This week, JP Finlay and Pete Hailey will examine some of the more critical position battles you'll see on the Redskins over the next few months.
Next up? Tight end.
Jeremy Sprinkle, Logan Thomas, Hale Hentges, Thaddeus Moss, Richard Rodgers, Caleb Wilson, Marcus Baugh
*Let’s be clear that nobody really knows what’s going to happen at tight end. That goes for the coaches, the players, the front office. There are plenty of options but nothing is obvious with this group.
*Thomas will have the inside track on starting. He signed a two-year deal with Washington this offseason and the contract contained real money; he got more than $2 million in his signing bonus. Thomas started all 16 games last year for the Lions and has all the physical tools to be effective on the line, but it’s unknown if he can be a true playmaking weapon. I already mentioned Thomas started all 16 games last year, which is a positive, but he only made 16 catches in those 16 starts. That’s not a positive.
*Let's talk about Moss. He balled out last season at LSU — 47 catches for nearly 600 yards and four touchdowns — but slipped in the draft because of a foot injury. Fans are right to be excited about Moss — he made two TD grabs in the national title game for LSU for goodness sake — but he also went undrafted for a reason. Moss, at least, has the right attitude: “ I’m not going out there with a vengeance, trying to prove people wrong. I’m just trying to go out there and be the best football player that I can be, be the best teammate that I can be, you know, and like I said just prove myself right." Moss might be the biggest wild card on the Redskins 2020 offense. If he can get right, the Redskins solved their tight end problem.
OTHER BATTLES TO WATCH: LEFT TACKLE
*With all the talk about Thomas and Moss people kinda forgot that Jeremy Sprinkle started 13 games last year and made 26 catches. It wasn't always pretty — Sprinkle had too many important drops — but on some level, he's proven he can play. Not many of these other Redskins tight ends can say that definitively.
*Don't forget that Rodgers' dad is on the Redskins coaching staff. This isn't high school (as in, that won't get him on the varsity when he deserves to play JV) but it's an interesting note nonetheless.
*With a new staff and no offseason workouts, some lesser known players might have way fewer opportunities to win a job. That's tough news for Hentges and Wilson.
*Going to finish this the same way it started: I don't know what's going to happen at tight end. Doesn't seem like Redskins OC Scott Turner does, either: "We got Sprinkle coming back who has been on the roster, a couple other guys and just put them in the mix to compete and see how that whole thing shakes out.”
*Trying to sort through the Redskins' current set of tight ends and find something to be happy about is like trying to sort through JP's recent purchases and not find a 7-Eleven visit in there. Both tasks are difficult.
*Yes, Thomas is intriguing, and Ron Rivera, Turner and Kyle Smith have all made sure to mention how much they like what he can do. Maybe they're onto something, and he'll continue to progress. But the reality is he had just 16 grabs in 2019. Even if he takes a major step forward, what does that look like? 35 receptions?
*I get that fans will be drawn to Moss thanks to his last name, the way he produced for the national champions and the fact that he's an underdog. But for those (such as JP) pointing to what he did at LSU as evidence that he can be a reliable receiver in the NFL, think about how excellent his QB was in school and how many studs were around him in that offense. Playing for Washington is going to be very different from his college experience.
*As for Sprinkle, at this point, he is what he is: He can catch a few passes (as long as they hit him right in his hands) and serve as a fine blocker. That feels like Hentges' ceiling, too. Then there's Rodgers, who hasn't caught a TD since 2017. Bleh, bleh and bleh.
*In the end, I think Thomas will lead this group in receptions, yards and touchdowns, but none of those numbers will be particularly strong. Moss, meanwhile, will be a useful blocker — every scouting report touts what he can do there — but not much more. I guess Sprinkle will be there as well. It doesn't matter, though, because people are going to look back in a few months and skewer the Redskins for not doing more here, and rightfully so. No, you can't fix everything in one offseason, but what they tried to do at this spot certainly ain't it.
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