In the case of the Dak contract, it was the best option imo. I know that some will say "Keep Dalton". However, here are the problems with that. Firstly, if you do that, then we would have to also draft a QB to groom because Dalton also had injury issues and it’s smart to have a rookie learn from a veteran QB. Sort of like what teams would do with Ryan Fitzpatrick. Additionally, it was a well known fact that the QBs in the 2022 draft were going to be atrocious. So, your only choice is to take a QB in 2021. However, that generates one huge problem. The defence was an absolute nightmare in 2020 leading up to the contract. That had to be fixed. No getting around that. Micah Parsons, though his play has dropped a bit (I suspect due to injury) the last few weeks, has been an impactful player (and had a big impact in the Eagles game, I might add). We needed Parsons. Let’s assume instead that we took Fields. Firstly, he was raw his rookie season, so you get no immediate impact. You’d still have a defence that would become likely even worse the following season.
So, the defence needed some impactful player to stop the bleeding and help get it to a level where it was not a complete mess. If the FO went one more season without addressing defence, then I think the defence would’ve been in a spot where I’m not sure it’d be fixable in any reasonable period of time.
By keeping Dak, it bought us time to try to fix the defence. So far, I’d say it’s much better, even factoring in the last few weeks, than it’s been in quite some time. Not to mention that they were a huge reason we won our first 5 games under Rush (who played brilliantly as well, given the circumstances). So, I can understand why they’d be exhausted at this point considering how much they were used early in the season.
Secondly, it’d create an issue where we’d potentially have a coaching crisis. Jerry wants to win as soon as possible. Mike McCarthy is on a short leash. However, there are only so many coaches that would want to coach for Jerry. If we had gone with the Andy Dalton idea, chances are, we would have a disastrous season again in 2021. If you look at the schedule, I don’t think we win more than 8-9 games without Dak that year. Especially with how well he played early in that season. So, let’s say we go 7-10 that season (considering we went 6-10 the previous season). Chances are, Jerry sacks Mike McCarthy after two years. Sure, we have a high draft pick, but now we are looking at a new coach. So, the rookie that we’d have to have drafted to groom under Dalton would have to learn another system. Bad move there because he has completely wasted his rookie season, and we wasted a draft pick. Oh, and the defence would be deteriorating, so you’d be hoping that he is somehow able to keep the team afloat while the defence deteriorates, and you’re forced to draft a player on defence that is not the generational talent that is Micah Parsons. Oh, and the Saints, if we are trying to go for Payton, want at least a first. Oops, now you don’t have a first round pick because you went for Payton, and your oline is falling apart as is the defence. Oh, and Payton may say screw it after one season with how the team looks and is dealing with Jerry. I think you can all see logically where this goes. Disaster after disaster, and we turn into a worse mess than the Denver Broncos that not even Belichick would be able to pull us out of.
Contrast that with signing Dak, we were able to try to stabilise the defence. We were able to get Tyler Smith to try to patch up the oline. Now we are in a position to where, if we’d like, the QB class is looking better for the 2023 draft. Chances are, even if we don’t go QB round 1, the pickings for round 2 should be significantly improved.
So, now we come to where I think that we should go from here. Firstly, Mike should stay. He’s done well considering the circumstances of having Rush play as well as he has. He’s kept this team together. He’s been dealing with Jerry better than most coaches could. Oh, and he’s not much different than Payton is. So, we keep building with Mike. Oh, and he’s also good with QBs, as is evidenced by Rodgers and Rush. So, you let him play the rest of his contract out, of which he’s got a minimum of two years (and I’d argue perhaps give him another year or two extension with what I’m thinking).
Then, in the first three rounds, you draft a QB. This 1. Gives you serious competition for Dak and 2. Gives you a chance to groom a QB for two seasons before you have to make a decision on Dak, whose contract ends in two seasons. Comparatively, Mike had Favre starting ahead of Rodgers when he took over in 2006, and then, by 2008, Rodgers was starting, so it’d also follow that track record. In the meantime, you have a scenario where Dak is starting and a young apprentice waiting in the wings. In the meantime, you can use that to your advantage by building a team that can be ready with a solid oline and a nice defence by the time you have to decide if you’re keeping Dak, keeping the apprentice, or are you possibly trading the apprentice to try to get a top pick in the draft if you see an improvement in that scenario. In other words, now you take a QB in the 2023 draft to give you a ton of flexibility.
Oh, and it gives one more area of flexibility. If you decide that you’re not keeping Dak, then you can use the fact that you have a successor to Dak in the wings on a rookie contract to start using the FA market knowing that Dak is going to be a FA in 2025. So, you can make the team even better for when the apprentice becomes the starter.
In short (cliff notes version for those wanting those), the Dak contract had to be done to save the team from becoming worse than the Broncos, and it gives us flexibility now to take a QB to follow a path that worked for Mike in Green Bay. It gives us the flexibility to get a QB that can potentially succeed Dak in two years while being able to use the apprentice to your advantage.
This is why I think Dak had to be extended, and why now is the time to take a QB in the draft.