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Need to Know: Why did the Redskins wait to release Roberts?

Need to Know: Why did the Redskins wait to release Roberts?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, May 18, six days before the Washington Redskins start OTAs.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 129 days ago. It will be 117 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: OTAs start 76; Redskins training camp starts 71; Preseason opener @ Falcons 85

The big story—Roberts released

Redskins fans don’t agree on much. But they all agreed that they wanted Andre Roberts to be gone. And on Tuesday they all got their one, unifying wish.

Why did the Redskins wait to release him when it was obvious that he wasn’t in the team’s plans for quite some time? According to Adam Caplan of ESPN the Redskins were trying to trade him. Even though the asking price likely was quite low—something like a swap of sixth- and seventh-round picks possibly would have done it—there were no takers. With his contract calling for him to make $4 million in each of the next two years, that’s not surprising. Often teams might be interested in dealing for a player but will have no interest in trading for his contract.

It was a similar situation to what we saw with Robert Griffin III over the month of February. It seemed inevitable that he was going to be released but the Redskins held on to him in hopes that a team would call and want to make a deal for Griffin and his $16 million contract. They knew the odds were long but it didn’t cost them anything to hang on to Griffin just in case one of 31 GM’s out there lost his mind.

His departure doesn’t rattle the depth chart at all. Jamison Crowder’s play at slot receiver sent Roberts to the sideline long before a knee injury did. After they drafted Josh Doctson they had him and six returning receivers on the roster. The team usually carries six receivers on the 53-man roster and Roberts was the odd man out.

So why did the Redskins sign Roberts to being with? In 2013 they had Pierre Garçon coming off of a season where he caught a team-record 113 passes. That was good and bad. Good because it meant that Garçon was a reliable target but bad because it indicated a lack of alternatives. The 35-year-old Santana Moss was second in receptions among wide receivers with 45. Josh Morgan started seven games and caught 30 passes, Leonard Hankerson started seven and caught just 20 passes. They decided they needed a solid No. 2 receiver.

The Redskins didn’t have a first-round draft pick due to the Griffin trade so they went to free agency in their first and only year with Bruce Allen in charge of personnel. Before free agency actually opened, they agreed to a deal with Roberts, who was coming off of a down season in Arizona. The contract, which was for $16 million over four years with $8 million guaranteed, looked like one that was agreed to without much negotiation.

We’ll never really know if Roberts would have lived up to the contract because less than a month after he signed the Eagles released DeSean Jackson and the Redskins moved swiftly to bring him to Washington.

That deprived Roberts of his chance to be the No. 2 receiver. But he did get to play in the slot and that got him 721 snaps. He turned that opportunity into a paltry 36 pass receptions.

The Redskins may have moved on from him a year ago but his $2.75 million salary was guaranteed and that plus the $3 million proration left on his signing bonus made the dead cap hit prohibitive.

Update: Per the NFL transaction report the Redskins did not designate Roberts' termination as a post-June 1 move. That means that the Redskins save $3 million off of the cap after accounting for $2 million in dead cap. They will not be charged any thing for Roberts' contract in 2017.

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