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Redskins 2017 roster battles: Tight end questions behind Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis

Redskins 2017 roster battles: Tight end questions behind Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis

The Redskins go into OTAs with competition for jobs and depth chart position at several spots on the field. Over the next week, Redskins insiders Rich Tandler and J.P. Finlay look at how these competitions stand right now and they each make the case for a potential winner.

3rd Tight End

Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis are roster locks. Reed is arguably the best pass catching tight end in football, and Davis is much more than a veteran backup. The duo give Jay Gruden a myriad of options in the team's two tight end sets, and create matchup problems for linebackers and safeties.

After Reed and Davis, the depth chart gets interesting. Derek Carrier and Niles Paul both saw action last season but have each been dealing with injuries. Carrier opened the 2016 season on the PUP list, and Paul was sent to IR after a gruesome injury Week 8 in London. 

Washington has only carried three tight ends on its roster for the last several years, which already makes for a logjam at the position. Drafting Jeremy Sprinkle out of Arkansas in the fifth round creates even more competition behind Reed and Davis. Sprinkle is the biggest of the bunch and known for his blocking on the college level, and will carry the cheapest price tag.

And the winner is...

Finlay: Assuming all tight end options make it through training camp healthy, Sprinkle seems to be the leader for the third tight end spot. Why? Money. Paul is due nearly $2 million this fall and has played just eight games over the last two seasons. Carrier will cost just over $1 million on the Redskins books. Sprinkle will likely cost half of Carrier and a quarter of Paul's salary. Of course, if Sprinkle does not seem capable in camp, that could change the dynamic, but don't expect that to happen. The rookie proved a highly effective blocker on a run-first team in the SEC, while also flashing good hands as a receiver. Plus, he's got serious size at 6-foot-5 and 252 lbs. Jay Gruden talked about wanting his team to get bigger, and Sprinkle is bigger than both Carrier and Paul. Remember how often the Redskins like to deploy their three tight end jumbo set, and then imagine Sprinkle running onto the field for the formation. The biggest area where Sprinkle needs to prove himself, and quickly, is on special teams. Paul was a special teams standout when healthy.  

Tandler: I would think long and hard before cutting Niles Paul loose. He has been the heart and soul of the Redskins' special teams since he stepped on the field as a rookie. When he has had the chance, he has been productive as a receiver. In 2014, the last time he was fully healthy for a season, he was Reed's backup and he caught 39 passes for 507 yards despite a three-ring circus (RGIII, Colt McCoy, Kirk Cousins) at quarterback. And it's not really fair to call him injury prone. He suffered a broken ankle in a pileup during the 2015 preseason and last year he suffered a shoulder injury trying to make a leaping grab in London. 

In the grand scheme of the NFL's $167 million salary cap, the $1.875 savings that would come from moving on from Paul barely qualifies as a drop in the bucket. While I think that the Redskins need to keep Sprinkle, they should carve out a fourth tight end roster spot for Paul. They did it in 2013 when the drafted Reed when Paul, Logan Paulsen, and Fred Davis were already on the roster. Perhaps they could go with one fewer at the running back spot or at wide receiver. One way or another, if Paul is healthy they should be creative and find a way to keep him around. 

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Exploring the different scenarios between the Redskins and Trent Williams

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USA Today Sports

Exploring the different scenarios between the Redskins and Trent Williams

Training camp comes for the Redskins near the end of July, and in mid-June, not much looks overly worrisome. Except for the Trent Williams situation.

As fans well know, Williams missed all of mandatory minicamp amid reports that the seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle was upset with his contract. There are also reports that Williams is upset with the Redskins medical staff, and one report that the former Top 10 pick "vowed" never to return to Washington. 

That's serious stuff.

Jay Gruden rotated between calling Williams the Redskins best player and one of the team's most important players when the coach spoke about the situation during minicamp. Regardless of the exact assessment, Williams is obviously important to the Redskins plans for 2019, and how good the team can possibly become. 

Looking to the fall, there are a few probable outcomes for the Williams situation to end. Here's a look at the possibilities:

  1. Redskins trade Trent Williams - This seems like quite a long shot, but not impossible. Williams has started 119 games in Washington since 2010, but just two playoff games in that time. He's a very valuable player, one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL, and could obviously draw interest around the NFL. A trade seems quite unlikely, but if a contending team wanted to move for Williams, he might actually want to go. This doesn't seem likely until closer to Week 1, and it doesn't seem likely anyway. The Redskins won't be able to get close to equitable value for Williams on the trade market. 
  2. Redskins cut Trent Williams - There is zero chance this happens. Zero. ZEROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.
  3. Redskins make it work with Trent Williams - The reality of pro football doesn't bode great for Williams. He's under contract for two more seasons and the salary structure of the NFL means there isn't much money without game checks. All of that suggests Williams arrives for the Redskins somewhere in mid-August, perhaps after training camp in Richmond but well before Week 1 in Philadelphia. That doesn't mean, however, that the 'Skins couldn't make a goodwill offer to Williams. His deal in 2020 holds barely any guaranteed cash, and perhaps making more of his salary a certainty could help him come back to the fold. 
  4. Trent Williams never returns - This seems highly unlikely, but has been reported. Williams seems very angry at the Redskins medical staff based off his Instagram posts, and if he can't trust the doctors, maybe he can't play for the organization. Williams has made a tremendous amount of money during his NFL career, with nearly $100 million in career earnings, so never say never. 

 

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In addition to being an NFL player, Bryce Love can now call himself a Stanford graduate

In addition to being an NFL player, Bryce Love can now call himself a Stanford graduate

Bryce Love hopes he'll have the opportunity to carry many footballs in his NFL career. But this past weekend, the running back picked up something that'll be just as, if not more, valuable than the attempts he'll be getting on Sundays.

How's a college diploma from Stanford sound? Pretty solid, right?

Oh, how about a college diploma from Stanford in human biology? Yeah, probably something worth hanging up on the ol' fridge, huh?

Well, that very hard-earned and impressive degree is what Love is now in possession of:

Drafted by the Redskins in late-April and walking across the stage at Stanford in mid-June, Love is doing well for himself recently. He passed up the chance to enter the draft early to ensure he graduated, and now he has.

His college GPA isn't known, but once you find out his high school GPA was 4.5 (that's apparently possible) and add that to the fact that he was able to finish up school out west while also churning up yards for the Cardinal, you can imagine it was very, very good. And if his yards-per-carry average as a pro matches or exceeds it, then the Redskins will be thrilled.

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