Can the Redskins Keep Four Tight Ends?
May 1, 2013 in Redskins Personnel
Two weeks ago I looked at the possible Roster Construction of the Redskins Offense, and concluded that three tight ends were likely to make the team. While I wasn't looking at specific players to make the team, I felt pretty confident that with Fred Davis, Logan Paulsen, and Niles Paul that the Redskins had their three tight ends. Then of course they spent their third round pick on TE Jordan Reed making him a lock. How can the Redskins keep four tight ends and what other position will lose a roster spot to accommodate them?
Well the first question is are any of the incumbents in danger of losing their job? To me the answer is no. Fred Davis is coming off a major injury and his skill set is most closely represented by Reed, but the Redskins gave him a $1.5 million signing bonus, making him a tough guy to cut. Logan Paulsen just signed a three year contract and is the best blocker on this team. He's also shown himself to be a solid red zone weapon with his size. Niles Paul is probably the guy on most people's chopping blocks, but that would be a big mistake. Last year was his first as a tight end, and he still proved himself to be a solid blocker. For all the controversy about if Paul can be a tight end, remember that five of his eight receptions went for 20 yards or more. That is more 20 yard receptions than Fred Davis had (4 of 24) or Logan Paulsen (3 of 25). Paul is also the team's best special teamer (by far with Alexander gone), which should keep him safe on the roster.
Actually the idea of keeping four tight ends is not a novel concept for the Redskins and Mike Shanahan. In 2011 they actually broke camp with four tight ends as Mike Sellers was listed as the 4th tight end/back-up fullback. I think you will see that approach again this year as Logan Paulsen and Niles Paul showed they can play some from the backfield last year in kind of an H-Back type of role. Even Reed could be used out of the backfield some (though his lack of blocking would make this more situational for him). A guy like Niles Paul has a receiver back ground so he could fill in there if the position is hit by injuries. Reed and Davis's ability to split out wide also could allow the Redskins to utilize fewer receivers in their formations.
To me it is pretty much a no-brainer what position loses a spot to keep this fourth tight end. In my roster construction I had the Redskins keeping 3 QB's, 4 RB's, 1 FB, 6 WR's and 9 OL. I don't think you will see another spot come from the defensive side of the ball, which means one of those positions needs to be reduced. With Robert Griffin III's injury status, I don't see how the Redskins can keep just two quarterbacks. Given how much the Redskins run, and how often they've been shorthanded at running back, it wouldn't make sense to cut from their either. Some may thinking cutting a lineman makes sense, but in 2011 they tired to only keep 8 offensive linemen and it was a disaster. Sure the Redskins were basically healthy along the line last year, but that could easily change this year. The position that should be reduced simply has to be receiver. Keeping six receivers just doesn't make sense. Not with how established the Redskins top receivers are, and how little the Redskins throw the football. Also, few of the Redskins receivers play special teams which further limits their value. Given how much overlap the tight ends can have with the receivers, it is a no-brainer for Washington.
What do you think? Will the Redskins keep 4 TE's? and If so what position gets cut?