In less than a year, the Redskins completed a stunning turnaround, ascending from a laughingstock in 2014 to a division champion in 2015. But now comes the difficult part: taking that all-important next step and improving from a franchise that was fortunate to get into the playoffs to one that can do some damage once it gets there. And that work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players.
In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will examine the 25 biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.
Will the Redskins bring back Pierre Garçon?
Tandler: In a world where personnel decisions were made based solely on football criteria there would be no question that Pierre Garçon would return to the Redskins in 2016. He was second on the team with 72 receptions for 777 yards and six touchdowns. He made some clutch plays including a tough catch in the end zone for the game-winning touchdown against the Eagles. Garçon sets a great example for younger players in terms preparation and competitiveness.
But we don’t live in that on-field only world. It’s a salary capped world and money matters. Garçon’s 2016 cap number is $10.2 million. Only 12 wide receivers have a higher cap number this year and given that he represents a questionable value. His 72 receptions tied for 33rd in the NFL and the 777 receiving yards were 45th.
Will the Redskins get enough production out of Garçon in 2016 to justify the $10.2 million cap number or are they better off adding the $8 million savings from releasing him to their available cap space? The easy thing to say is save the $8 million, that’s a good chunk of cash. But it’s not that easy.
Who will replace those 777 receiving yards and six touchdowns? Ryan Grant or Rashad Ross? Certainly not this year, if ever. A draft pick? The draft is short on receiver prospects who can be productive as rookies and there is unlikely to be one available when the Redskins are on the clock with the 21st pick. The free agent class is thin and a receiver who can be as productive as Garçon will cost you at least a much as Garçon.
Sometimes you have to overpay to get what you need. I see Garçon playing out the last year of his contract while McCloughan drafts a mid round prospect or two for the coaches to groom as his successor.
El-Bashir: Let’s start with a little math. Garcon’s cap hit for 2016 is $10.2 million—or the 13th highest cap charge among all NFL wide receivers, according to spotrac.com. Last season, meanwhile, Garcon was tied for 29th in receiving touchdowns (6), tied for 33rd in receptions (72) and was 45th in yards (777).
So let’s see…13th highest cap charge next season in exchange for 33rd in receptions (and second on his own team to Jordan Reed’s 87). Something’s out of whack, right?
Based on the numbers above, it appears that the Redskins aren’t getting their money’s worth. Buuuuut ....different players have different values for different teams. And that's the situation the Redskins are confronted with when it comes to Garcon, I think.
He’s a productive player and, at 29 years old, he's got another good year (or three) left in the tank if he stays healthy. He’s also exactly what GM scot McCloughan says he wants for the Redskins—a tough player who is passionate about the game and can be counted on in the clutch.
I don’t suspect Garcon would accept a pay cut because he knows that he'd easily get another big payday elsewhere. I also don’t think the Redskins would be able to get similar production from a reserve currently on the roster, a draft pick or a lower priced free agent. In fact, if McCloughan went into the market to sign a player comparable to Garcon, he’d probably end up spending a similar amount of money, while taking on a lot of uncertainties with regard to injury history, scheme/locker room fit, etc.
That’s a long-winded way of saying I agree with Tandler on this one. Garcon, indeed, comes with a hefty price tag. But his value to the Redskins—not to mention his importance to an emerging quarterback who needs weapons around him to succeed—I see Garcon playing at least one more season in Washington.
25 Questions series
- Is McCoy the answer at backup QB for the Redskins?
- Should the Redskins try to keep Alfred Morris?
- Should the Redskins cut Andre Roberts?
- Will there be a surprise cap casualty?
- Will DeAngelo Hall return?
- Should the Redskins draft a quarterback?
- Are the Redskins set at outside linebacker?
- Should the Redskins make changes on the offensive line?
- Today: Should Pierre Garçon return?
- Tomorrow: What should the Redskins do at tight end?