After each ranking the Redskins' position groups on a list that went from worst to best, JP Finlay and Pete Hailey will now spend the rest of the week and weekend delving deeper into every spot on the roster.
First up is the one they both agreed is the weakest on the team: Tight end.
Currently on the depth chart: Logan Thomas, Jeremy Sprinkle, Hale Hentges, Thaddeus Moss, Richard Rodgers, Caleb Wilson, Marcus Baugh
Who's in charge?: Pete Hoener (21 years of NFL experience, including his stint from 2011 to 2019 with Ron Rivera and the Panthers)
Saying the Redskins' tight end group is questionable is like saying a football field is green and has two end zones. Things don't look promising.
In free agency, Washington signed Thomas and Rodgers. In the draft, meanwhile — well, technically, after the draft — they added Moss.
So, those three join Sprinkle and Hentges, as well as some fringe players, and they all will scrap throughout the rest of the offseason to make the team. Everyone seems to have a fairly even shot at doing so — just like everyone, aside from maybe Thomas, seems to have a fairly even shot at being cut.
*I gotta admit: I'm pretty shocked that this is what the Redskins have at tight end as we sit here in early June. While Ron Rivera said he "wasn't prepared" to match the lucrative contract Austin Hooper got from the Browns, that may be something he and the team regret come, say, October, when Dwayne Haskins is leaning on the guys listed above. I understand you can't fix a squad in one offseason, and I like what Rivera and the front office have done mostly everywhere else, but this collection of tight ends is feeble. As many of the league's best continue to rely more and more on the position — look at the two who played in last year's Super Bowl — the Burgundy and Gold are trending the opposite way.
*At this point, I think the best-case scenario for Rivera, Haskins and Scott Turner is that the production here is serviceable. I just don't really see any realistic path to things being better than that. I'm intrigued on the gamble on Thomas, and believe that Hoener — who has coached Vernon Davis and Greg Olsen in the past — can help the converted quarterback as he continues to transition into the role of pass catcher. But even if Thomas takes a measurable step forward, that may mean 35 or 40 catches at best in 2020 (his career high of 16 came last season in Detroit). Beyond him, Sprinkle, Rodgers and Hentges aren't guys who are going to consistently be involved in the air. That leaves Moss as a long shot whom the Redskins badly need to come through.
*As for Moss' chances of coming through, the current pandemic could make that already daunting task even harder. Yes, an undrafted free agent always seems to find a way onto the Redskins year in and year out, but Moss will have far fewer reps to make an impression than those in the past. One place where he'll have to stand out? Blocking. Nearly every scouting report uses some synonym of the word "nasty" to describe what he does in that area, so if he makes that his calling card, that would do quite a bit for his chances of sticking around for meaningful action.
*If I had to guess (which I don't, because who would ever find themselves in a place where they had to guess about something so mundane?) what the Redskins' Week 1 depth chart looks like at tight end, I'll say it'll feature Thomas, Moss and a third option who gets picked up later on. Sprinkle is entering the final year of his rookie deal and is set for a decent raise that may not be worth doling out, Rodgers has one grab over the past two campaigns and Hentges will get bumped out by some veteran that gets released by another organization.
*I obviously don't think too highly of Hentges, but I bet JP — who's written the only Hentges-focused story in the history of NBCSportsWashington.com (a story with a splendid headline, by the way) — will say something at least somewhat nice about him. In fact, if any sportsbooks are offering lines on that happening, go place a bet on the "yes" side before continuing on. You can Venmo me some of your winnings when you cash the ticket.
*Did we all know that Logan Thomas was the No. 1 tight end recruit in the country way back in 2009? He had offers from Florida State and Clemson. Penn State and UNC, too. Seriously. He ended up playing QB at Virginia Tech, but the tight end stuff was real way back then. The Redskins coaching staff is legit excited about Thomas at tight end now, and maybe they're ahead of the curve? He does not have production to point to — Thomas made 16 catches last season in 16 games — but at 6-foot-6 and 250 lbs., he's got the size to make it work at the position.
*People get so excited about Thaddeus Moss' touchdown catches from last year at LSU, but he's a blocker. He wants to block, has the mindset to block, and will need to grind his way to a roster spot. It won't be easy, but there's a clear path for the undrafted rookie. It's not a given, but it looks highly possible.
*Jeremy Sprinkle isn't as bad as some fans think. He hasn't missed a game in two years and did make 26 catches last year. He also had a number of tough drops, especially when Dwayne Haskins took over as quarterback, and isn't an elite blocker. Sprinkle's salary jumps up this year as it's the last year of his rookie deal, and that could make Hale Hentges much more attractive. It's hard to know what will happen with the third tight end spot, but this isn't exactly a battle of the titans either.
*Last thought - for fans upset the Redskins didn't go harder after Austin Hooper — the team was never going to go north of $10 million per season for the former Falcon. Cleveland set the market and there wasn't much competition. If Washington hadn't proven the willingness to throw giant stacks of cash at Amari Cooper, then there could be a real question about the Redskins willingness to pay top market prices. But, Ron Rivera proved willing to spend big. He just didn't want to for Hooper. The 2020 tight end draft class wasn't elite. The free agent class wasn't either.
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