Jason Campbell is playing in the final year of his rookie contract. The Washington Redskins have done everything short of cutting him. They paid big to trade up for him in 2005, trading a first, third and fourth round pick to Denver to move back into the first round. Washington has expressed their buyer's remorse with benchings and rumors. Daniel Snyder made no bones about his interest in Jay Cutler and Mark Sanchez. He missed out, and now Campbell is the Redskins starter by default.
He won't be next year. If Campbell plays poorly or only average to good, Washington will not re-sign him. If he plays well, the perennially cash-strapped but prodigal Redkins will not be able to sign him. He could just say no. Franchising Campbell would cost $15 million or more. Snyder could advantage the uncapped year and throw money at the situation, as he's wont to do, but even that seems like grasping at straws. Snyder has waged an ongoing campaign to disarm and discredit Campbell, and pitted the two in a way that doesn't speak of a long-term contract.
Do you care? Should you care? For almost two years, since around the time Campbell was benched for Todd Collins - Campbell had been injured and Collins had the hot hand - I have been convinced Tim Ruskell would sign Campbell. He imported half of Auburn's 2004 roster and its two best receivers. He is known for his conservative drafting and aversion to spending high picks on quarterbacks. He was part of Buccaneers organization that signed 33-year old retread Brad Johnson in 2003 and watched Johnson lead Tampa to a Super Bowl victory in 2004. And Tim Ruskell is known for finding undervalued assets.
Campbell is not a great quarterback. His three years starting have been remarkably similar. He had 5.5 A/NYA in 2006, 5.3 in 2007, 5.5 in 2008 and 5.4 for his career. Skin lines have been adequate to bad, as has their skill position players, and as ever, in Washington there are the starters and behind them, the fastest dude at the College Park Home Depot. Or fattest, if we're talking defensive line.
When Washington traded up to draft him in 2005, it was the Darius Heyward-Bay move of that draft. Analysts were split between thinking they overpaid and wondering how long until Campbell was cut. Campbell has won supporters and lost them. He has gained critics and rewarded them. He shares apologist with Alex Smith and that's never good. The Lewin Projection System loved him and Football Outsiders with it. Pro Football Reference ranked him 13th in future quarterback value and put him in the "You like what you've got" tier. Brian Burke theorized Campbell was hurt by Jim Zorn's overly conservative play calling and that Campbell would benefit from throwing more interceptions. That is, more interceptions in the effort to convert more first downs.
Me? Well I don't know. I haven't studied Campbell enough to guess at his potential. I've always been impressed with him, but however you spin it, his career so far has been very mediocre. Deferring to the power of draft position: Campbell was a late first round pick in a weak quarterback class, and a late first round pick many thought should have been a second round pick or later. His career path for that kind of pick has been ordinary.
The Seahawks could be clearing payroll this offseason. The future of Walter Jones and Matt Hasselbeck is to be decided, but neither is long for Seattle. If the Seahawks go another way, if Tim Ruskell still has the say, then Jason Campbell could be Seattle's quarterback of the future. A future, fans can watch today.