The sign of a good professional sports team is the total balance of its roster. The team’s that win usually have competition and depth to go with talent. The Washington Redskins through aggressive free agent moves as well smart use of the NFL Draft have put themselves in position to feel good about their potential 53 man roster.
All NFL teams have to make their final cuts by 4 p.m. ET this coming Saturday. This could be the first time in almost a decade that the Redskins will have to part ways with several players that have proved all summer long that they can play and contribute on the pro level.
Washington will have to decide if they want to go with veteran experience over youth or unit depth over sheer talent.
Entering the summer, the Redskins expected All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams to be in pads and helping the offensive line protect a ‘budding’ quarterback competition. That didn’t happen as Williams is in the middle of a contract/medical staff dispute that possibly has severed the 7x Pro Bowlers relationship with the only team he has played for since being drafted fourth overall in the 2010 draft.
Will the Redskins keep more offensive linemen as insurance for inconsistent play along the left side of the line?
The difficulty that looms ahead for the Redskins on cutdown day is a good problem to have for coaches. It proves that the roster has improved and for coach Jay Gruden who is entering his sixth season as the lead man, the decisions ahead will undoubtedly impact his ball club.
“I think they all are difficult,” Gruden said about the decisions ahead. “These guys have been here working their tails off. So, when you’re talking about cutting players, it’s difficult. So, every position has a variety of different areas we have to look at. And like I said before, special teams plays a part of that and that can have an impact based on how many backs you keep and how many receivers you keep. Can those receivers be a flyer? How about those corners? I mean all of that stuff. So, definitely going to have to take a look at special teams first when it comes to this last preseason game.”
Flexibility at certain positions when evaluating the roster will be key as well.
“You have to look at the numbers,” Gruden said. “The numbers are always the biggest issue. Do you keep five or six receivers? Three or four backs? Three or four tight ends? Nine or 10 linemen? Eight linemen? Six defensive linemen or five? Five inside backers or four? Outside backers, four or five? Safeties, four or five? Corners, six or five? So, all those things will play a part in who we keep at what position.”
Gruden mentioned that no decisions have been made already as far as who has made the team and he wants things to play out first.
“You’ve got to let it all play out first,” Gruden said. “You’ve got to let it all play out first. Find out who is healthy and then number two, we come up and have group decision and talk about the guys we definitely want to keep and then talk about the fringe guys and what strengths they can give this football team and how we can make it all work.”
The Redskins will have tough decisions to make with players several young players who have flashed in training camp and preseason. Linebacker Cassanova McKinzy has looked the part of a pass rush specialist. Defensive lineman, Ryan Bee has played well but is on perhaps the teams strongest unit where roster spaces are limited.
At wide receiver, Brian Quick, Robert Davis, Cam Sims, Steven Sims, and Darvin Kidsy have all proved they can play. But is there room for two of them out of the list to go along with Paul Richardson, Josh Doctson, Trey Quinn, Terry McLaurin, and Kelvin Harmon?
The thinking is that McLaurin and Harmon are in as draft picks that have played well throughout camp and the preseason.
So as Gruden mentioned, do the Redskins keep seven WR’s or six? History has shown under Gruden that he prefers six, but this year could be different.
The Redskins will also have some tough decisions to make in the secondary.
Whichever way the Redskins go, despite missing their best overall talent in Williams, their roster might be the deepest and most talented it has been from top to bottom in some time.