When the Redskins released longtime tight end Chris Cooley on August 28, both the team and the player left the door open for a possible return.Next week, the sides plan to discuss such a scenario, Coach Mike Shanahan said Friday afternoon.General Manager Bruce Allen first broached the subject during a speaking engagement at the National Press Club, saying, Yes, absolutely that door is still open. We have a meeting next week.Asked to expand on Allens comments later, Shanahan said the team is weighing its options with regard to Cooley.Yeah, Im not sure when that is, Shanahan said of the meeting. To be honest with you, Ive been pretty busy this week getting ready for a game. But weve always left the door open for Chris.When Cooley gave his tear-filled goodbye 10 days ago in Ashburn, the Redskins said the move was made so that the loyal veteran of eight seasons could explore the possibility of starting for another team. The Redskins are committed to starting Fred Davis.Cooley hired an agent, but as of Friday afternoon had not signed with another team. The 30-year-old Leesburg, Va. resident told The Washington Post Friday afternoon that he was unaware a meeting had been scheduled for next week but was open to discussing a possible return to the team that drafted him in the third round in 2004. Cooley's agent, David Dunn, did not immediately return a phone call.It gave him an opportunity to see if theres anything where hes got a chance to start, Shanahan said. Thats the main thing. Hes going to weigh his options. Im sure hes looking at his options with different teams right now. Who needs a tight end? Whats going to happen maybe after this week? Probably weigh all of his options, and well look at our options as well. We have three tight ends, so its not like were very deep at the position. And with one fullback, its not very deep.The Redskins would have to move another player on the 53-man roster if they were to bring back Cooley, which at this point still seems like a long-shot. When Cooley was released, he counted 6.23 million against the Redskinss salary cap. If hes resigned, his salary would be more inline with an aging reserve player and it would not be guaranteed.There are a lot of possibilities, Shanahan said. I cant tell you for sure whats going to happen at this time. But wed like to have as many options as possible. As you mentioned, well get a chance to talk next week.
It seems likely the Redskins stand to lose one or both of receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon in free agency. That could mean more than 2,000 yards receiving exiting the offense, a significant blow.
Could Bears wideout Alshon Jeffery come to Washington and cushion the blow?
Multiple reports say that Chicago will not put the franchise tag on Jeffery, which means the 6-foot-4 receiver will hit the open market when free agency opens in a little more than a week. Coming off consectuive injury-marred seasons, still expect the market to be ripe for the former South Carolina star.
A five-year veteran that will turn 28 in August, Jeffery posted more than 2,500 receiving yards in the 2013 and 2014 seasons to go with 17 touchdowns. An extremely gifted red zone receiver, Jeffery is one of the best in the league at high-pointing the football and coming down with circus catches. His last two seasons, however, the Bears wideout only played in 21 of 32 games and his numbers dipped dramatically: just over 1,600 yards and six TDs combined.
Though Washington will likely lose at least one of Garçon or Jackson, and very possibly both, that does not necessarily make Jeffery a prime target.
Expect cost to be a major factor as the Chicago receiver will likely command the top free agent payout at the position. And his recent injury history could be a factor as well.
Further, the Redskins must believe they have a No. 1 receiver already in house in Josh Doctson. The No. 22 overall pick in 2016, Doctson hardly played as a rookie due to an Achilles injury but appears to be progressing well in his rehab. At 6-foot-2 and extremely athletic, Doctson was drafted to be a prime red zone target with the ability to go up and get TDs.
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Many Redskins fans have been keeping a close eye on the Chiefs all offseason. Kansas City has two pending free agents in positions that are of great need to Washington. Fans have been watching since January to see what the Chiefs would do with safety Eric Berry and defensive lineman Dontari Poe. They may have their answer.
The organization’s hope was that they could sign one and use the franchise tag on the other. But with the deadline for the tag two days from now and with free agency starting in 10 days, it appears that plan is not going to happen. They are forced to decide and per Ed Werder of ESPN they are going to tag Berry and let Poe test free agency.
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Poe is a load at 6-3, 348. His impact is hard to measure in numbers; he has just 13 sacks in his five NFL seasons including two in the last two years. The Chiefs first-round pick out of Memphis in the 2012 draft has forced two fumbles and recovered one. But he is exactly what a defense like the Redskins’ 4-3 scheme needs in the middle to eat up double teams and keep blockers off the linebackers. They would go from having had no credible nose tackle in the seven seasons they have been in the 3-4 base defense to having one who at age 26 is of the very best in the league.
The problem with acquiring the best in the business is that you must pay top dollar. The contracts signed by Marcell Dareus of the Bills, a six-year deal with an average annual value of $15.8 million and Fletcher Cox of the Eagles, who signed a six-year extension with an AAV of $17.1, will be used as guidelines for a Poe free agent deal.
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The Redskins possibly could make that work but it would be a stretch. They already have a top-heavy salary structure with their top three players taking up 35 percent of the salary cap. Another cap hit in the $15 million range would put them in a precarious spot.
It seems unlikely that the Redskins will be real players in the Poe sweepstakes but given that he would be a perfect solution to a long-standing problem area it’s worth keeping an eye on the situation.