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Are the Redskins in need of young wide receivers?


Are the Redskins in need of young wide receivers?

Over the next few weeks, Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will grade each position group’s performance in 2015, break down the current personnel situation and evaluate the unit's outlook for 2016. Previously, we took a look at the defensive line, offensive tackles, interior offensive line, and tight ends. Today, wide receivers are up.

Wide receiver

Grade: B-

2015 starters: Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson, Jamison Crowder (slot)

Backups: Rashad Ross, Ryan Grant, Andre Roberts

Free agents: None

Rewind: Garçon was second on the team to TE Jordan Reed in targets (111), receptions (72), receiving yards (777), and receiving touchdowns (6). He made some clutch catches, including one for the game-wining touchdown in the last minute against the Eagles in Week 4. He was the steady member of the receiver corps; Garçon had no fewer than three receptions in any game and never more than seven.

In contrast, Jackson was very inconsistent. Health was an issue. He missed most of training camp and all of the preseason games with a shoulder injury. Then just 13 snaps into the season he pulled a hamstring and he was sidelined for the next six games. Jackson did provide a spark when he returned, averaging 17.6 yards on his 30 receptions. It wasn’t purely a coincidence that Kirk Cousins started on the remarkable stretch that carried him to his $20 million payday when Jackson returned to the lineup.

Crowder had a solid first season, breaking the Redskins rookie record with 59 receptions. He took the slot position away from Roberts, who was targeted just 21 times in a season that saw him listed as a healthy inactive on occasion and that ended with him on injured reserve. Grant started while Jackson was out but his production was disappointing. Ross got some opportunities to show off his impressive speed but he remains a project.

Fast forward: There are big changes coming to this unit but they many not come until 2017. One change that is likely to happen in the first few days is Roberts getting released. His cap charge is $5 million and the Redskins will save $3 million against the cap by releasing him.

There has been plenty of speculation that Jackson and/or Garçon might be candidates to be released. Both will be 30 this year, both are going into the final years of their contracts, and they count over $19 million against the salary cap combined. But Jay Gruden said at the combine that both receivers are in the Redskins’ plans for 2016.

If both are in the fold this year the Redskins will still have to do some succession planning at the position. It’s nearly certain that one or both will be gone next year. It would not be surprising to see them draft a wide receiver fairly early.

Gruden likes Grant a lot. “I feel really strongly about Ryan Grant,” he said at the combine. “I think he’s an excellent receiver just waiting for his opportunity to be a starter.”

At least at this point Grant doesn’t look like a starter but he will certainly be on the roster despite being targeted 42 times and making only 23 catches in 16 games.

Ross’ speed will earn him another chance but he needs to make more progress when it comes to making the transition from being a fast guy to being a speedy, skilled wide receiver if he is going to be a lock to be on the roster in September. 

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Need to Know: Looking ahead—Key Redskins 2019 free agents

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Need to Know: Looking ahead—Key Redskins 2019 free agents

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, March 18, 39 days before the NFL draft.  

Looking at next year’s free agents

There is still work that the Redskins can do in free agency and they still have some of their own players they want to retain. But with a lot of the player movement already in the books, we can take a look forward some of the key Redskin who currently are set to be free agents when the 2019 league year opens.

Note: I’m not including Brandon Scherff here because the team has a fifth-year option on him that they surely will activate before the May 2 deadline.

QB Colt McCoy (Week 1 age 32)—Lots of questions here. Will the Redskins want to keep him around for another year as Alex Smith’s backup? Or will they want a younger and cheaper backup? Will McCoy want to move on rather than back up another QB who doesn’t miss many games?

OL Ty Nsekhe (32)—The Redskins gave him a second-round restricted free agent tender this year so it’s possible that he could be gone or on a long-term contract in Washington. If he is a free agent, his value and the difficulty of retaining him could depend on if he ends the season as a reserve tackle (easy) or as a starting guard (hard).

OLB Preston Smith (25)—As we saw with Trent Murphy (three years, $21 million with up to $30 million), pass rushers get paid. Smith also makes big plays. Since Smith came into the NFL, he is the only player with at least 20 sacks, 3 interceptions, and 4 forced fumbles. If the Redskins can’t reach a deal on an extension with him this year the franchise tag is a distinct possibility.

WR Jamison Crowder (25)—This year the supply of quality receivers both as free agents and in the draft sent contract prices skyrocketing. To guard against that happening next year, the Redskin should start talking to Crowder about an extension soon.

ILB Zach Vigil (27)—As I noted here, Vigil went from being cut in September to a very valuable reserve in November. Both Zach Brown and Mason Foster will still be under contract, but the Redskin still should make an effort to retain Vigil for special teams and as a capable backup.

Other Redskins who are slated to be UFA’s next year are DL Ziggy Hood and ILB Martrell Spaight.

It’s also worth noting that WR Maurice Harris and DE Anthony Lanier will both be restricted free agents next year. Both positions were pricey in free agency this year, so both could require at least second-round tenders, which likely will increase to about $3 million in 2019.

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

Tandler on Twitter

Regarding the reported visit of defensive lineman Jonathan Hankins with the Redskins:


Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 29
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 131
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 175

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Scandrick, Hankins both visiting with Redskins soon


Scandrick, Hankins both visiting with Redskins soon

The Redskins will be taking visits from two former NFC East foes in the next few days.

Former Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick will visit Redskins Park on Monday. Scandrick, 31, has been with Dallas since them made him a fifth-round pick in the 2008 draft. He has eight career interceptions and seven forced fumbles.

The Cowboys released Scandrick on Friday in a salary cap move. The Redskins would be attracted to Scandrick’s versatility. He can play either side at corner and, of particular interest to the Redskins, in the slot. That is a position of concern for Washington since they traded Kendall Fuller to the Chiefs as part of the deal for quarterback Alex Smith.

The Redskins have been trying to get former Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to sign for the past several days, but they can’t come together on money. Scandrick could be a fallback if they need one.

The other visitor will be former Giants defensive lineman Jonathan Hankins, per John Keim of ESPN. Hankins, 25, was a second-round draft pick and played his first four years in New York. Last year he moved on to the Colts as a free agent. They are changing their defense and decided to release Hankins after paying him $10 million last year.

Hankins could bolster a defensive line that still needs young talent. It’s not known if he would be considered a nose tackle in the Redskins’ scheme. The Giants ran a 4-3 defense and in the Colts’ 3-4 he was used as an end.

The Redskins had former Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson in for a visit earlier this week, but he decided to sign with the Packers.


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