In less than a year, the Redskins completed a stunning turnaround, ascending from a laughingstock in 2014 to a division champion in 2015. But now comes the difficult part: taking that all-important next step and improving from a franchise that was fortunate to get into the playoffs to one that can do some damage once it gets there. And that work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players.
In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will examine the 25 biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.
No. 3—Should Andre Roberts return in 2016?
El-Bashir: Roberts’ tenure in Washington got off to what the wide receiver called a “frustrating” start. Of course, I’m talking about the Redskins recruiting him to be their No. 2 wide receiver in 2014…and then, just a few weeks later, signing DeSean Jackson. Roberts had not played a single snap in Washington and he had already been demoted to the No. 3 spot behind Jackson and Pierre Garcon.
It’s hard to say exactly how much that initial disappointment contributed to Roberts’ struggles, but it couldn’t have helped.
In 2014, Roberts was targeted 72 times and caught just 36 of those balls for 453 yards and two touchdowns. He didn't make much of an impact as a returner, either.
Things actually went downhill from there in 2015. Roberts lost his job as a returner, dropped a couple of passes early and by Week 4 was a healthy scratch. His season ended in December when he opted to have surgery on a knee that had hampered him for a month. In all, the 28-year-old finished with career lows in several categories including games played (9), receptions (11), yards (139) and touchdowns (0).
That sharp decline in production combined with the emergence of Jamison Crowder and Roberts’ $5 million cap hit in 2016 makes it very difficult to see him returning for a third year.
Tandler: Sometimes a decision appears to be so easy that you have to look for reasons why the obvious may not happen. Rarely are choices involving millions of dollars as cut and dried as a decision to release Andre Roberts seems to be.
The Redskins have paid Roberts $8 million so far. He got a 44 million signing bonus and his 2014 and 2015 salaries, which totaled an additional $4 million, were guaranteed. Despite Roberts’ disappointing production in 2015 should the Redskins just cut bait on the sunk costs or try to et something out it it?
There are two years and another $8 million, in the form of $4 million salaries (not guaranteed) in 2016 and 2017, left on his contract. His $5 million cap number this year makes him 35th highest paid wide receiver in the NFL. It’s difficult to make a case that his performance justifies that salary.
But is he worth keeping around at a lower cap number? Roberts should be open to taking a pay cut since nobody would pay him anything close to $4 million if he hit the open market. They could offer him, say, a $1 million base salary with a chance to make another half a million or so in performance incentives and per-game roster bonuses he can earn if he’s on the 46-man game day active list.
That would give them some experienced depth in case of injury and a guy who can return kicks (remember he had a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against the Panthers).
With all that said, the most likely outcome seems to be an outright release. That would save the Redskins $3 million against the cap and they could add depth to the position via the draft.
25 Questions series
- Wednesday:Is McCoy the answer at backup QB for the Redskins?
- Yesterday:Should the Redskins try to keep Alfred Morris?
- Today: Should the Redskins cut Andre Roberts?
- Tomorrow: Who will be a surprise cap casualty?