Yesterday the Redskins made a flurry of personnel moves as mini-camp is wrapping up. The Redskins signed Wide receivers Donte Stallworth and Devery Henderson along with kicker/punter John Potter. To make room for the new moves the Redskins waived/injured TE Deangelo Peterson and DE Doug Worthington. The Redskins will need to make one more corresponding move today to make room for the third signing. Here are my thoughts on each of these moves.
-This is a bit more rough then I think most people realize. Worthington will likely be put on IR after he clears waivers, which should be a lock given that he tore his bicep in practice on Tuesday and will require surgery. Though Worthington was borderline to make the team, he was basically the 5th defensive end on the depth chart behind, Stephen Bowen, Jarvis Jenkins, Adam Carriker and Kedric Golston. Though the team will likely only keep four defensive ends, a spot could come open with Adam Carriker expected to miss all of the preseason and possibly the start of the regular season. Worthington has been in this defense for a couple of years now and has some brief playing time. If Carriker wasn’t ready to go (or due to his injury concerns the team kept 5 DE’s), Worthington would have been a solid depth option for the Redskins defense. With Worthington gone and Carriker a major question mark, the Redskins defensive line is extremely thin, and they haven’t even gotten to training camp yet. Each of the last two years the Redskins have lost one defensive lineman in training camp and another early in the season. The Redskins were able to overcome some of those injuries in part due to Carriker (in 2011) and Worthington. If those guys are off the table and two more serious injuries occur, the Redskins line could be in big trouble. Due to this concern it is a bit shocking the Redskins chose to add a pair of receivers, instead of saving one of those spots for a new defensive end.
-Peterson was on the Redskins practice squad last season, and there was some hope that he could challenge for a roster spot this year. Unfortunately an injury also knocked him out and if he goes unclaimed on waivers the Redskins could possibly look to IR him as well. Though he was facing tough competition in camp with Fred Davis, Jordan Reed, Logan Paulsen and Niles Paul all well ahead of him, he was a solid insurance policy. Both Davis and Reed are dealing with injury issues so how much work they can do in camp/preseason is in question, and there is always the chance of a setback that knocks them out longer. Now the tight end position is a bit thin, and unless the Redskins add someone could make things tougher in practice, until Davis and Reed return.
-Potter is a kick-off specialist, who had 13 touchbacks in just 6 games, by comparison Kai Forbath had 15 in 11 games (not to mention Forbath had more chances with the Redskins scoring more). Short kickoffs were a killer for the Redskins defense last season as it led to a number of favorable field position scenarios. Given how weak the Redskins defense is, they can’t afford anything else hindering them like starting field position. Sav Rocca is returning from a leg injury, but this signing probably has more to do with the kickoffs than a concern for Rocca. Though it makes sense to have an extra leg in camp, it is going to be interesting to see if the Redskins decide to make an extra spot for a kickoff specialist during the season.
-These were the most interesting moves, though it was known for a couple of days that Stallworth was going to sign. Unless there has been a setback to Pierre Garcon, receiver is arguably the Redskins deepest position. In addition to Garcon, Santana Moss, Josh Morgan and Leonard Hankerson have all shown the ability to be quality receivers (if not better). Third year pro Aldrick Robinson has also shown some nice development so far, and Dezmon Briscoe offers size to round out the top six receivers. In addition with the Redskins adding a joker tight end like Jordan Reed, the value of the receivers takes a bit of a hit since there will be fewer balls to go around. Also the Redskins may need to keep four tight ends this year, and that additional roster spot would make the most sense coming from the receivers. To make matters more interesting, neither Stallworth or Henderson has been a primary return man (either kickoffs or punts) in the NFL, and they don’t really play a lot of special teams otherwise. It’s tough to justify an extra receiver (or two) if they don’t add much value on special teams or figure to be used much. You aren’t going to cut a special teams ace like Niles Paul, just to keep a 6th or 7th receiver like Stallworth/Henderson. While both receivers ensure better depth in camp, they are taking away some reps from younger guys like Hankerson, Robinson, Briscoe who have a shot to make the team, or some of the UDFA’s who could be practice squad candidates. Maybe it would make sense if multiple receivers were returning from injuries (or Garcon was definitively going to miss significant time), but on paper these moves (especially adding two receivers) is a head scratcher.