Who Stays, Who Goes: Redskins Offense 2016
Although the Washington Redskins finished the 2015 season strong, winning the NFC East and qualifying for the playoffs, they also lost in the first round of the playoffs. That 2015 team made strides towards respectability in the NFL, much still remains in terms of rebuilding the team into an every year powerhouse.
Second-year GM Scot McCloughan will look to better the Redskins roster, mainly via the draft, but some options may arise in free agency that fit McCloughan’s wants along the way as well.
Before McCloughan can assess the free agent market or fully see the direction he wants to take in the draft, he must decide which players to keep from the 2015 team that won the NFC East crown.
In the NFL the most talked about position will always be the quarterback, this offseason that topic will cloud all others in terms of the Redskins situation. All three quarterback’s that the Redskins had on the roster in 2015 have question marks beside them heading into this offseason. The team seems poised to release former rookie of the year Robert Griffin III, Colt McCoy is a free agent and they currently have no deal with Kirk Cousins either.
The Redskins recently broke off contract talks with Cousins, and if the team decides to not designate the franchise tag on him, there is a scenario that includes all three QB’s being free agents in 2016. That may sound ludicrous when you think about the numbers Cousins put up in 2015, but McCloughan has experience with situations like these in the past that could affect his judgment.
While in Seattle, McCloughan was the one who decided to sign then free agent Matt Flynn to a long-term deal, just months before he drafted Russell Wilson. As most know, Wilson took over the starting role, and Flynn never started a single game. That experience alone could be a major factor in the contract talks between the Redskins and Cousins’ agent. I highly doubt that McCloughan will risk his reputation on a player he didn’t draft after having only one year of good play to go on. The tag will in all likelihood be applied to Cousins before the deadline so that the team can have another season to decide if a long-term deal is the right thing.
Runningback will be an interesting position for the Redskins this offseason as Alfred Morris is a free agent and will test the market. That doesn’t mean Morris will sign elsewhere, it just means the team is not willing to pay him top-tier money to avoid him hitting the open market. Runningback is a position that many teams have recently looked to the draft to fill needs. The position has the shortest shelf-life of all skill spots in the NFL. Matt Jones will split carries with someone in 2016…just who that person may be is anybody’s guess at this point. Chris Thompson will be in the mix somewhere, Jay Gruden found a spot for him in the passing game last year.
Not much should change for the Redskins at wide receiver in 2016, although the team could look to add a taller red-zone target to the mix. Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson both have hefty salaries that could be cut out without much dead cap hit, but likely won’t. The two receivers are pivotal to the team’s success as DJax opens things up downfield, and Garcon is tough as nails going across the middle.
Jamison Crowder looks like he could be a viable weapon in the near future with his shifty moves and reliable hands. Andre Roberts has likely played his last game as Redskins player. Roberts has not lived up to his free-agent deal and lost his slot role to Crowder last year. Cutting him will save the team
A spot that should see some attention this offseason is tight end. The Redskins will get Logan Paulsen and Niles Paul back from injury, which means they currently have four tight ends on the roster with Derek Carrier also set to return from injury. Out of the four, only Paulsen has shown major ability to block. The team needs to draft a tight end that better fits the needs of Jay Gruden’s offense in terms of protection. Niles Paul and Jordan Reed could very well be the best tight end tandem in the league, but somebody is going to have to block.
I saved the area of biggest concern for last. The offensive line must find a way to open holes and get their running backs better than three yards per carry, the number the team gained in 2015. With the addition of Brandon Scherff and the emergence of Morgan Moses, the right side looks much improved, but not finished product quite yet. With time that side could be deadly.
The glaring hole continues to be at center, where Kory Lichtensteiger currently is the starter despite being injured most of the year. Licht is not the long-term answer, neither is Josh LeRibeus. Spencer Long looked decent filling in for the injured Shawn Lauvao at left guard, but could still use more work as well. Trent Williams anchors this unit as he continues to be the best player on the entire team. Ty Nsekhe proved to be a solid backup tackle, and Tom Compton actually played more tight end in 2015 than he did tackle. Both played well enough to return although nothing is guaranteed with backups, not to mention second-year guard Arie Kouandjio could push one or both for their roster position in 2016. Lauvao could find himself on the outside looking in real quick depending on how fast Long and Kouandjio develop.
Offensive line coach/Assistant Head Coach Bill Callahan will look to get these guys to the top of their game all offseason. Callahan could very well have been the best acquisition of the entire 2015 offseason in terms of what he brought for this unit, and in general for second-year head coach Jay Gruden.
Offensive Players Who Will Likely be cut/not re-signed: Redskins Offense 2016
- Robert Griffin III – QB
- Colt McCoy – QB
- Alfred Morris – RB
- Andre Roberts – WR
- Logan Paulsen – TE
- Shawn Lauvao – LG
- Josh LeRibeus – G/C