Before the 2011 season, wideout Santana Moss signed a three-year, $15 million contract with the Washington Redskins. That was before a disappointing season that saw him only bring in 46 catches for 587 yards.
As the Redskins head into a rebuilding mode, they must ask themselves if they have a spot for the 32-year-old receiver on the 2012 roster.
Moss did start the season strong, averaging just over five catches in the first four games. However, after the Week 5 bye, his production took a sudden nosedive. In his final eight games (he missed four due to injury) Moss only averaged three receptions per game. The last time his average was that low he was a New York Jet.
In a league that rewards teams for passing the ball, this was the biggest weakness for the Skins. They were streaky at best as far as defending their quarterbacks, and when the quarterback was upright, he was inconsistent as well.
Coach Mike Shanahan told the Washington Post that having a playmaker at receiver would help all of those problems.
“Having a guy like Andre [Johnson] in Houston, even when he wasn’t getting the ball, it was for a good reason. It was because they were paying a lot of attention to him, and that takes pressure off of the quarterback, the O-line and the other receivers.
"You don’t have to do everything so hard, and have everything go perfect. Sometimes you need to have a player that can just take over and make a big play when stuff isn’t right.”
Doesn’t sound like Santana Moss is the player he’s talking about.
CSN Washington blogger Rich Tandler agreed that his future was unclear at best when I asked him about Moss’ future with the team.
“Likely but not certain to be on '12 roster. After that unclear. RT
@RobBrown3: Where do you think Santana fits into the Skins' future plans?”
Moss obviously isn’t the long-term solution for the Redskins. He has lost his explosiveness that once brought fans to the edge of their seats. If the Skins are going to start fresh with a new quarterback (whether that be Matt Flynn, Robert Griffin III or anyone else), they can’t afford to handicap them with an aging receiver.
Moss still has some value, just not as a primary receiver. If he can somehow recapture any of his explosiveness, he can still be a solid slot receiver. This year, he’s scheduled to make $2.65 million, which isn’t bad for a dependable third option.
The only problem is: where do you find the other two options?
Jabar Gaffney proved to be a good addition to the team as well as Donte’ Stallworth. Both were able to pick up the slack when the team needed it, being primary receivers at different times throughout the season.
Coach Mike Shanahan recently noted the need for an additional playmaker that can break tackles and add yards after the catch.
“We do need to make more plays,” Shanahan said after the South team’s practice for Saturday’s Senior Bowl.
“The one thing that hurt us the most was every touchdown pass we made was caught in the end zone. There wasn’t one that was caught outside the end zone and ran in until Week 16, when Helu caught that screen versus Philly. The other one was [Brandon] Banks’ throw to [Moss], who caught it and ran in.
"Our guys need to do a better job of getting up the field and making some plays after the catch so we get some points on the board by running it in instead of us having to go all the way down the field and trying to throw it in.”
The draft being as unpredictable as it is, you may see the Skins take a receiver with their sixth overall pick. They can also bring in a guy like Dwayne Bowe, who made plays last year in spite of having them thrown to him by the backup signal-caller.
No matter what the answer is, it isn’t Moss. It’s time to separate him from his primary receiver role and understand that the Skins need to move on to better the team.