Tuesday, March 15, 2011 11:00 a. m.
By Rich Tandler
REDSKINS REDSKINS VIDEO
Among the Redskins' top needs this offseason is wide receiver. What, youve heard that one before? That is not exactly breaking news. The Redskins have not had a solid wide receiver corps since Gary Clark left via free agency after the 1992 season. Art Monk was shown the door after the 1993 season, the same year that Ricky Sanders signed a free agent deal with the Falcons. That broke up The Posse, the combination of Monk, Clark and Sanders, who combined to catch 1,851 passes for 26,622 yards and 159 touchdowns for the Redskins and were integral parts of two Super Bowl champion teams. None of them left the Redskins on the best of terms, particularly Monk, who wanted to stay, but the Redskins were unable to manage the salary cap in the early days and they let him go. And nearly 20 years after they left, the team has yet to find even two consistently productive wide receivers to match together, let alone three. Many seasons they have been unable to identify even one solid wide-out. Are the Redskins suffering from The Curse of The Posse? They havent failed to build a competent wide receiver corps through a lack of trying. The team has expended a lot of resources in an attempt to assemble one. Here is a look at what the Redskins have done to try to bolster the position and what the results have been. Desmond Howard (first-round pick, fourth overall, in 1992): Joe Gibbs and the Redskins thought that they had the perfect start to the next Posse when they moved up in the draft, giving up the sixth and 28th picks to nab Howard at No. 4. It was later reported that Gibbs immediately became concerned when the Heisman Trophy winner first showed up at Redskins Park with a posse of his own. Howard lasted three seasons and never caught more than 40 passes in a year. The Jaguars took him and his large contract off the Redskins hands in the 1995 expansion draft. Michael Westbrook (first-round pick, fourth overall, in 1995): Norv Turner and Charley Casserly took him with the fourth pick in the draft even though he missed three games because of injury in his senior season, a foreshadowing that the Redskins chose to ignore. Westbrook had great athletic ability, but he was fragile, playing in 16 games in a season just twice, and he had a questionable work ethic and attitude. It seemed like he was enjoying a breakout season in 1999 when had his only 1,000-yard season with 1191, but he suffered a knee injury in the second game of the next season and that just about did it for him. Rod Gardner (first-round pick, 15th overall, in 2001): Santana Moss (more on him later) and guard Steve Hutchinson were the next two players drafted after Marty Schottenheimer tabbed Gardner. He had good size at 6 feet 2, and he was reasonably athletic. But it seemed he was just as likely to drop an on-target pass as he was to catch it, and he earned the moniker 50-50 to reflect his chances of making the catch. After four forgettable seasons he sneaked over 1,000 yards in a season just once, getting 1,006 in 2002 he basically whined his way out of town, claiming to be unhappy in Joe Gibbs offense. Gardner caught just 15 passes with three teams in two years before fading from the NFL for good. Laveranues Coles (35 million restricted free-agent contract, with 13 million guaranteed, plus a first-round pick, 13th overall, in 2003): In Coles first season, this looked like a good deal for the Redskins as he went to the Pro Bowl after catching 82 passes for 1,204 yards (14.7 yards per catch). After his second season, when his average per catch dropped to 10.6 yards, Coles expressed unhappiness with Gibbs offense and said he wanted out. After a long, drawn-out drama during which Dan Snyder reportedly told Coles that he was going nowhere and that the team would send him a flat-screen TV on which to watch the games, Coles was shipped back to the Jets in exchange for Moss. Coles did not repay any of his guaranteed money to get his request to leave the Redskins, so it adds up a heavy price for two years, even when you factor in that the Redskins landed Moss in the trade. Santana Moss (Coles trade): Moss has been the teams best wide receiver since the early 1990s with 442 receptions for 6,142 yards and 33 touchdowns in six seasons. Still, he would have been no better than the third or even the fourth wide receiver if he had played with Monk, Clark and Sanders. Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly (second-round picks, 34th and 51st overall, respectively, in 2008): The two names are forever linked after being taken along with tight end Fred Davis in the second round in 2008 after the Redskins traded away their first-round pick for the Falcons two seconds (for the record, Thomas and Davis were taken with Atlantas picks, Kelly with the Redskins original second-rounder). Kellys future is very much up in the air after he missed all of last year with a hamstring pull and Thomas work ethic wasnt up to Mike Shanahans standards, leading to his release. The fact that Eagles Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson was on the board when both Thomas and Davis were picked adds to the frustration and futility. On other occasions, the Redskins tried and failed to bolster their receiver corps. Most famously, they did so in a big way before the 2008 draft by proposing a deal to Cincinnati for Chad Ochocinco (then known as Chad Johnson). The Redskins offered their first pick in that draft plus a 2009 conditional pick that would have been a third-round pick at a minimum and a first-rounder if certain performance incentives were met. The Bengals turned the Redskins down. In addition to those listed above, the Redskins have drafted 12 receivers since 1992. Among that group, only Albert Connell (Round 4, 115th overall, 1997) caught more than 60 career passes. The list includes five who never played a down in the NFL plus notable disappointments such as Taylor Jacobs (Round 2, 44th, 2003), Cliff Russell (Round 3, 87th, 2002), and Tydus Wynans (Round 3, 68th, 1997). Rich Tandler blogs about the Redskins at www.RealRedskins.com. Contact him at RTandlerCSN@comcast.net.