The conventional wisdom floating around is that Brandon Banks made the 2012 Redskins roster on Saturday night when the fielded a punt at the nine, followed his blocking to the right, turned on the jets and rolled 91 yards for a touchdown.A team that has struggled on offense in recent times and is starting a rookie quarterback certainly needs all of the field position advantage it can get. You cant let go of someone like Banks, who can flip field position in a heartbeat, can you?Mike Shanahan was asked that yesterday. At first he seemed to agree with the notion that Banks is a lock to make the 53.When a guy has game-breaking potential and ability, which he has shown, it is tough not to keep a guy like that, he said.In his next breath, however, Shanahan hit the brakes on the idea that Banks has it made.But we have a lot of competition and that is what you want to have, he said. Who else can return punts? Who else can play wide receiver? That is what you have to evaluate and sometimes you let some good football players go.So perhaps some other players will return some punts in the remaining two preseason games. Rookie cornerback Richard Crawford got a shot against the Bills and he acquitted himself well with three returns for an average of 14 yards. Receiver Aldrick Robinson line up to catch punts during training camp and it wouldnt be surprising to see him get a few returns.Banks did not do well when the team tried to see what he could do at receiver against the Bills. He was targeted nine times and caught just two passes for seven yards. But not all of the passes counted as Banks targets were really catchable and he has been playing well at receiver in practice. He should get more time there to show what he can do.It seems that Shanahan was not bluffing in the spring when the said that Banks would have to contribute at wide receiver if he wants to be a part of the 2012 Redskins. It looks like Banks will have to show something at receiver if he wants to guarantee himself a spot on the roster.What do you think? Does Banks have a roster spot in the bag? Should he? Let us know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @Rich_Tandler.
Over the next few weeks, JP Finlay and Rich Tandler will grade each position group’s performance in 2016, break down the current personnel situation and evaluate the unit's outlook for 2017.
Starters: Duke Ihenacho, Will Blackmon
Backups: Deshazor Everett, Josh Evans
Injured/Reserve/Waived: Donte Whitner, DeAngelo Hall, David Bruton
Free Agents: Duke Ihenacho, Whitner
Rewind: The Redskins tried to get by in 2016 without a serious investment in the safety position. In August the plan was for Washington to start DeAngelo Hall and David Bruton at the safety spots. Hall suffered an injury in Week 3, Bruton in Week 4, and neither player would return.
Bruton's play was never starter level, and his replacement for many snaps came in the form of Donte Whitner. Once a great player, Whitner was past his prime, and though he got a ton of action for the 'Skins, was often a liability. Ihenacho missed tackles, but curiously got fewer snaps than Whitner. Deshazor Everett flashed in his few opportunities with the defense, but also rarely got snaps. Blackmon made some plays and gave some up, but fought injuries and was converting to the saftey position from corner for the first time in his 10-year career.
Fast forward: One big piece of the safety puzzle should come with Su'a Cravens' move from linebacker to safety. A physical, intelligent player, as a rookie Cravens proved a nose for the ball and a sure tackler. He will help the 'Skins in the back of the defense. What player lines up next to him will be a major question. Cravens does not have elite speed, and Washington will need to pair him with a safety that can handle deep middle coverage.
It's very hard to see Bruton or Whitner back on the roster in 2017, and Ihenacho seems like a long shot as well. After dealing with injuries for multiple seasons, Hall will need to rework his deal to stay with the 'Skins, something the veteran admitted in his locker clean out interview with the media.
Blackmon has another year left on his deal, and is a versatile option for the 'Skins defense. His natural position, however, is corner, and the 'Skins should effort to get Blackmon back on the outside of their defense. Everett deserved to play more than Whitner late in 2016, but didn't, which creates questions. Everett should at least get a chance to compete for more playing time in 2017. There is also speculation that Bashaud Breeland could transition to safety, but that seems far fetched.
It's important the Redskins look to bolster the safety position this offseason, be it in free agency or the draft. After the defensive line, safety may be the greatest position of need for Washington. Cravens has all the tools to be great, but he still is a young player with zero NFL experience in the secondary. Scot McCloughan should take steps to cement a solid player next to Cravens, as well as more depth at the position to sustain injuries, like what happened in 2016.
There may not be much drama when the March 1 franchise tag deadline comes around. It appears that a Kirk Cousins tag is inevitable.
According to a Pro Football Talk report, Cousins will not sign a long-term deal prior getting tagged by the Redskins. PFT cited a source with knowledge of the situation.
This is not exactly a surprising report. The situation has seemed to be destined to reach this point since minutes after the Redskins’ final game of the season when Cousins, whose one-year franchise tag deal expired when the game ended, was asked if he wanted to remain in Washington.
“It’s really not my decision to make,” he said. “They chose to tag me and the same is true this year, so if they don’t choose to tag me then I think that question is answered at that point, but right now the ball’s not in my court.”
RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0
Actually, the ball is in his court; he could instruct his agent to hammer out the best deal he can get to stay in Washington and then sign it. But apparently, he will choose the tag, a solid business decision for a number of reasons.
For one thing, if he gets tagged and quickly signs the tender as he did last year he would guarantee a salary of $23.94 million, a 20 percent raise over the $19.95 million he earned last year. If he plays out the season on the tag he would be virtually guaranteed of never getting tagged again since such a move would give him a 44 percent raise over his previous year’s cap number. The number is designed to make a third tag cost prohibitive and it does.
For the team’s part, there have been scattered reports that some in the Redskins organization pushed for letting Cousins hit the open market and letting his value be determined there. But that changed after Kyle Shanahan, the Redskins’ offensive coordinator for the first two years of Cousins’ career and a big Cousins fan, became the head coach of the 49ers. There is no question that San Francisco would make a strong play for Cousins and the most likely scenario now is that the will tag him.
More Redskins: Under the radar issues
Where does this go after Cousins is tagged? The Redskins would have until July 15 to sign him to a long-term contract. It would still take a strong offer for the team to keep Cousins around for the long term.
Team president Bruce Allen seems to be optimistic about getting a deal done eventully.
"I don’t think it’s as complicated as everyone wants to make it,” he said earlier this month. “And we’ll get together with his agent, and I’m sure we’ll come to an agreement."
That remains to be seen. The only thing that seems certain in this saga is that it won’t be coming to a resolution any time soon.