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Redskins position outlook: Wide receivers

Redskins position outlook: Wide receivers

Over the next few weeks, JP Finlay and Rich Tandler will evaluate each position group’s performance in 2016, break down the current personnel situation and look forward to the unit's outlook for 2017.

Wide receiver

2016 starters: Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson, Jamison Crowder (slot)

Backups: Maurice Harris, Ryan Grant, Rashad Ross (waived), Josh Doctson (IR)

Free agents: Garçon, Jackson

Rewind: For the first time since 1999 the Redskins had two receivers go over 1,000 yards in a season. Garçon had the second-best season of his nine-year career with 79 receptions for 1041 yards and three touchdowns. It was his best year since he broke the team record for receptions in 2013. As usual, he was Mr. Consistency for Washington. He had fewer than four receptions in a game just twice and he didn’t have more than seven in a game.

Jackson was not as consistent—he missed one game and had fewer the four receptions in seven of them—but he was explosive. His line was 56/1005/4 and he led the league with an average of 17.9 yards per reception. Of his 56 receptions, 25 percent (14) went for 25 yards or more. Many contend that he could have had many more big plays but Kirk Cousins sometimes misfired when he was open or went elsewhere when Jackson appeared to be the better option.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: How far away from a Super Bowl?

Crowder actually played more snaps (781) than Jackson (712) did. Through the first 11 games he was on pace to join the 1,000-yard club but he cooled off towards the end of the season. Still, 67/847/7 is a very respectable line. He also was an asset as a punt returner, averaging 12.1 yards per return and scoring an important touchdown against the Ravens.

There were high hopes that Doctson could be a big-time third down and red zone target but the Achilles problem kept that from happening. While his rookie year certainly was a massive disappointment it’s far too early to refer to him as a draft bust.

Grant played in 16 games and he caught only nine passes. They like his run blocking and that’s fine but when he is on the field it’s almost like the Redskins are playing with only four eligible receivers on the field. That’s much easier to defend.

While the arrow on Grant’s career appears to be pointing down, Harris’ could be going up. The undrafted free agent was promoted to the 53 when Doctson went on injured reserve. He immediately became active on game days over Ross, who eventually was released. Harris only had eight receptions but he made some tough catches and showed promise.

More Redskins: The Redskins are playing catch up in the NFC

Fast forward: Besides the Kirk Cousins contract saga, no free agency decisions are more talked about and more critical to the team’s short-term future than what happens with Garçon and Jackson. When I wrote about the salary cap situation at the wide receiver position last week I said that the I saw the probabilities of each of four possible outcomes in this situation in this order, most likely to least likely: Garçon stays, neither stays, Jackson stays, both stay. From what I am hearing today I’ll stick with that but “neither” may be gaining on the lead.

The question is, what happens when these scenarios unfold?

If one of Garçon or Jackson stays—This is fairly simple. They would have Garçon/Jackson as a starter along with Crowder and Doctson. Harris would have a shot at the No. 4 receiver slot. Grant could stay as the fifth or perhaps the team would look for a draft pick to give them a more dynamic option.

If both Garçon and Jackson leave—This would create a “code red” situation for getting a starting caliber wide receiver. Doctson and Crowder would be a good start. But they would have to add a veteran in free agency or hope they can find another Crowder in the draft. The desperate situation they would be in with both veterans gone is the main reason why I think that keeping one of them is the more likely scenario.

If they both return—As I explained in the salary cap post, keeping both of the veterans would be difficult because Crowder is going to be due a solid payday as early as next year, when the CBA allows his contract to be renegotiated. But if they do the only problem will be finding snaps for Doctson and that’s a pretty good problem, to have.

2017 Position outlook series

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Washington Football Team has noticed the Red Wolves movement from fans

Washington Football Team has noticed the Red Wolves movement from fans

The Washington Football Team has announced that it will not have a new moniker until the 2021 offseason at the earliest, but that hasn't stopped fans from giving their input on what the franchise's new name should be.

As part of the process for selecting a new name, Washington has asked for fans to send in their suggestions. On Monday, the team's official account shared a submission from one fan named Sarah, who is in favor of the name 'Red Wolves.'

"Once I saw it, I really fell in love. I really love the idea of Washington Red Wolves," Sarah wrote. "I have been a fan of the team since I was born, so that's over 26 years, and my dad has been a season ticket holder for a while. Can't wait for what's next."

Out of all the potential name suggestions, Red Wolves is the suggestion that has arguably gained the biggest following amongst the Washington fanbase - at least on social media.

In polls taken by NBC Sports Washington, the Washington Post and popular fan account formerly known as @RedskinsToday_, Red Wolves was the overwhelming favorite.

RELATED: MAKING THE CASE FOR RED WOLVES AS WASHINGTON'S NEW TEAM NAME

Monday's post from Washington was the fourth fan submission the team has shared on its official Twitter account. However, the post on Monday was a little different than the first three.

The suggestion from Sarah was the first post the franchise shared that suggested a specific name; the first three fan responses Washington shared were generic and didn't have one individual favorite name.

The fans have made their voice heard, as Washington has received over 5,000 responses of potential name suggestions. 

While this may mean a whole bunch of nothing (this is just Twitter, after all), Washington has now officially acknowledged the Red Wolves movement from fans.

And for those that desperately want Washington Red Wolves to be the team's name from 2021 and on, that's good news no matter what way you look at it.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TALK PODCAST

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Terry McLaurin ranked above AJ Green, Adam Thielen as top WRs entering 2020 season

Terry McLaurin ranked above AJ Green, Adam Thielen as top WRs entering 2020 season

Terry McLaurin had an outstanding season for the Washington Football Team in 2019, a campaign that ultimately ended just eight yards short of breaking Gary Clark's franchise rookie record.

Based on the eye test and his numbers alone, it's easy to see why Washington is so excited about the second-year pass-catcher for years to come. But if those two things weren't enough to convince you that McLaurin is going to be a star, the advanced analytics will change your mind.

Pro Football Focus has ranked McLaurin as the 13th-best wide receiver entering the 2020 season, ahead of former Pro Bowl pass-catchers Adam Thielen, T.Y. Hilton and A.J. Green, to name a few.

Here's what the advanced analytics website had to say about the Washington pass-catcher:

McLaurin had one of the biggest surprise rookie seasons in recent memory last year. The former third-round pick earned an 86.5 receiving grade, sixth in the league, but it was also the second-best grade we have ever given to a rookie wide receiver. He is an advanced route-runner who can separate downfield at a high rate — he generated separation at the sixth-highest rate in the league on targets of 10-plus yards downfield against single coverage last year. McLaurin averaged 2.05 yards per route run last year, 14th among wide receivers, and he did that despite seeing the second-lowest rate of accurate targets among rookie wide receivers. If Dwayne Haskins can take that next step forward, McLaurin figures to be a force to be reckoned with in Washington.

As the blurb mentioned, McLaurin exceeded all expectations as a rookie in 2019. His 58 catches and 919 receiving yards were by-far a team-high. The third-round pick's seven receiving touchdowns were responsible for almost half of Washington's touchdowns in 2019 via the pass.

PFF took notice of McLaurin's production in 2019 despite the little help he had around him. McLaurin earned an 86.5 receiving grade a year ago, which was the sixth-best mark in the league. That rating was the third-highest overall grade of any rookie last season.

But of all the advanced analytic stats, this one is perhaps the most impressive one: In PFF's history, only Odell Beckham Jr. in 2014 had a higher-graded rookie season than McLaurin had a year ago. 

RELATED: MCLAURIN, NOT AMARI COOPER, WAS PFF'S HIGHEST-GRADED WR IN THE NFC EAST IN 2019

The last part of PFF's breakdown of McLaurin is what will likely determine the second-year wideout's success the most. While Washington head coach Ron Rivera has yet to name Dwayne Haskins the starter, many signs point towards the 23-year-old being Washington's starter in Week 1.

Once Haskins became Washington's starter midway through the season, he and McLaurin began to form a solid duo before injuries prematurely ended both of their rookie campaigns. The connection between the two can be traced back to 2016, when they first became teammates at Ohio State.

Now in Washington, no two players on offense mean more to both the short- and long-term success of the Football Team's offense than Haskins and McLaurin.

McLaurin was a third-round pick and saw 11 other pass-catchers hear them name called before Washington eventually selected him 74th overall in 2019. When Washington picked No. 17, they knew they were getting a speedy wide receiver with excellent character and a fantastic special teamer.

One year later, they have one of the league's brightest rising stars in the game, a player all the other 31 teams would love to have.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TALK PODCAST

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