday, as the Detroit Lions traded longtime starter Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams for Jared Goff and draft picks.

Stafford was considered a realistic option for Washington to upgrade at the position, and the Football Team was reportedly engaged in trade talks with the Lions before Detroit ultimately accepted LA's offer.

The search for a franchise quarterback goes on for Washington, but QB is far from the club's only positional need. Regardless of how the quarterback position shakes out, finding another wide receiver to pair opposite of rising star Terry McLaurin is a necessity this offseason.

And, although Washington missed out on landing Stafford, they should definitely make a run in free agency at his former top target: Detroit wideout Kenny Golladay.

Golladay only played in five games this past season due to injury but will be one of the hottest commodities on the free-agent market come March. Prior to his injury-riddled campaign in 2020, Golladay turned in back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and led the NFL in touchdown receptions in 2019, a year when Stafford only played in eight games.

Simply put, Golladay is a stud. And if he does hit the open market -- something that looks more likely after Detroit parted with Stafford -- he'll have several suitors.

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In Washington, Golladay would not only fill a much-needed hole, but is the perfect candidate to take the offense to another level.

In 2020, Scott Turner's offense lacked big plays. McLaurin made a living picking up yards after the catch, but the team didn't have a true vertical threat to take the top off opposing defenses.

That's exactly what Golladay would bring.

During his last fully healthy season in 2019, 628 of Golladay's 1,190 receiving yards came on plays of over 20-plus yard passes. That mark was the second-most of any receiver in the NFL that year.

That's not it, either. Both Golladay's yards per reception (18.6) and yards before reception (13.6) marks were the third-highest in the NFL in 2019.

Golladay makes a living making plays down the field, something Washington could certainly use a lot more of if they hope to take their offense to greater heights.

As far as his potential contract, Golladay will command big money this offseason, and deservedly so. For a general ballpark on what a Golladay deal might look like, Pro Football Focus predicts the 27-year-old to land a four-year, $85 million deal ($21.25 million per year) with $37.5 million fully guaranteed.

While that number is high, it should not scare Washington fans for two reasons.

For starters, Rivera offered Amari Cooper a five-year deal worth more than $100 million this past offseason, a deal that would be similar on a per-year basis to what Golladay will likely command. While Cooper chose to stay in Dallas, Rivera and his staff know the team needs to upgrade at the position, and they're willing to spend big money to address it.

Golladay is arguably as good of a receiver as Cooper is, too, as the two put up nearly identical numbers in 2018 and 2019, with the Lions pass-catcher finishing with more total touchdowns.

Secondly, Washington has the seventh-most cap space in the NFL, per Spotrac. Spending big money on Golladay wouldn't prohibit them from making other moves in free agency to fill other needs, such as linebacker and cornerback, among others.

Also, the free agency class of wide receivers is loaded. Besides Golladay, several former Pro Bowlers -- Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin, JuJu Smith-Schuster, to name a few -- are all expected to hit the open market this offseason. The supply of talented wideouts in free agency is high, while the demand for them across the league isn't as much as it has been in recent memory.

Overall, it's obvious that Washington needs to upgrade at quarterback this offseason. But, whoever the signal-caller of the future ends up being will need wide receivers to throw to, and arguably no pass-catchers out there -- draft or free agency -- make more sense than Golladay.