Here are 5 players who made the team last year who could be on the roster bubble this year. For the purposes of this, I’m just considering guys who got some playing time and were on the active roster. Not all of these guys are going to get released, but all could be on thinner ice.
-When Jordan Bernstein went down with injury last year the Redskins picked up Pugh off waivers. Pugh saw more and more times given DeJon Gomes struggles and Brandon Meriweather‘s injuries. Pugh though was only ever used as a platoon player though, and didn’t distinguish himself. With a deeper safety roster this year, Pugh could have a tough time finding a spot on this team. His special teams ability is below Reed Doughty and Gomes, and his lack of run support limits him. If the Redskins go the platoon route again they are far more likely to consider either of their two rookies for his role.
-Gomes is the Redskins 5th round pick from 2011, and while he was the opening day starter for the Redskins last year his roster spot is very much on the bubble. The Redskins only kept four healthy safeties last season (five when Meriweather was recovering from injuries early in the season), and with Brandon Meriweather and 4th round rookie Phillip Thomas likely locked into spots, it leaves just two openings up for grabs. Sixth round rookie Bacarri Rambo is a favorite for another spot, and veteran Reed Doughty is likely well ahead of Gomes as well. While Doughty doesn’t have Gomes versatility, he’s a better special teamer and has been more consistent in his career. Perhaps the Redskins keep 5 safeties, given that Meriweather is coming back from an injury, but otherwise Gomes is probably on the way out.
-Crawford was a nice surprise last year as 7th round pick. Though his main contributions were on special teams, he was decent at times at CB. What puts him on this list though is the fact that the Redskins added CB’s E.J. Biggers and David Amerson this offseason. Now four of the five roster spots are locked up, and if the team decides to use someone else as a returner, Crawford will need to earn his spot based on his play. Jerome Murphy and Chase Minnifield will challenge Crawford for that spot. Though Crawford is probably the early favorite, he will definitely be fighting for a spot.
-Baker is a guy who is likely to make the team after a solid year last season as a back-up NT. Baker doesn’t have much versatility as he’s really just a run plugger and doesn’t really fit as well on 4 man fronts, but he did well in that one area. Where he could be on the roster bubble is with the return of 2011 7th round pick Chris Neild. Neild was okay in limited work as a rookie, and showed a little pass rush ability as well as run stopping ability. Though he probably isn’t the run defender Baker is, if it is close Neild is cheaper, under control for the next two years, and more versatile. It’s likely though given some of the Redskins struggles versus the run that Baker has a spot, but he’s got to keep playing like last year. The Redskins could also decide to keep both Neild and Baker to help ensure they have the depth needed. He probably won’t get cut, but he will have a fight for his job.
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-The chance of Rob Jackson actually getting cut is extremely small. He’s been in this system for a couple of years, and is coming off a good season for a back-up. What puts Jackson on this list (in addition to needing a 5th name) is the fact that he struggles at the primary responsibility for his position, and that is rushing the passer. While he was okay versus the run, and strong against the pass in coverage, he had to be pulled at times where he was to blitz because he just wasn’t making an impact. While that alone doesn’t put him on the bubble, combining it with the fact that he’s suspended for the first four games does at least raise the question. With Jackson missing the first four games it further limits his value and gives newcomers Brandon Jenkins and Darryl Tapp a chance to make the team over him. While a decision on Jackson won’t be made until that suspension is set to be lifted, if Jenkins and Tapp have shown themselves to be productive back-ups and special teamers, it could be tough to justify cutting one of them to bring Jackson back. The chance of this happening is small, but with the suspension it is at least a possibility.