The Redskins went against the grain in building their receiving corps, as they are without a true number 1 WR, and might not even have a top tier number 2 receiver. And this is despite re-signing Santana Moss and drafting Leonard Hankerson in the 3rd round last year, and paying big money to Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan this season. Instead the Redskins have four receivers all capable of being 2nd tier receivers. It is a strategy that goes against traditional NFL thinking in today’s passing age, which places a premium on difference making wideouts. The problem for the Redskins is that to land a top tier receiver you typically have to overpay in free agency or the draft to land them, and the results aren’t always favorable.
Take for instance this offseason when the big fish was Vincent Jackson, and the Redskins ‘settled’ for Pierre Garcon instead. Now all things being equal, Jackson is the better receiver, with a size/speed combo that few can match. But all things aren’t equal, and that is where the Redskins may have come out ahead. Jackson, who has both off the field issues and locker room concerns following him, signed for 5 years $55.5 million, Garcon signed for $13 million less over the same time period, and is over 3 and a half year’s younger than Jackson. That $13 million difference was what the Redskins used to invest in another WR, by signing Josh Morgan to a 2 year $12 million deal. That means the Redskins will get a combined 7 years of production from two receivers, for slightly less than the Buccaneers paid Jackson. Now some may still prefer to have the better single receiver over a pair of good receivers, but it was a smart move for the Redskins.
Not only did they have the cap penalty bearing down on them, but move up to land Robert Griffin, the Redskins will be without three premium picks, making it harder to find receiver help. If the Redskins just signed Jackson, they wouldn’t have been able to further address the receiver position this offseason. And while Jackson would be a tempting target, the overall receiving corps would have suffered.
In addition to Garcon and Morgan, the Redskins can utilize both Hankerson and Moss this season. Moss appears to have regained his quickness, and is probably the Redskins best route runner. His experience can be a huge asset to not only RGIII, but the new wide receivers as well. He figures to work in the slot, where he can hopefully create mismatches and force greater coverage inside, which can open things up outside for Garcon. Moss is not without some issues (most notably dropped passes), but he can still be fairly productive. Hankerson is more of an unknown, but he offers a nice size/speed combo, and could find himself a good red zone threat. He’s still recovering from an injury, so he may not be a full starter, but he provides another quality weapon.
Combined the four receivers complement each other fairly well. Morgan and Hankerson are more physical receivers (though both have good speed), while Garcon is a good deep threat. Add in Moss working underneath, and the production potential is promising. In fact the toughest thing may be finding enough touches for all these guys. Typically for a team like the Redskins that feature both their TE and running backs, its tough to have enough targets to share for just three guys, much less four. I wouldn’t expect there to be much of an issue (outside of fantasy football perspective), as Mike Shanahan will find away to keep everyone involved. Now there is always a risk that this doesn’t pan out, but I think the Redskins were smart for not putting all of their eggs in one basket.