The Redskins roster for the upcoming season could either look drastically different or much of the same depending on how many of their free agents they are able to attain and how many they replace with draft picks or outside free agents. Scot McCloughan has made it clear throughout his tenure that his strategy involves retaining the Redskins own free agents while simultaneously building through the draft. Redskins should expect no different this offseason so expect the Redskins to field a familiar team when the 2017 NFL season kicks off.
Here is a sneak peek of what the Redskins roster could potentially look like when their first game rolls around:
*Note: this roster has been constructed based on the other two articles from Redskins Mock Offseason 1.0 listed above
Players: Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy, Nate Sudfeld
The Redskins quarterback situation in 2017 figures to look very much the same as it did last season; with Kirk Cousins entrenched as the starter, Colt McCoy as the primary backup, and Nate Sudfeld as the developmental option. Cousins will look to build on a season that saw him break the Redskins single-season passing record as he attempts to prove to the organization that he was well worth his 5 year, $118 million contract. McCoy returns having solidified himself as one of the better backup quarterbacks in the NFL, leaving the Redskins offense in capable hands if his number is called. Sudfeld’s position as the third quarterback is not as safe as his counterparts, however, as Scot McCloughan will almost assuredly bring in a quarterback to compete for the third string quarterback spot, in this case it will be seventh round draft pick Cooper Rush. Ultimately, Sudfeld ought to retain his spot due to the experience he gained his rookie season and his familiarity with the offense.
Running Backs (4)
Players: Robert Kelley, Chris Thompson, Matt Jones, Mack Brown
The running back position for the Redskins last season did not pan out as expected, Matt Jones entered the season as the clear lead back before slowly ceding carries to and eventually losing his starting job to undrafted rookie Robert Kelley. Head coach Jay Gruden has expressed confidence in Kelley as the lead back going forward so Fat Rob can be expected to retain his starting position. After being tendered by the team, third-down back Chris Thompson will follow up his first productive season as a Redskin with an encore performance in 2017 and, in doing so, demonstrate he is well worth a longer term deal. Matt Jones is set to be the wild card of the Redskins backfield; he has the talent to be a lead back but he lacks consistency and has yet to find a cure for his fumbilitis. His spot in the running back pecking order will be determined by how he performs in the offseason but he seems destined to enter the season as the team’s third string back. Mack Brown sneaks on the roster as the fourth string running back but is primarily on the roster due to his strong contributions on special teams.
The fullback position is slowly being phased out of the NFL as teams are moving away from traditional ground and pound offenses and moving towards modern spread offenses. The Redskins are no exception; they haven’t carried a fullback on their active roster since they let go of Darrel Young in 2015. Joe Kerridge will earn another invite to Redskins camp this offseason but it is unlikely he will make the final roster as the team does not genuinely need a fullback on their roster.
Wide Receivers (6)
Players: Pierre Garcon, Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder, Maurice Harris, Marquise Goodwin, Ryan Grant
One of the most substantial factors that contributed to the gaudy statistics that Kirk Cousins put up last season was the stellar play of the Redskins wide receiving corps, with the most productive members of that group being the veteran tandem of Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson. With both being unrestricted free agents, the Redskins had to make a tough choice and let DeSean Jackson walk in order to retain Garcon and other key free agents. Replacing Jackson won’t be easy but the team will trust in their young receivers to step up and replace his production as a group. Pierre Garcon will take on extra responsibility as the lone veteran receiver on the roster; he will be tasked with mentoring the Redskins young receivers on top of returning to his role as the number one receiver. Starting opposite Garcon will be 2016 first round pick Josh Doctson, who will be looking to bounce back from an achilles injury that cost him nearly his entire rookie season. Doctson’s health and production will be vital components to the success of the Redskins receiving corps in the upcoming season. Jamison Crowder will hold down his duties as the slot receiver, having solidified his spot due to a breakout season in which he reeled in 67 receptions for 847 yards while simultaneously nearing the top of the league in punt return yardage. The reserves will be comprised of second-year receiver Maurice Harris, free agent acquisition Marquise Goodwin, and Ryan Grant. Harris did not contribute much his rookie season but he flashed his ability in several games, making him a player to watch in going forward. His route running, physicality, and size should help him see the field and make him an intriguing option in the red zone, where the Redskins struggled to score last season. Goodwin comes to the team to bring the much needed speed on the outside that was lost when DeSean Jackson departed via free agency. Goodwin’s speed alone will get him plenty of playing time as having a vertical threat goes a long way in opening up the middle of the field for both the run and pass game. Rounding out the depth chart is Grant, who has been hanging around the fringe of the Redskins roster for a few seasons now. The reason he will continue to stick on the roster is because he is a hard worker, valuable special teams contributor, and versatile player who can line up at any of the receiver positions.
Tight Ends (3)
Players: Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis, Jeremy Sprinkle
The tight ends for the Redskins were a mixed bag last season as Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis had productive campaigns while Niles Paul and Derek Carrier each had injuries at different points in the season and struggled to contribute when healthy. Two of the four return for the 2017 season, leaving an open spot on the depth chart to add fresh blood at the position. Pro Bowl tight end Jordan Reed will more than likely spend the offseason rehabbing the injured shoulder that nagged him down the stretch last season. Reed should be 100 percent when the regular season rolls around, allowing him to continue terrorizing defenses like few can at the tight end position.Backing up Reed is Vernon Davis, who re-signs after a short stint as a free agent, bringing back the Redskins primary blocking tight end and insurance policy should Jordan Reed miss any time due to injury. The newcomer to the group is fifth round draft pick Jeremy Sprinkle, who provides a developmental option at the position and a special teams contributor.
Offensive Tackles (4)
Players: Trent Williams, Morgan Moses, Ty Nsekhe, Jon Heck
Offensive tackle was arguably the Redskins strongest position group on the roster last season; with All-Pro Trent Williams at left tackle, the reliable Morgan Moses at right tackle, and a starting caliber player in Ty Nsekhe at the swing tackle spot. The only player of the group who didn’t contribute much was journeyman Vinston Painter, who served as the team’s fourth tackle. Keeping this group intact should go a long way in ensuring continued strong play from the offensive line and the protection of franchise quarterback Kirk Cousins. Williams and Moses are both under contract for the 2017 season and will no doubt retain their spots as left and right tackle respectively. The swing tackle spot will once again be occupied by Nsekhe after the team extends him a second round tender to ensure his place on the Redskins roster for another season. To add some youth and upside to the bunch, the team spent a sixth round draft pick on right tackle Jon Heck who will replace Vinston Painter as the fourth tackle.
Players: Nico Siragusa, Brandon Scherff, Arie Kouandijo
Guard has been a weakness on the Redskins roster for a number of seasons, however, the drafting of Brandon Scherff in 2015 solidified one of the guard spots for years to come. Unfortunately, the left guard position has remained a weakness with veteran Shawn Lauvao and second-year player Arie Kouandijo not playing up to par. Changes had to be made in order for the group to take a step forward which is why Shawn Lauvao was released and Nico Siragusa was brought in. Brandon Scherff is penciled in as the starting right guard, expect Scherff to continue to build upon his Pro Bowl performance from last season and challenge for All-Pro status.On the other side, Nico Siragusa is slated to become the new starting left guard and his play could be the catalyst needed to take the offensive line to the next level. Siragusa’s biggest contribution will be his run blocking, where his penchant for creating running lanes will help create more consistency in the run game. Backing up both guard positions is third-year pro Arie Kouandijo, who should remain a solid depth option with the ability to start in a pinch.
Players: Spencer Long, John Sullivan
Out with the old and in with the new; long time Redskins starting center Kory Lichtensteiger has called it quits after eight seasons, leaving newly minted center Spencer Long as the favorite to hold down the center position for the upcoming season. With this being Long’s first full season as a full time center, it is unknown how he will perform at the position over the course of a 16 game NFL season. Consequently, it was important to bring back John Sullivan to supply a reliable veteran who can mentor Long and provide high level play if called upon.
Nose Tackle (2)
Players: Jonathan Hankins, Matthew Ioannidis
The Redskins opted to go without a true nose tackle for the majority of the 2016 season and it turned out to be a colossal mistake. It is no coincidence that the Redskins allowed nearly 120 rushing yards per game and generated virtually no interior pass rush this past season. In need of an impactful presence on the inside, the team moved on from Kedric Golston and Ziggy Hood and opted to make a splash by adding Johnathan Hankins in free agency. Hankins can not only come in and start right away for the Redskins, but can also make an immediate impact on the performance of the defensive line as a whole. His impact will come mainly in the run game but he should also be able to free up the pass rush by eating up blockers at the point of attack. Matthew Ioannidis, despite not being a true nose tackle, serves as the backup at the position. Ioannidis makes up for what he lacks in size by utilizing his functional strength, proper angles, and quick release off the snap, all of which make Ioannidis a candidate to replace Hankins on third down and obvious passing situations.
Defensive End (4)
Players: Taco Charlton, Chris Baker, Anthony Lanier, Jeremiah Ledbetter
The defensive end position last season was chock full of aging veterans as Chris Baker (29), Ricky Jean Francois (30), Ziggy Hood (30), and Cullen Jenkins (36) all played significant roles at the position. The only way for the Redskins to improve at the defensive end position is to get younger, which is why Jean Francois, Hood, and Jenkins are no longer with the team. Chris Baker stands as the lone veteran along the defensive line after re-signing as a free agent. He will resume his duties at the right defensive end position, where he will be asked to supply the excellent run defense and underrated pass rush that he has become known for. Opposite Baker will be first round draft pick Taco Charlton, giving the left side of the line a different look as Charlton will be asked to utilize his explosiveness off the edge to get after the quarterback. Second-year player Anthony Lanier will pair with Charlton at the left defensive end position as he looks to build upon the experience he gained his rookie season. Lanier has been praised by several members of the Redskins organization who have pointed to his relentless work ethic and undeniable talent as signs that he will be successful in the NFL; he will get the opportunity to live up to all the praise in the 2017 season with an expanded role in the defense. The final defensive end spot will be held by rookie sixth round draft pick Jeremiah Ledbetter, whose size and strength should allow him to contribute immediately against the run as well as give him the ability to bump inside on four man fronts.
Outside Linebacker (5)
Players: Trent Murphy, Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Junior Galette, Houston Bates
The outside linebacker position has been one of the strongest positions on the roster for a number of years now and thanks to solid drafting, and the savvy free agent acquisition of Junior Galette, the Redskins boast one of the deepest and most talented outside linebacker groups in the NFL. The headliner of the group is Ryan Kerrigan, who has averaged 9.75 sacks per season since entering the league in 2011. Kerrigan can always be counted on to pressure the quarterback from his weak side position and he will continue to do so in the upcoming season. Opposite Kerrigan will be fourth-year linebacker Trent Murphy, who is fresh off the best season of his career in which he posted a career high nine sacks. Murphy’s progression signals that he is ready to become an impact player on the Redskins defense so it is to be expected that the 2016 season should be indicative of Murphy’s performance from here on out. The primary backups, Preston Smith and Junior Galette, will both be expected to fill specific roles as situational pass rushers which will allow them both to focus on what they do best: get after the quarterback. The final player of the group is Houston Bates, who makes the team for his value to the special teams unit but also serves as an insurance policy in the event that Galette suffers a setback at any point.
Inside Linebacker (4)
Players: Raekwon McMillan, Mason Foster, Will Compton, Martrell Spaight
Inside linebacker has been identified as one of the positions most in need of an upgrade this offseason because of uninspiring play at the position the past few seasons. While Will Compton and Mason Foster have played fairly well since taking over as the starting inside linebackers, both players have notable weaknesses that have prevented them from being the long term solutions at the position. As a result, the Redskins elected to choose linebacker Raekwon McMillan in the second round of the draft to take over at the position for the long term. McMillan’s intelligence, leadership, and play calling ability make him the ideal candidate to take over at the “Mike” linebacker spot. Starting alongside McMillan is Mason Foster, the Redskins leading tackler from last season. Foster and McMillan should complement each other well and the combination of the two should help fix the Redskins problems against the run. Will Compton may have lost his starting gig but he still remains a vital part of this defense as a vocal leader and mentor to the stable of young linebackers. Compton will also serve as the first man off the bench should anyone struggle or succumb to injury. Martrell Spaight fills the last inside linebacker spot, looking to continue the progress he showed last season while simultaneously contributing heavily on special teams.
Players: Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland, Kendall Fuller, Quinton Dunbar, Channing Stribling
The Redskins secondary took a step forward last season after the surprising acquisition of Josh Norman, giving the team a top tier cover corner for the first time in a long time. The rest of the group played about as well as could be expected but each of them, with the exception of Greg Toler, has room to grow and develop. Josh Norman is entering his second season with the Redskins as their top dog in the secondary and as one of the best at his position in the entire NFL. Norman’s familiarity and comfort in the defense have grown since joining the team which will show this year with Norman delivering an All-Pro performance. Bashaud Breeland will be in charge of covering the other side of the field, hoping to regain his form after a disappointing 2016 season. Breeland will have a bounce back season in which he starts to provide more consistent high level play opposite Josh Norman. Back as the starting nickel corner will be Kendall Fuller who, despite his up and down play last season, has gained the trust of the coaching staff. Expect Fuller to take a significant step forward this season and cement his position as the starting slot corner. Filling out the rest of the depth chart is converted wide receiver Quinton Dunbar and rookie fourth round pick Channing Stribling. In his third year as a cornerback, Dunbar is expected to continue taking steps forward in his development at the position. He will see increased playing time where he will continue to show off his knack for making plays in big moments. Stribling serves as a depth and developmental option at the position, he will be given time to adjust to the NFL game to prepare him properly instead of throwing him to the wolves.
Free Safety (3)
Players: Marcus Maye, DeAngelo Hall, Will Blackmon
The free safety position was in flux last season after DeAngelo Hall landed on the injured reserve. The Redskins rotated through Duke Ihenacho, Will Blackmon, and Deshazor Everett at the spot throughout the season with less than stellar results. To prevent this from happening again, the Redskins drafted Marcus Maye with their third round pick to stabilize the position long term. Maye is a ready-made NFL safety, with the size, speed, physicality, and instincts to succeed right away as a starting free safety. The Redskins do not currently have a player with his skill set on the roster so his presence should add a new dimension to the defense. Instead of cutting ties with DeAngelo Hall, the team opted to restructure his contract to keep him around for at least another season. There are legitimate questions about if Hall can still play at a high level following his achilles and ACL injuries, however, his leadership and experience will be invaluable in aiding the development of the Redskins young secondary. Finalizing the free safety group is the football swiss army knife Will Blackmon, returning to his role as backup safety, corner, and returner. His ability to contribute in various phases of the game will prove important if injury strikes the secondary as it did last season.
Strong Safety (2)
Players: Su’a Cravens, Lorenzo Jerome
GM Scot McCloughan attempted to solve the Redskins problems at the strong safety position when he signed David Bruton to a three-year deal last offseason. Surprisingly, things did not go as planned as Bruton landed on IR after week 4 and was subsequently released later in the season. This prompted a strong safety carousel to ensue, with Duke Ihenacho and Donte Whitner duking it out for the title of ‘Worst Strong Safety in the NFL’. Fortunately for the Redskins, their strong safety of the future (Su’a Cravens) is already on their roster and has been biding his time for the opportunity to play his natural position. After spending his rookie season at the inside linebacker position, Cravens will make the transition to full-time strong safety for the upcoming season. He will come out the gates and make an immediate impact in all phases of the game, leaving no doubt that he belongs at the strong safety spot going forward. Assigned as the backup strong safety spot is fifth round pick Lorenzo Jerome who will have a considerable transition to undertake; making the transition from the FCS to the NFL. Nevertheless, Jerome has the tools necessary to become a reliable backup and valuable special teams contributor early on.
Players: Dustin Hopkins
Kicking has been an issue that has haunted this team for a long time and despite efforts to fix the problem, it has remained. Dustin Hopkins was supposed to be the answer to those problems after he turned in a solid 2015 season in which he made 25 of 28 field goal attempts and ranking in tenth in touchback percentage on kickoffs. However, Hopkins regressed slightly last season which reignited questions about whether the Redskins should move on and find a better kicker. In spite of these doubts, Hopkins will return to his kicking duties for the 2017 season because he has proven to be a solid kicker and the his ability to generate touchbacks has enormous value to the Redskins special teams unit.
Players: Tress Way
The punting situation for the Redskins has mirrored its kicking situation in many ways over the years as the team has failed to find a reliable player at the position until recently. Tress Way was a godsend when the team acquired him in 2014, leading the league in gross punt average and ranking 10th in net punting average. Since then, Way has seen his stats regress slightly each year and has not been reliable at downing the ball inside the 20 yard line. His job is secure for the upcoming season but he knows if he doesn’t perform better that he is expendable. Because of this, Way will have a better showing this season than he did in the previous two seasons and he may even convince the coaches that he is worthy of being the team’s emergency quarterback.
Long Snapper (1)
Players: Nick Sundberg
The long snapper position is one of the least recognizable on an NFL roster but is one of the more important positions on the special teams unit. When attempting to establish consistency in the kicking and punting game, it is important to have a reliable long snapper to get the ball in the right place to ensure proper execution by the holder, kicker, and punter. Understanding this, the Redskins re-signed long snapper Nick Sundberg to a 4 year/$4.4 million deal to secure his spot as their long snapper going forward. Sundberg will continue to be one of the most reliable players on the roster and can be counted on to provide high-quality play at his position.
Here is how the depth chart looks with the roster as currently constructed:
Players: Cooper Rush (QB), Keith Marshall (RB), Reginald Diggs (WR), Riley Sorenson (C), Joey Mbu (DT), A.J. Wolf (DE), Lynden Trail (OLB), Steven Daniels (ILB), Dashaun Phillips (CB), Deshazor Everett (FS)
Salary Cap Breakdown
Below is the salary cap table based on this roster:
If the Redskins Mock Offseason is any indication, the Redskins roster will be undergoing important changes this offseason. During the mock, the Redskins added eleven new players to their roster, nine through the draft and two through free agency. The starting lineup also underwent serious changes with seven new starters, two on offense and five on defense. Whether all of these moves would have a significant impact on the Redskins fortunes during the 2017 season is unknown, you be the judge.