Safety DeJon Gomes has an excellent opportunity in front of him and it would help both him and the Redskins if he could take advantage of it.A fifth-round pick in last years draft, Gomes played enough to get his feet very wet in 2011. He appeared in 15 games, getting in on defense in eight of them. Gomes first start came in Week 11 against the Cowboys and he played 74 of the 77 defensive snaps, posting seven tackles, three assists, and two quarterback hurries.He started the last four games of the season, playing 122 of 249 snaps. Gomes never did match the solid performance he turned in during that Dallas debut but his play was passable for a rookie.This year, starting safeties LaRon Landry and O. J. Atogwe are gone. However, Gomes play was not good enough to cause the Redskins to immediately promote him to the starting job. The team brought in free agents Tanard Jackson, Brandon Meriweather, and Madieu Williams and drafted Jordan Bernstine in the seventh round. It will be a challenge for Gomes to make the team and to get as much playing time as he did last year.It seems a good bet that Jackson, who played for defensive backs coach Raheem Morris in Tampa Bay, will get one of the starting safety jobs. Meriweather might be penciled in for the other one at this point in time but Gomes, Williams, and Reid Doughty will all have an opportunity to knock him out of the job before training camp is over.Since the NFL lockout wiped out the offseason program last year, Gomes needs to take full advantage of it this year. He has looked fine during OTAs but, as Mike Shanahan always says, you cant judge running backs or safeties until they put the pads on. That wont happen until training camp starts in late July.He will be one to watch during training camp. If Gomes can build on what he learned last year during the offseason this year and put everything together in August he has a chance to get a lot of playing time and perhaps even start a lot of games.Even if Gomes cant nail down a starting job in 2012 he could prepare himself to get one next year. Williams, Meriweather, and Jackson all signed one-year contracts and none of them is necessarily considered to be a long-term solution. If Gomes can be a solid role player this year he could set himself up well for the future.That would be good not only for Gomes but for the team. They will be operating with a reduced salary cap next year and if they can fill a starting job with a player who is making around the third-year minimum salary of 630,000 they will have more money to work with elsewhere.
Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, August 17, 16 days before the Washington Redskins cut their roster to 53 on September 2.
The Redskins last played a game 228 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 24 days.
Today’s schedule: Practice 11:55 1.m.; Jay Gruden news conference and player availability after practice, approx. 2 p.m.
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 2
—Redskins @ Rams (9/17) 31
—Sunday night Raiders @ Redskins (9/24) 38
Grading the Redskins’ free agents
Yesterday, colleague JP Finlay posted his grades on the Redskins’ rookies based on how they have performed since training camp started. Here, I’m going to do the same thing with the unrestricted free agents the Redskins signed this offseason.
ILB Zach Brown, B+—The only Pro Bowl player among the free agents signed, Brown has taken some time to find his niche in the defense. While many fans lamented that he didn’t start against the Ravens, he got more playing time because he went in with the second unit. In 12 snaps he had two tackles, including one for a loss. His grade could well improve over the coming weeks.
ILB Chris Carter, C—He was signed eight days before they got the opportunity to snag Brown so he must fight his way off the bubble. The former Steeler, Bengal, Colt, and Raven has not done much to turn heads but, to be fair, he likely was thought of as more of a special teams signing. There isn’t much you can do to distinguish yourself there in practice. That is the way he will have to make the team.
DE Terrell McClain, C—To be fair, it’s hard to judge the defensive line because of the way that Jim Tomsula rotates his players. I’d note a good play by McClain and then realize that it was against the third-string offense and a tackle who isn’t going to make the team. He got a quarterback hurry in 14 snaps against the Ravens. While he has had his moments, his play does not consistently pop.
DE Stacy McGee, C—As with McClain, how he performed in camp often was a function of who he was facing. He made a key mistake against the Ravens, lining up improperly and giving the Ravens the opportunity to turn a missed field goal into a touchdown. The former Raider played 15 snaps and did not show up on the stat sheet for anything other than the penalty. The Redskins should expect for the $9 million in contract guarantees they doled out to McGee.
WR Brian Quick, C—The ex-Ram was largely invisible in the offseason program but he became more productive as camp went on. Against the Ravens, he caught all three passes that were thrown to him and he will need to keep up that type of performance if he is going to beat out rookie Robert Davis for the last receiver roster spot.
MORE REDSKINS: Must-see photos from Redskins vs. Ravens
WR Terrelle Pryor, A—I don’t think there is a whole lot more to say about him that hasn’t already been said. Pryor has been standing out since the first day and things have gone up from there, thanks to his improving chemistry with Kirk Cousins.
S D.J. Swearinger, A—Even the most confident players can take a while to assume a leadership role when coming from a new team, especially at age 25 with a history of being with his fourth team in his fifth year in the NFL. Not Swearinger. He has embraced the role and has taken charge of the secondary, shouting encouragement to the defense, giving friendly taunts to the offense and taking young players aside to correct their mistakes.
NT Phil Taylor, B—Technically Taylor was not a UFA. He was not on a team at the end of the 2016 season so when he signed in January he was signed to a futures contract or, in the more common vernacular, as a “street” free agent. He has come back well after two years out of football. In 12 snaps against the Ravens, he was stout against the run and got a QB pressure.
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In case you missed it
- Practice report: Doctson, Smith return to action
- Battle at starting linebacker alive and well, says Gruden
- Should the Redskins hit more in practice?
- The pace picks up as the Redskins return to Ashburn
- Redskins rookie report card
No NFL organization has transitioned or ever will transition from one season to the next while staying entirely intact. Not even the perfect Patriots keep every single player, coach and executive from the year before, as free agents must be let go and decision-makers are pushed out of the door for perceived better options.
The 2017 Redskins look much different than the 2016 Redskins, for example, who looked much different than the 2015 Redskins, and so on and so forth. But which of the people that Washington recently allowed to leave will they end up missing the most? Who are the guys that the team could seriously regret not making more of an effort to retain?
Let's rank some of the biggest names.
(Note: This list is solely made up of names that the Redskins chose to not bring back. Sean McVay, for example, was hired away from Washington and therefore isn't found below. Meanwhile, players like Duke Ihenacho and David Bruton, who were not re-signed, won't be listed because the Redskins won't exactly miss them)
6. Kedric Golston
With Golston no longer around, DeAngelo Hall presently holds the title of longest-tenured Redskin. And while the now-34-year-old Golston is coming off a severe hamstring injury and never was a major producer in terms of stats, his teammates constantly mentioned him as one of the strongest and most-respected figures in D.C., someone they could count on to set an example.
Of course, Washington needed to perform a major overhaul of their defensive line, and getting rid of the aging Golston was something that needed to happen. But dropping a player who had been with the 'Skins for a decade and who knew the Burgundy and Gold as well as anybody could end up having some smaller, unforeseen consequences, particularly off the field.
5. Ricky Jean Francois
Jean Francois had a similar reputation to Golston's — that of a leader on defense. He's only 30, however, meaning he should have much more left to contribute in his future than Golston, and the Redskins knew what they had in him, compared to newer defensive linemen who'll replace him such as Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain.
RJF is far from a stud, yes, but he played in all 32 games with Washington in his two seasons with the franchise and has established himself as a winner in the NFL. There's a decent chance the front office is eventually disappointed with its decision to not keep Jean Francois, who's now in Green Bay, over its recent additions.
4. Chris Baker
Baker is easily the most useful defender that the Redskins didn't re-sign this past offseason. He was open in his desire to stay, and the two sides did have some talks about a return, but ultimately, the Redskins didn't make much of an effort to make one happen. Now, Swaggy is in Tampa Bay.
In many other cities, Baker wouldn't have been the best D-lineman on the roster. But he certainly was while playing in the nation's capital the past few campaigns, and if Jim Tomsula's bunch has a repeat of the issues the unit had in 2016, many will point to the lack of pursuit for Baker as a mistake. He and Jonathan Allen would've formed a pretty nice duo, but now, guys like Allen, Matt Ioannidis and Anthony Lanier must grow up quickly in his absence.
3. Pierre Garçon
Garçon feels like the type of player that fans and coaches miss pretty soon after they see what life is like without him. He rarely made game-altering catches, but when it came to important third downs, fighting for some extra yards or setting the tone with his intensity, few in the league were more dependable than No. 88.
The 31-year-old is back with Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco, and the reason many aren't too worried about his departure is because of Josh Doctson, who should slide in and fill Garçon's role while hopefully becoming a more dynamic threat. Docston's health and capacity to adapt to the pro game is a large wild card, however, and Garçon was anything but with the Redskins.
2. Scot McCloughan
The only non-player to make this list, but deservedly so. The ex-GM had a hand in crucial moves like the drafting of Brandon Scherff and Jamison Crowder, the signings of Josh Norman, Will Blackmon, Mason Foster and more, and was vital when it came to pushing the organization back into a place where it was relevant.
Yet McCloughan is gone now, after having been fired in March. It could be difficult to truly quantify his loss, since it can't be measured in touchdowns or tackles, but odds are the Redskins will feel it at all levels.
1. DeSean Jackson
The first four ex-Redskins mentioned will likely be missed to some extent, but at least they have pretty clear successors. McCloughan and Jackson, though? Those are two talents that are very rare.
Jackson's speed transformed matchups in a matter of seconds; there'd be weeks where it'd look like the 'Skins had nothing going, and one 60-yard pass later, they'd be on their way to a victory. The attention he attracted also made Jordan Reed, Crowder and others more effective. And Kirk Cousins hasn't known what it's like to be a starter for a full year without Jackson on the outside for most of it.
Terrelle Pryor's had an excellent camp, and Crowder and Doctson are attractive targets, too. Unfortunately, none of them have an all-time skill like Jackson does, and while it would've been tough to match the Bucs' pricey offer for him, the Redskins may realize in a hurry that his ability was worth everything else he came with.