The Redskins are part of the way through the process of retooling their 2017 roster. While the major part of free agency is over, they still can add a few veterans all the way through training camp. They have 10 picks in the draft that starts April 27. In this series, we’re going to take a look at what has changed on the Redskins roster since the season ended and what they need to add to remain competitive in the revived NFC East.
This series started on defense and you can see all those posts here. Today the focus turns to the offense starting with the tight ends.
2016 final game starter: Jordan Reed
Reed was on his way to a monster season before suffering a shoulder injury on Thanksgiving in Dallas. He was on pace to catch over 100 passes for 1,100 yards but he played in only three of the remaining six games and caught seven more passes for 56 yards. There are many reasons cited for the Redskins’ stumble down the stretch that cost them the playoffs but the absence of Reed’s production in December certainly is high on the list.
Projected 2017 starter: Reed
Reed’s five-year, $46.5 million extension signed a year ago kicks in this year. Even if he has an average Jordan Reed year he will be a relative salary cap bargain with a cap hit of $5.7 million.
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2017 reserves: Vernon Davis, Niles Paul, Derek Carrier
There was plenty of eyebrows raised when Scot McCloughan signed the 32-year-old Davis, who appeared to be at the end of the line after a lost 2015 season with the 49ers and Broncos. But he turned out to be a very valuable addition, playing well both when Reed was sidelined and when the two were on the field at the same time.
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Carrier and Paul split the season as the third tight end. Paul played the first eight games while Carrier was on the PUP list while recovering from a serious knee injury he sustained late in the 2015 season. Then Paul suffered a shoulder injury against the Bengals in London and Carrier came off PUP to replace him.
Where can the tight ends find improvement?
Reed staying healthy for 16 games has the most potential to help but that is not something the team can count on. In his four years in the league he has played in 9, 11, 14, and 12 games. It’s not a coincidence that the team’s best year in that stretch, 2015, was the year that Reed played in 14 games.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Redskins take a tight end in the draft. Jay Gruden has mentioned that the team could use a blocking tight end so he can line up a third tight end who, unlike Ty Nsekhe, is a threat to catch a pass. There were six tight ends at the combine who weighed in at 255 or more pounds and they could have their eyes on one of those in what is, for a change, a deep class at the position.
Locks and bubble players
Reed and Davis are set. Carrier may be on the outside looking in. The bubble player is Paul. If they draft a tight end he could have trouble making the 53-man roster.