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The entire state of the NFC East could look very different if Washington hadn’t won it in 2020

The NFL can change quickly.

NFL: JAN 03 Washington Football Team at Eagles Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 2021 NFL Draft is in the books and time will tell what the results have in store for each team in the National Football League. Our primary concern here is what is going to happen to the Dallas Cowboys and the immediate universe that they live in, the NFC East.

Every week Brandon Lee Gowton from Bleeding Green Nation and myself release a show on both theirs and the Blogging The Boys’ podcast feeds that discusses the NFC East as a whole. It is appropriately titled the NFC East Mixtape. Subscribe to the BTB feed on Apple devices right here or on Spotify right here. You can listen to this week’s episode where we recap the division’s draft classes below.

BLG and I each assigned grades to all NFC East draft classes and my lowest one was to the Washington Football Team. While you can look at the players they selected as fine prospects, the most hard-to-miss thing is that they did not come away from the draft with a quarterback of the future.

Washington seems to be banking on Ryan Fitzpatrick for 2021 which is a skeptical decision at best. Through our conversation BLG and I uncovered an interesting hypothetical that surrounded the way this past season ended.

The entire state of the NFC East could look very different if Washington hadn’t won it in 2020

You will recall that on the Sunday of Week 17 the winner between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants would win the NFC East if the Philadelphia Eagles would have been successful in defeating the Washington Football Team during the final game of the regular season. New York won and the Eagles tanked their game to earn themselves a better draft pick which they wound up turning into more draft capital by moving from number 6 to 12 before jumping up to 10 with the Cowboys.

What if Philadelphia hadn’t done that and had gone on to win? What if Washington lost is really the point. The New York Giants would have been the NFC East champions and therefore would have been around the 19th overall pick last week where Washington was while the Football Team would have been around 11 where New York sat.

The reason that this is particularly interesting is that the 11th overall pick was where the final notable quarterback of the first round wound up going, no disrespect to Mac Jones but draft minds are not high on him, granted not to the Giants. The Chicago Bears traded up with New York to land Ohio State’s Justin Fields. Imagine if Washington had been sitting in that spot as opposed to New York.

You can unpack this a number of ways, but the immediate ones are these:

  • Washington would have been in prime position to land Fields themselves as they need a quarterback of the future. It is possible they didn’t feel comfortable paying what Chicago did to move up to 11 last week or that the Giants didn’t want to send a quarterback to a division rival.
  • New York would not have been able to trade out of 11 with Chicago as they wouldn’t have been there in the first place. They likely would have still wound up with Florida’s Kadarius Toney who they took at 20 with the trade that they made with Chicago, but they wouldn’t have the Bears’ first-round pick next year.
  • Dallas could have been the team that Chicago wanted to beat and therefore made the huge offer towards. As it stands in actuality some fans are upset that the Cowboys moved back from 10 to 12 for only a third-round pick while the Giants picked up a future first-rounder to move back from 11 to 20, but if Washington was sitting at 11 then it makes sense that Chicago could have jumped up with the Cowboys to try and land Fields since we now know that they highly coveted him. Perhaps then Washington would have settled for Mac Jones and then New England would be the team without a rookie quarterback.

If we play all of this out then it is unlikely that the Cowboys would have landed Micah Parsons at 20 overall, perhaps Parsons would have even gone to Washington as they ultimately took Kentucky’s Jamin Davis (assuming they didn’t take Mac). Dallas’ entire draft would have likely looked different with them picking at 20 after a trade with Chicago, maybe they would have taken somebody like Greg Newsome II and worked around that for the rest of the weekend.

Ultimately this is all a game of if, but it is a fascinating one at that. The trigger point for it all can somewhat be traced back to Washington winning the division which was aided by Philadelphia throwing the final game of the season.

Many people often want to see their teams tank if a season is gone so that they can put themselves in a better position to acquire talent. It seems somewhat fair to believe that by winning the NFC East the Washington Football Team may have costed themselves a true opportunity at a future quarterback in someone like Justin Fields.

Hopefully they think it was worth it.