The Redskins have used a steady stream of undrafted free agents to round out their roster in recent seasons. Guys like Steven Sims, Quinton Dunbar, Rob Kelley, Will Compton and Deshazor Everett developed into important role players or even starters for the franchise despite being passed over in the NFL's marquee offseason event.
In 2020, though, that stream may totally dry up.
Washington was supposed to host their rookie minicamp over this past weekend, but the current pandemic prevented that from happening. Typically, those three days of practice is where names such as Sims and Kelley were first mentioned by coaches and written down by reporters as youngsters who stood out in an otherwise disorganized stretch of football.
Unfortunately, the Burgundy and Gold's UDFAs, like their counterparts across the league, missed out on that opportunity to impress this year. And that won't be the only way COVID-19 impacts their chances of sticking with Ron Rivera's team through the preseason.
Once the draft's final round concluded, the Redskins signed just four additional players: TE Thaddeus Moss, QB Steven Montez, WR Isaiah Wright and WR Johnathon Johnson. That number varies greatly from the eight they landed in 2019 and the dozen-plus they brought on in 2018, and it's not hard to figure out why.
The lack of pro days and facility visits in February and March made it harder to get a feel for lesser-known prospects or prospects with injury questions. Furthermore, the lack of reps in the coming months will make it difficult for the undrafted options to transition to the next level, so why commit to a lot of them in the first place?.
So, Rivera and Kyle Smith have really cut down on the amount of college free agents they're going to look at, and those college free agents will have fewer chances to be looked at, too. That combination is going to make the odds of a long shot turning into a contributor even longer.
Now, those unknowns that are hoping to emerge for the Redskins still have reasons to believe.
Moss, for example, is someone who likely would've been selected if he had better luck with his health and he's going to be competing for a place in the team's weakest position group. Montez, meanwhile, can look at how Rivera gave Kyle Allen a chance in Carolina after Allen was initially ignored. Then there are the two wideouts, who'll try to catch on in a very young and still unproven receiving corps.
But still, all of those factors could very easily be outweighed by a shortage of time. There's also the enormous haul of veterans the organization added in March, all of whom will supersede the UDFAs when it comes to getting snaps in camp and exhibition games.
The rise of an undrafted free agent is annually one of the best stories on every NFL team. For the Redskins, however, the next one may not come until 2021. This time around, the rises may have been halted before they could ever really start.
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