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Need to Know: Why did the Redskins wait to release Roberts?

Need to Know: Why did the Redskins wait to release Roberts?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, May 18, six days before the Washington Redskins start OTAs.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 129 days ago. It will be 117 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: OTAs start 76; Redskins training camp starts 71; Preseason opener @ Falcons 85

The big story—Roberts released

Redskins fans don’t agree on much. But they all agreed that they wanted Andre Roberts to be gone. And on Tuesday they all got their one, unifying wish.

Why did the Redskins wait to release him when it was obvious that he wasn’t in the team’s plans for quite some time? According to Adam Caplan of ESPN the Redskins were trying to trade him. Even though the asking price likely was quite low—something like a swap of sixth- and seventh-round picks possibly would have done it—there were no takers. With his contract calling for him to make $4 million in each of the next two years, that’s not surprising. Often teams might be interested in dealing for a player but will have no interest in trading for his contract.

It was a similar situation to what we saw with Robert Griffin III over the month of February. It seemed inevitable that he was going to be released but the Redskins held on to him in hopes that a team would call and want to make a deal for Griffin and his $16 million contract. They knew the odds were long but it didn’t cost them anything to hang on to Griffin just in case one of 31 GM’s out there lost his mind.

His departure doesn’t rattle the depth chart at all. Jamison Crowder’s play at slot receiver sent Roberts to the sideline long before a knee injury did. After they drafted Josh Doctson they had him and six returning receivers on the roster. The team usually carries six receivers on the 53-man roster and Roberts was the odd man out.

So why did the Redskins sign Roberts to being with? In 2013 they had Pierre Garçon coming off of a season where he caught a team-record 113 passes. That was good and bad. Good because it meant that Garçon was a reliable target but bad because it indicated a lack of alternatives. The 35-year-old Santana Moss was second in receptions among wide receivers with 45. Josh Morgan started seven games and caught 30 passes, Leonard Hankerson started seven and caught just 20 passes. They decided they needed a solid No. 2 receiver.

The Redskins didn’t have a first-round draft pick due to the Griffin trade so they went to free agency in their first and only year with Bruce Allen in charge of personnel. Before free agency actually opened, they agreed to a deal with Roberts, who was coming off of a down season in Arizona. The contract, which was for $16 million over four years with $8 million guaranteed, looked like one that was agreed to without much negotiation.

We’ll never really know if Roberts would have lived up to the contract because less than a month after he signed the Eagles released DeSean Jackson and the Redskins moved swiftly to bring him to Washington.

That deprived Roberts of his chance to be the No. 2 receiver. But he did get to play in the slot and that got him 721 snaps. He turned that opportunity into a paltry 36 pass receptions.

The Redskins may have moved on from him a year ago but his $2.75 million salary was guaranteed and that plus the $3 million proration left on his signing bonus made the dead cap hit prohibitive.

Update: Per the NFL transaction report the Redskins did not designate Roberts' termination as a post-June 1 move. That means that the Redskins save $3 million off of the cap after accounting for $2 million in dead cap. They will not be charged any thing for Roberts' contract in 2017.

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

For years, the Redskins struggle with their home field as the fall turns to winter. It's been happening so long it's become an expected passing of the seasons, like the transition from Halloween jack-o-lanterns to Christmas lights dotting people's front yards. 

Well, on Thanksgiving night, the turf at FedEx Field again showed how bad it can be. On a second half interception returned for a New York Giants touchdown, replay showed that Kirk Cousins' foot got stuck on the dirt, and it played a role in his sailing a ball to the sideline. The bad turf was not the only reason for the interception, but it was definitely a reason. 

Beyond the pick, the field was just ugly. Twitter blew up making fun of the Redskins home grass, and the national broadcast showed just how unsightly the long brown patch between the hash marks looked. 

On Friday, the normally diplomatic Cousins opened up about the grass.

"It probably doesn't look like a professional NFL field should," the quarterback said on 106.7 the Fan (full audio here). "If you think the field is rough now on Thanksgiving, we've got two more home games in mid-to-late December. That's probably going to be a bigger challenge."

Asked about the field's impact on the interception on Thursday night, Cousins ignored it. But plenty of other players have suggested the field is a known problem in the second half, and something they just must deal with. 

"I don't know why it is that way or what causes it," Cousins said. "I've kind of learned to accept it and understand it's part of the deal. Playing here on the field has never been that great in the second half of the season for whatever the reason."

[h/t @BenStandig for the Cousins quotes]

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

 

 

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When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

At halftime of the Redskins’ Thanksgiving night game against the Giants, Samaje Perine had three yards rushing and his team had three points. Washington had racked up all of 113 yards.

Coincidence? Not entirely. Although the Redskins are primarily a passing team they need to run the ball to pass effectively.

“We had to get the running game going,” said Jay Gruden after the game.

In the second half, Perine and the offense did get it going. Perine ran for 97 yards and Redskins put up 210 yards and 17 points. It’s safe to say that it wasn’t a coincidence.

The Redskins didn’t make any halftime adjustments to get the ground game in gear.

“We just had to stay the course,” said Perine. “We knew they were going to come out fired up, they just came off a big win. We just had to stay the course and then things started going our way.”

MORE REDSKINS: MUST-SEE PHOTOS OF THE WIN

Perine was more steady than spectacular. His longest run was 16 yards. He came out of the locker room and ran for six and 10 yards on his first two carries. Later in the third quarter the Redskins were backed up at their own 10. Perine ran four straight plays for 39 yards and the Redskins were near midfield.

Although they didn’t score on that drive they did change field position. That was part of the Redskins’ strategy playing with an injury-depleted offense.

“If you had to punt in a game like this and play field position, it’s not the end of the world because our defense was playing so good,” said Gruden.

Not only did the running game flip the field, it flipped the time of possession. In the first half, the Giants had the ball for 17:40 compared to 12:20 for the Redskins.

“We had to get on the field and control some of the clock,” said tackle Morgan Moses. “We had to give our defense a rest. Samaje put his foot in the ground and got extra yards when needed and we were able to move the chains.”

Moses wasn’t the only one enjoying seeing Perine pile up some yards.

“As a defensive player, you want to see that,” said safety D.J. Swearinger. “We say, keep running it. Keep running him. Let him keep getting those carries, put a dent in the defense. It was a good sight to see.”

RELATED: FIVE KEY MOMENTS IN RESKINS VS GIANTS

Swearinger got to watch a lot of Perine. The Redskins piled up 22:17 in possession in the second half, while Swearinger and his defensive mates had to defend for just 7:43.

Last night was the second time in four days that Perine has rushed for 100 yards or more; he had 117 in New Orleans on Sunday. No Redskin has rushed for 100 yards in consecutive games since Alfred Morris did it in November of 2013.

He will have a chance to extend that streak to three on Thursday against the Cowboys, who are ranked 17th in rushing defense. That would put him in some elite company in Redskins history, including Larry Brown (twice) and Stephen Davis.  A steak of three straight 100-yard games was last done by Morris in 2012.

It may be a little early to look forward, but the Redskins record is five straight 100-yard games, held by Clinton Portis (twice) and Ladell Betts.  

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.