The Redskins 90 man offseason roster will really take shape with next weeks draft and undrafted free agent signings. Currently they have 73 guys signed, though if they want to make extra room for draft picks/UDFA’s there are plenty of guys they could easily cut. While we will get into predictions about who will be on the final roster, today I wanted to take a look at how many players at each position the Redskins should look to keep as a target, with some of the reasons why.
While it is a 53 man roster, three of the spots are locked for the kicker, punter, and long snapper. That leaves 50 spots to split between the offense and defense. While it sounds like a simple split of 25 and 25, many times you will see a team favor keeping 26 players on one side of the ball (typically offense), and in some cases 27 players. Beyond that you are really risking your depth on the other side of the football. Here are tentative roster spots I’d look for on offense next year.
-Now I know many people like the 2011 idea of having only 2 quarterbacks on the roster, and it makes some logical sense. Back-up and third string quarterbacks are the one position that have basically zero special teams utility (they are the back-up holder, that is about the best you can say about them). That being said though I don’t see how there is any chance the Redskins can afford to keep just 2 quarterbacks on the roster. Even if Robert Griffin III was fully healthy, it would be a risk to keep only two guys. Griffin’s style of play means he’s going to get hit more, which makes him more susceptible to injuries (both minor and serious), also he does have an injury history further proving the point. Having a third quarterback on the roster is basically a necessity for the Redskins going forward. This year with Griffin returning from a major knee injury, it is a mortal lock that the Redskins will keep three quarterbacks.
-Most will say that only three running backs are enough, but the reality is it’s not the case. Each year of the Mike Shanahan era (and honestly before that as well) the Redskins went into the season carrying three running backs, yet every season the Redskins have had to pick up at least two running backs off the waiver wire or practice squad. What’s even worse is that even with the additions the Redskins have gone stretches these last three years with just 1 or 2 backs even partially healthy. Last year the Redskins were lucky that Alfred Morris didn’t sustain any even minor injuries, because beyond him they had nothing substantial to replace him. Evan Royster was the best they had and he was nursing his own injuries, and wouldn’t have been able to maintain anything close to Morris’s workload. Given how much the Redskins run, and how important it is to their offense, they would be wise to break camp with four running backs.
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–Darrel Young has this spot locked down, and it is clear that the fullback position is important to the Redskins attack. While they don’t need a true second fullback, expect them to ensure that one of their running backs or tight ends could play in this role if Young were to go down (or in jumbo packages). So while they shouldn’t keep a true back-up, they need to have some options.
-The tight end position is another big part of the Redskins offense as they run two TE sets about 30-35% of the time. Usually they bring in the second tight end as a blocker (both run and pass), and will also utilize one of their tight ends in the backfield with some of their Pistol formations. Though they don’t typically throw to more than their primary tight end option, it’s important that the Redskins have at least two competent TE’s. Depth is also very much a concern given that projected starter Fred Davis is coming off an Achilles injury, which typically slows down players for at least that first season following the injury.
-While many teams can get away with just 5 wide receivers, the Redskins seem likely to keep 6. They’ve kept at least 6 wide receivers in each of Shanahan’s three years here, and twice that didn’t even include return “specialist” Brandon Banks. Though they are parting ways with Banks, six wide receivers is once again likely. The Redskins don’t have elite wide receivers like Calvin Johnson, Roddy White, etc who never leave the field. Instead they like to mix and match their receivers to play the match-ups and keep their guys fresh. So despite the fact that the Redskins might not throw the ball too much, they are likely going to want to rotate some guys in and out of the game. The Redskins could also look to keep 6 guys given future considerations. Santana Moss, Josh Morgan and Dezmon Briscoe are all potential free agents after next year, so keeping only 5 guys and assuming all three of them make the roster, then 60% of your receiving corps would be free agents.
-The Redskins were able to make it through last season basically intact along the offensive line. Their five starters made 79 of their possible 80 starts (84 of 85 if we count the playoffs). Though their were a few other little injuries during games that required some additional back-up work, for the most part this unit was healthy. Unfortunately the chance of that happening again isn’t very likely. Typically there are no more than 3-5 lines that through a season are as healthy as the Redskins were last season, whether that means you miss 5-8 games, or 25-30 games is unknown. The point is the Redskins can’t afford to take their offensive line depth lightly. Having four guys who have some versatility and can provide depth is key. Despite the fact that it isn’t even a rotational position, the injury rate among linemen is too high to ignore.