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What will the Redskins do with WR Andre Roberts?


What will the Redskins do with WR Andre Roberts?

 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.

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Expect Redskins to bring back Trey Quinn next week as Jamison Crowder's status remains unclear

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Expect Redskins to bring back Trey Quinn next week as Jamison Crowder's status remains unclear

The Redskins need help at wide receiver, and while head coach Jay Gruden allowed a potential trade might bolster the group, the return of rookie Trey Quinn might do the same. 

Quinn landed on the injured reserve after the season opener in Arizona when he injured his ankle on a punt return. The IR designation means Quinn must miss eight weeks of action but can return after that period. 

"We’ll get Trey Quinn back here pretty soon," Gruden said Monday on the Redskins Talk podcast. 

Quinn could be back as early as Week 9 against Atlanta, and it sounds like Gruden expects to see him then.

A record setter at SMU and the final pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, Quinn's return could immediately help the Redskins at their inside slot receiver position. Jamison Crowder has missed the last two games for Washington, and reports say he could miss a few more weeks. 

Of the trio of injured Redskins skill players, Chris Thompson, Paul Richardson, and Crowder, Gruden said the slot WR has "probably got the furthest to go" before he can return from injury. Last week, Crowder was spotted in the Redskins practice facility riding a scooter and with a boot on his ankle. 

With Crowder out an elongated period of time, Quinn could step right in. Both on the smaller side and more quick than fast, Quinn is best suited to play the inside receiver position and can also return punts.

Asked if Quinn is a natural fit to fill in for Crowder, Gruden replied, "exactly right."

Fellow rookie receiver Cam Sims also landed on the IR after Week 1, but Gruden did not indicate that he would be brought back on the same timeline as Quinn. 

"We’ll probably just take one of them. Right now I think Trey is probably closer to returning than Cam ."

NFL rules stipulate that the team can bring only two players back from the injured reserve over the course of a season. So if the 'Skins bring back Quinn as soon as he is eligible next week, it makes sense for the organization to wait before using their final retrievable IR slot on another wide receiver.

Gruden's comments make two things clear: The organization sees Quinn back on the 53-man roster ASAP, and Crowder's return seems to be a serious question mark. 

Washington also seems likely to have a roster spot for Quinn next week. Special teams ace Jehu Chesson has already been up and down on the Redskins roster twice, and it would be little surprise if Quinn's return means Chesson gets released. Should that happen, Washington might again try to bring Chesson back to their practice squad. 



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As injuries linger at WR, Jay Gruden believes a trade might help Redskins

As injuries linger at WR, Jay Gruden believes a trade might help Redskins

The Dallas Cowboys traded for Amari Cooper on Monday, and with that, alarms go off around the NFL that it's wheeling and dealing season. The trade deadline hits in one week, and for teams looking to bolster their squad before the second half of the year, it's time to see what areas could improve. 

For Redskins head coach Jay Gruden, the injury situation at wide receiver means that his team could use help at the position. 

"We could probably use one more there if we could," Gruden said Monday on the Redskins Talk podcast. 

Asked if there was one area the team could bolster via trade, the coach explained that if wideouts Jamison Crowder or Paul Richardson could come back from injury right away, the Redskins would have no need to trade for another receiver. Unfortunately for the Redskins, neither injury situation is very clear, and some reports show that Crowder could miss a few more weeks working back from an ankle injury. 

"I think if you look at our team right now with the injuries to Crowder and obviously the uncertainty with Richardson you might want to add another receiver, but I like what [Michael] Floyd’s done coming in here," Gruden said. 

Floyd had one catch for 20 yards in the Redskins win on Sunday over the Cowboys, but he's a physical veteran that has the coach excited. Gruden also complimented what Maurice Harris and Brian Quick have done in the absence of Richardson and Crowder.

While the Cowboys struck first in the receiver trade market, more players remain reportedly available, including Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas and Dolphins WR DeVante Parker. 

Thomas is a five-time Pro Bowler in Denver, but at 30 years old and with some trade value, it makes sense for John Elway to consider his market. The Broncos are 3-4 and have an underperforming offense. 

Parker was a first-round pick in 2015 but has not had a 1,000-yard season in Miami. Making matters more complicated, Parker's agent Jimmy Gould called Dolphins head coach Adam Gase "incompetent" to a host of different media outlets. Parker has only been active twice this season though he contends health is not an issue. 

Gruden remains confident that 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson will get going, and he is a similar big target as Thomas and Parker. Should Richardson miss significant time, the Redskins would lack a true speed threat.

There's certainly no clear indication that Washington will make a move before the NFL trade deadline, but as things stand now with injuries, there is a need. Remember, too, the Redskins are long on 2019 draft picks with 10 selections in seven rounds.