With the 2021 regular season complete, let’s look at what the Washington Football Team needs to address in the offseason. Washington finished the regular season third in the NFC East with a 7-10 record. The team also extended a 30-year streak of failing to reach the postseason in consecutive seasons. The last time Washington made consecutive playoff appearances was in 1990, 1991, and 1992.
The Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles rebounded from disappointing 2020 campaigns to finish first and second in the division. Heading into Week 14, Washington was still in contention to win the NFC East. However, Washington ended the season losing four out of five games. The team lost both of their matchups against the Cowboys and Eagles during that stretch.
For Washington to win the NFC East and compete with the elite teams in the league in 2022, Head Coach Ron Rivera and the Washington front office need to address some critical positions in the offseason.
Washington Football Team Offseason Needs
Offseason Need: Terry McLaurin Contract Extension
Signing wide receiver Terry McLaurin to a contract extension needs to be a priority for Washington in the offseason. McLaurin is entering the final year of a four-year, $3,847,671 deal that will make him an unrestricted free agent in 2023. Arguably Washington’s best player, McLaurin had another solid season for the burgundy and gold. McLaurin led the team in receiving yards (1053), receptions (77), and receiving touchdowns (5). He also was the first Washington wide receiver to have consecutive seasons with 1,000 receiving yards since Henry Ellard in 1994, 1995, and 1996.
Some did not view McLaurin as a number one wide receiver when he was a third-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Through his play over the last three seasons, McLaurin has established himself as the number one receiver and one of the best receivers in the league.
Terry McLaurin reached 1,000 yards on the season with this play. pic.twitter.com/TdRPhsBrq3
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) January 9, 2022
Offseason Need: Address the Linebacker Position
Washington has to address their plans at linebacker in the offseason. Washington linebacker Jon Bostic who went down with a pectoral injury following Week 4, is an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Also, linebacker David Mayo will be an unrestricted free agent. Mayo played the mike linebacker role near the end of the season, allowing Cole Holcomb to move back outside. How the coaching staff’s plans to utilize Jamin Davis in his second year will indeed play into who they bring in, assuming that Bostic and Mayo are not resigned.
A strong foundation, relentless passion and hunger for greatness helped get Jamin Davis to the NFL.
But he's not even close to being content.
𝐈𝐭 𝐒𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐬 𝐇𝐞𝐫𝐞 | 𝐄𝐩. 𝟏 pic.twitter.com/TOtrkCoYMR
— Washington Football Team (@WashingtonNFL) September 8, 2021
Offseason Need: A Quarterback
While Taylor Heinicke actualized his dream of being an NFL starting quarterback, it is clear that the quarterback position still needs to be addressed in Washington. This season, Heinicke started 15 out of 17 games for Washington after quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was injured in Week 1. Washington attempted to address the quarterback room last offseason signing Fitzpatrick to a one-year deal. However, a hip injury may have ended Fitzpatrick’s time in Washington.
Heinicke showed glimpses of the style of play that endeared him to the coaching staff and fans during the 2020 Wild Card game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He finished the season with 3419 passing yards, 20 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, and a 65 percent completion percentage. Heinicke also showed inconsistency as a passer and decision-maker.
Washington’s record with Heinicke as the starter was 7-8 this season. In Washington’s eight losses, Heinicke threw seven touchdowns to 12 interceptions. In the seven wins, Heinicke threw 13 touchdowns to three interceptions. Heinicke’s inconsistent performance this season has opened the door for Washington to continue searching for a quarterback in the offseason.
No clue what Washington sees in Taylor Heinicke as a QB pic.twitter.com/o8yK01ZPzG
— michael (@esquiremichael1) January 9, 2022
Rivera in Year Three
In Rivera’s first two years as the head coach of the Carolina Panthers, his teams went 6-10 and 7-9, respectively. In Rivera’s third season, the Panthers went 12-4. If Washington can address their offseason needs, this team has an opportunity to make the same leap Rivera’s Panthers team made in year three.
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