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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.

In case you missed it 

 

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Redskins-Cardinals injury report: Reed out, seven questionable

Redskins-Cardinals injury report: Reed out, seven questionable

Redskins

Out

TE Jordan Reed (shoulder)—The word heroic is thrown around too often when talking about what athletes do, in light if what, say, first responders do every day. But Reed playing in the second half out of the Dallas game with a third-degree AC joint sprain certainly was remarkable. But Gruden said that Reed won’t have sufficient range of motion in the shoulder or range of motion to be able to go against the Cardinals.

DE Anthony Lanier (leg)—The reserve lineman missed the second half of the Dallas game with a leg contusion. Gruden said he was kicked in the lower leg against the Cowboys and the swelling is still an issue.

Questionable

LS Nick Sundberg (back)—He tweaked his back in the weight room before the Packers game and missed that game and the one against the Cowboys. He was a full go in practice all week and will return against the Cardinals.

G Brandon Scherff (ankle)—He has been limited in practice during the week but it seems certain that he will go against the Cardinals.

T Ty Nsekhe (ankle)—Ditto comment on Scherff above.

CB Bashaud Breeland (ankle)—He suffered the injury in practice this week and he was limited in practice on Thursday.

RB Chris Thompson (illness)—He was limited in practice during the week but he said in the locker room he will have his usual role on Sunday.

Also questionable for the Redskins: ILB Terence Garvin (shoulder) and DE Ricky Jean Francois (knee)

Cardinals

Check back for the Cardinals injury update after they release their report later this afternoon.

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Jordan Reed ruled out for Redskins vs. Cardinals; Vernon Davis set for start

Jordan Reed ruled out for Redskins vs. Cardinals; Vernon Davis set for start

After separating his shoulder against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, Jordan Reed has officially been ruled out for the Redskins game in Arizona. 

Friday, coach Jay Gruden said Reed doesn't have sufficient range of motion to play against the Cardinals but remains hopeful he'll be healthy for the following game against the Eagles. Reed estimated that range was at about 30 percent Monday.

The decision to sit Reed against the Cardinals comes with little surprise. The 'Skins star tight end did not practice all week, even after having a few extra days to rest after the game last Thursday.

Playing without Reed is obviously a blow to the Washington offense, but No. 2 tight end Vernon Davis has been a strong development for Gruden's team this year. Thursday, Gruden and offensive coordinator Sean McVay said that while losing Reed is a blow to the unit, the team can run almost all of the same plays and sets with Davis that they can with Reed. 

"Fortunately you’re in a situation where you feel really good about your tight end in Vernon Davis where he’s playing at an extremely high level in both phases in the run and in the pass game," McVay said.

As good as Davis has been, he's not the dynamic threat Reed presents. In the second half against Dallas — while playing with the injured shoulder — Reed hauled in two touchdowns and played arguably the best football of his career.

On the season Reed has 59 catches for 630 yards and five touchdowns despite missing two games earlier this year dealing with a concussion.

Davis has played in all 11 games this season and has 31 catches for 450 yards and two TDs. 

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