The Redskins interest in former Titans 1st round pick Kenny Britt is well documented and it has become a hot topic for fans and the media. While there is a strong push to sign Britt, it would likely end up to be a major mistake for the Redskins and would be a move that has the potential for little positive impact.
Now it is easy to see why fans and media are so high on Britt, the Titans first round pick from the 2009 draft. Britt is 6’3″, 215 pounds and will be just 26 years old this season. As a rookie Britt caught 42 passes for 702 yards (16.7 ypc) and 3 TD’s, which is pretty impressive for a rookie. He followed that up the next season by an even more impressive 42 catches for 775 (18.5 ypc) and 9 TD’s in just 12 games. In 2011 Britt looked poised to breakout and his first two games were evidence of that as he caught 14 passes for a combined 271 yards (19.35 ypc) and 3 TD’s. He was on pace for a ridiculous 112 catch 2,168 yard and 24 TD year after two weeks. Now that obviously wouldn’t have happened, but Britt easily could have been a top 5 WR in the league that year. Unfortunately in week 3 after 3 catches and 18 more yards, Britt tore his ACL and MCL in the second quarter and was out for the rest of the season. Britt’s production in those first 3 seasons was very impressive, and he looked like a true big play number 1 wide receiver. His production was even more impressive considering the Titans didn’t have great quarterback play and they weren’t a heavy passing team so his numbers weren’t influenced by scheme or volume.
Unfortunately there isn’t much else to point to in favor of Kenny Britt, for all his talent he carries just about every red flag you could have, and the reason why he could be an “affordable” option is also why he doesn’t make sense for the Redskins. Here’s a look at his red flags and why the Redskins should stay away.
Since Britt has joined the NFL in 2009, he has been part of incidents that involved the police. While most of these have been pretty minor incidents and some of have ended up being dismissed for one reason or another, they point to a troubling track record. No not every player is a saint and of course in the grand scheme of things these incidents by themselves are pretty minor, but there has been a detailed and unfortunately a consistent pattern here. At the very least they show a severe lack of judgement, (one of his issues was when he tried to drive on to an Army base while drunk), and on the other end of the spectrum they possibly foreshadow a more serious issue. The NFL has already suspended Britt once, for a 1 game suspension at the beginning of the 2012 season, so any other issues will result in a more serious suspension. From a PR standpoint alone the Redskins should avoid this potential circus and move on.
Though Britt has the major ACL/MCL issue in his history, that is far from the only injury issue that he’s had in his career. In 2010 Britt missed 4 games (and had to leave early from another one) due to a pulled hamstring. He’s dealt with hamstring and quad issues that have slowed him down, multiple times in his career. In addition to the more serious knee issues and the hamstring issues, Britt has showed up on the injury report with a host of other issues, including ankle, groin, and neck injuries. While some of that happens, Britt has had a pretty short career and obviously has more serious issues.
While his general health can be questioned, the big issue are Britt’s knees. He tore his ACL and MCL week 3 of the 2011 season, yet he struggled quite a bit in his comeback year of 2012. Now typically that first year coming back from an ACL injury you are going to get somewhat of a pass as your speed and explosion is typically not there. That even holds true for a guy like Britt who was injured early in the year and had nearly a full year of recovery. While you can perhaps excuse the 2012 production and lack of explosion, it shouldn’t be a factor in 2013. Britt was simply awful this past year (more on that in a bit), and while it all can’t be attributed to the injury, Britt did not display the speed, explosion and separation that he did before the injury. If you look more into Britt’s injury it’s not surprising that Britt hasn’t had a strong comeback from the injury despite his young age. While Britt suffered the injury in September, he needed a 2nd surgery on that knee later in the year to clean up some things. While that can still be pretty normal, it shows that it wasn’t as clean of a procedure as some other cases. Britt also needed a minor surgery on his other knee to apparently repair his meniscus. Since then he’s dealt with swelling in his knee both in 2012 and 2013. You might expect it that following year in 2012, but the fact that he’s still missing practice and slowed down by swelling two years later is not a good sign. Perhaps year 3 will be better, but there are some serious injury concerns here.
While these could all be considered separate issues they also are related somewhat and are lumped together here. For as long as Britt has been in the league there have been work ethic and attitude questions. He’s missed or shown up late to practices and meetings and wasn’t considered a hard worker in the offseason program or when he was at practice. This led him to get in the dog house of the offensive coordinator/head coach at times which led to less snaps than a player of his talent should have. In 2012 Britt was complemented for showing better work ethic (though still missed some practice time), but in 2013 he was right back to his old ways with a lack of effort. Even more troubling that lack of effort really started to show up on the field, and affected his on the field production.
His first 3 years the Titans dealt with his work ethic/attitude and off the field concerns early in his career because his production was still impressive. These last two years though that simply hasn’t been the case. In 2012 Britt’s numbers were down with 45 catches for 589 yards and 4 TD’s in 14 games. His big play ability just wasn’t there and he managed just 13.1 yards per catch, well below where he was prior to the injury. Britt wasn’t getting the separation he had previously and when he did make the catch didn’t have the big play ability to make teams pay. Britt also committed 4 penalties and had 7 drops that year, both highs for him. In 2013 though things got even worse. Britt’s work ethic was non-existent and he just didn’t care. He managed just 11 catches for 96 yards and a woeful 8.7 yards per catch. Even worse than those numbers were the mistakes he made. Britt committed 6 penalties, which should never happen for a receiver, especially one who plays only 300 snaps. In addition he had 7 drops, in far less opportunities than the year before.
In addition to those major Red Flags there are a couple more reasons why Kenny Britt doesn’t make sense to the Redskins:
Most fans seem to believe that Kenny Britt will sign for a 1 year prove it deal at around the league minimum given his injury history and off the field issues. While it will very likely be a 1 year “prove it” type of deal, chances are it won’t be for the league minimum, especially if he were to sign with the Redskins. Now Britt’s deal isn’t going to break the bank, but it will probably be at a minimum seven figures with some money guaranteed. Britt will also likely be looking for some incentives in the deal that could boost the value into the $3-4 million range. Will he get that or not is a fair question, but plenty of guys get deals like that with similar baggage to Britt (i.e. Fred Davis a year ago who got $2.5 million plus incentives). Regardless of where his price ends up being, the Redskins will have to be the highest bidder if they want his services.
Whether it is league minimum (it’s not going to be) or $2 million plus incentives, the Redskins will need to have the best offer as multiple other teams are interested in Britt. All those teams offer better situations for Britt and if the money is equal, he’s going to choose them. In New England, in addition to having the chance to win a SB, Britt would get to rehab his value with Tom Brady throwing him the ball and be part of an offense with other major weapons so he could get some more favorable situations. The Rams are another suitor and that would allow him to play under Jeff Fisher again, the coach who drafted him and that he had those first two big seasons under. Carolina is reportedly interested and with their WR depth chart he’d easily be their number 1, and they of course were the NFC South winners last year. Finally the Seahawks are also in the mix, in addition to being the SB winners, they have a need for a receiver with Golden Tate and Sidney Rice off the team. The Redskins simply can’t match those situations so the only way they get Britt is if they pay him the most money.
Even if everything goes right with Kenny Britt and he was to sign cheaply and not have any of his potential red flags cause an issue, what do the Redskins really gain? Sure Britt could end up with a really nice 50 catch 850 yard 6 TD season, but where does that leave the Redskins? While anything can happen, the Redskins are a 3-13 team with a myriad of issues and holes on this team. They don’t figure to be a serious contender this year for either a division or a wild card spot, regardless of what Britt would bring to the table. Kenny Britt at 100% is not the missing piece for this team, and won’t be a deciding factor as to whether or not this team can make a surprise run. Even if he posts those numbers (or even higher if you want to presume that), it’s going to have very little impact on the Redskins in 2014, and then the question becomes what happens after that. If Britt has a big year his price tag will go up considerably and the Redskins would either have to use the franchise tag on him or fork over a big deal. Neither one of those options makes sense for the Redskins long term (if people were up in arms about applying the franchise tag to Orakpo, imagine their reaction to Britt).
Chances are that won’t be a concern because the chance that every thing goes right with Britt is probably about the same as winning the lotto. While Britt can be a high reward type of player, he’s an extremely high risk guy, and just not worth the Redskins trouble. If Washington wants to support Robert Griffin III, adding Britt is not the way to do that. He’s a guy who could be an issue in the locker room and in the huddle and that is not what they need to bring in to help Griffin reach his potential. This is one player they just need to avoid and move on from.