Tue, 02 Jun 2020

#HailMail: The Redskins Roster Is Starting To Take Shape

Washington Redskins
27 Mar 2020, 16:03 GMT+10

With free agency entering its second full week, Redskins Nation has plenty of questions about the moves that have already been made and those that are yet to come. Here are what fans wanted to know:

After going 3-13, why are the Redskins reluctant to spend money to go after better players in free agency? They are just signing backups. -- Pat C.

This is a fair question. Of the eight official signings the Redskins have made as of Thursday, none were at the top of the free agent market at their respective positions. And while some of them will likely be starters -- namely cornerback Kendall Fuller, free safety Sean Davis and linebacker Thomas Davis Sr. -- their additions were not awe-inspiring.

But just because the Redskins have a lot of cap space big does not mean they should spend it. Head coach Ron Rivera and Vice President of Player Personnel Kyle Smith want "tough, hungry players" with positional versatility, and a lot of these signings fit that mold. Some are backups, sure, but others can develop into significant contributors.

The new coaching staff also wants to know what it has in the players currently on the roster, and what better way to find out than to bring in loads of competition at key positions? That way, they'll know exactly how each player fits into the team's future plans.

Free agency is about making splashy moves; I get that. But there are a multitude of ways to build a roster, and free agency is just a piece of it.

Why don't you spend your money on receivers instead on running backs? We've got Adrian Peterson and Derrius Guice? -- Anonymous

The signings of running backs Peyton Barber and J.D. McKissic, which were officially announced Thursday, centered around depth and competition.

Entering free agency, the Redskins had four running backs on their roster: Adrian Peterson, Derrius Guice, Bryce Love and Josh Ferguson. Peterson just turned 35 years old, and while he's been the Redskins' workhorse over the past two seasons, the team needs other options. Guice is the ideal every-down back, but he's played in five games since being drafted in 2018, while Love missed all of his rookie campaign recovering from a knee injury.

As for Ferguson, who was signed in October, he's amassed 34 yards over three seasons.

In a perfect world, Peterson and Guice would handle most of the rushing duties while Love flashes his potential in spurts. That could still be the case once the 2020 campaign begins.

But the Redskins also need reserves to step in when necessary and to push the proposed starters. Barber and McKissic will do exactly that.

Why did the Redskins sign Peyton Barber? -- Daniel L.

Speaking on Barber specifically, this is a player who has been the focal point of an NFL rushing offense before.

In 2018, he started all 16 games for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and carried the ball 234 times for 871 yards. This past season, his 154 attempts totaled 470 yards.

Barber is an experienced rusher who's mere presence will motivate Guice and Love to work even harder. That's because if either struggles or suffers an injury, the Redskins have a replacement who has shouldered the rushing load before.

I'm curious about the process of player evaluation during the COVID-19 pandemic. I understand film study, but do the coaches do video and FaceTime interviews with the prospects and their school coaches? Are there reviews of medical procedures done with the physicians who performed them? Are they sending out questionnaires to prospects? -- Chuck M.

The local media has not yet spoken to Rivera or any members of the scouting department, so those specific questions have neither been asked or answered.

However, Rivera went on a Charlotte-based radio station on Tuesday to discuss a variety of topics, including how the coronavirus will affect the NFL Draft, which is still on for April 23-25 despite apparent pushback. Rivera said that under these circumstances, franchises will have to rely on their scouting departments more than ever.

We all know that Trent Williams is more than likely going to play somewhere else next year. The Redskins are asking for a second-round pick for him. With all the teams that are showing interest, it would make more sense for the Redskins to get a lower draft pick and a player of need. Why can't the Redskins trade Trent Williams to the Browns for a third-round pick and David Njoku? That will give the Redskins a quality starting tight end and a second third-round pick -- Calvin M.

This is a quality strategy and one the Redskins could have tried to execute. And in the case of the Cleveland Browns and David Njoku, it makes a lot of sense.

The Browns need a left tackle and just made Austin Hooper the highest-paid tight end in the NFL. They have about $48 million in cap space and brought on renowned offensive line coach Bill Callahan, who coached Williams in Washington from 2015-18.

But even if the Browns are willing to give up their third-round pick (74th overall), they might not want to take on Williams' steep contract demands after signing right tackle Jack Conklin to a three-year deal worth about $42 million. There are also several top tackle prospects in this year's draft class; the Browns could take one with the 10th-overall pick.

If and when the Redskins deal Williams, it's looking less and less likely they'll be able to do so for a second-round pick. It may be a third-rounder and a player, just a third-rounder or a combination of later selections.

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