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Need to Know: Free agency shuffles the Redskins' WR depth chart

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Need to Know: Free agency shuffles the Redskins' WR depth chart

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, March 15, 43 days before the NFL draft.  

Free agency shuffles Redskins WR depth chart

The Redskins added to and subtracted from their wide receiver depth chart over the past few days. The end result left more questions than answers.

The addition was former Seahawks receiver Paul Richardson. He is seen as an ascending player, coming off of a career-best year when he caught 44 passes for 703 yards and six touchdowns. His yardage and touchdown totals last year exceeded his totals from his first three years in the league combined.

The subtraction via free agency was Ryan Grant. The Redskins wanted to keep him around but the deal he took with the Ravens, reported to be $29 million over four years with $13 million guaranteed, was way too rich for the fourth receiver role the Redskins had planned for him.

They also re-signed Brian Quick, a veteran who was rarely used last year, getting targeted nine times in 10 games. He did make a key catch in the Redskins’ win over the Seahawks but that’s about it for his season highlight reel.

Richardson filled one hole, giving them a starter to line up opposite Josh Doctson with Jamison Crowder remaining in the slot. You can say that the Redskins still lack a true No. 1 receiver and you’d be right. Either Doctson, the team’s 2016 first-round pick, will develop into that No. 1 role or they will not have anyone in that role. That’s not the end of the world; there are far fewer No. 1 receivers out there than there are NFL teams. An offense can function without one.

What is now behind the three starters is an area of major concern in Ashburn. If the season started today the backup receivers would be Quick, Maurice Harris and Robert Davis. As noted, Quick played sparingly last year (77 snaps). He is a veteran, going into his seventh year in the league. Quick played in 67 games in five seasons with the Rams after they made him a second-round pick in the 2012 draft.

Harris started last year on the practice squad and the first time he was targeted he made one of the most spectacular catches of the year against the Vikings. But he largely disappeared after that, playing just 76 snaps. After that 36-yard TD catch against Minnesota in Week 10, he caught three passes for 26 yards. In 10 games in 2016 he caught eight passes for 66 yards.

As light as Harris’ experience is, he is a grizzled veteran compared to Davis, who did not get an offensive snap as a sixth-round rookie last year. The team likes his size (6-3, 219) and hands but they weren’t impressed with him enough to give him a spot on the 53-man roster at the start of the season. He spent most of the year on the practice squad before being brought up to the main roster late in the year.

It seems unlikely that the Redskins will go into the season with just Quick, Davis and Harris as their backup receivers. They at least need to bring in some camp competition. Perhaps an experienced free agent addition will come in the next few weeks. Someone like former Bronco, Jet, and Titans receiver Eric Decker, who is 31 and coming off of a season where he had production similar to Grant’s. might be a good option.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Timeline  

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 32
—NFL Draft (4/26) 42
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 178

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Redskins make it official: Alex Smith headed to Washington

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Grant reportedly headed to the Ravens

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In talking 2018 NFL draft, Doug Williams actually explained Redskins' free agency

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In talking 2018 NFL draft, Doug Williams actually explained Redskins' free agency

The Redskins spent modestly in 2018 free agency, and plenty of fans thought the team should have shelled out much bigger bucks. Talking with sources around the Ashburn facility, a prevaling notion became clear that the Washington brass believed they had a strong team in 2017, but they lost their chance to compete because of injuries. 

Well, the secret is out. Doug Williams said as much on Tuesday. 

"Coming out of Richmond last year, I liked this football team. I think we’ve got a tough football team, a smart football team. Some things you can’t control," Williams said Tuesday in a pre-draft media session. "We were very competitive up to a certain point, and when you have the injuries that we have, at a certain point, that competitive edge, you lose it because your best players are not playing."

Williams' words were true, and telling. 

First the true part:

  • In Washington's first five games of 2017, the team went 3-2. The Redskins only lost to eventual the Super Bowl champs Philadelphia and AFC West champs Kansas City. Washington only gave up more than 100 yards rushing once in those first five games, before rookie Jonathan Allen got hurt and the defense began to look much different. After Week 5, the Redskins only held one team under 100 yards rushing and finished the year dead last in rush defense.

Now the telling part:

  • The Redskins signed free agent WR Paul Richardson, and kept free agent LB Zach Brown. Beyond that, the team added inexpensive veterans in OLB Pernell McPhee and CB Orlando Scandrick. No splash moves, and recurring speculation that Washington was not offering top dollar to free agents. Bruce Allen acknowledged as much during NFL League Meetings when he explained that his team identified exactly how much they would offer free agents, their own and otherwise, and wouldn't go beyond that dollar figure. 

That means the focus of the offseason, at this point, is about this weekend's NFL Draft.

That also means the focus of the offseason, at this point, is not about Johnathan Hankins or any other free agent. 

"We’re going to deal with the draft now, and the second wave of free agents, if it’s somebody out there we feel like can help the Redskins,that’s what we’re going to do," Williams said. 

Throughout the offseason, Redskins fans wanted more action from their front office. It didn't happen, and Williams' basically explained why on Tuesday. The brass likes their team, and by default, expects better health and luck in 2018. 

When Williams talks about drafting the best player available, it's not just the typical NFL front office tripe. Right or wrong, the Redskins believe they have a team ready to compete in 2018, and any rookies that come in will only supplement that position.

"At the end of the day, I like this football team we’ve got. Like, last year when I walked out of camp, I thought we had a pretty good football team and I still feel the same way today," Williams said.

"At the end of the day, you get the best football player, and if that best football player is the guy that you want to plug and play, that’s all right. But if that’s the best football player that’s going to help your team overall, I think that’s the route you have to go."

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Doug Williams says Redskins will listen to draft trade offers but a trade up is unlikely

Doug Williams says Redskins will listen to draft trade offers but a trade up is unlikely

The Redskins aren’t in the quarterback business, so it’s highly unlikely that they will look to trade up in the first round of the draft on Thursday. But their phones will be open for business to move down. 

Speaking at the team’s pre-draft press conference, Doug Williams didn’t rule out trading up from the team’s first-round spot at 13thoverall but he doesn’t think it’s likely. 

“The chances of trading up might be a little slimmer than trading down,” he said. 

Williams said that the phones in the room will be ringing and that they will listen to any offers. But usually the team that wants to move up initiates the call and because the Redskins are set at one particular position they probably won’t pick up the phone. 

“If we were in the quarterback business, which is what this league is about, if we were in the heavy quarterback business we’d talk about moving up,” he said. “At this time, we can sit back and see what comes up if we stay at 13.”

The Redskins are set at quarterback after they traded their third-round pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller for veteran Alex Smith to replace the departed Kirk Cousins. Williams thinks that the Redskins already got good value from the pick. 

“When I think about Alex Smith, I say we got the best third-round pick in the draft,” he said. “I don't care what nobody says. You can't get a better third-round pick.”

Because they think they got a good player, albeit an older one, with that pick, the Redskins are not necessarily looking to make a deal to move back and recoup that pick on draft day. 

Williams emphasized that in order to move back, you have to have a team that wants to trade up. Often that is easier said than done. 

“They don’t just call you to ask you, they have to get a player that they want,” said Williams. “At that particular time, they’re afraid that somebody else might pick him. They might call you to ask you if you want to move back . . . If we move back, that’s because somebody called us to see if we want to move back.”

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.