The Redskins’ leading receiver from last season has officially been released. Jabar Gaffney, who had 947 yards receiving and six touchdowns, saw the door after the team was unable to trade him away. However, this barely clears up the foggy picture that the Skins have at wideout.
The Skins have eight receivers on their roster as of this writing. Pierre Garcon, Leonard Hankerson, Santana Moss, Josh Morgan, Anthony Armstrong, Terrence Austin, Aldrick Robinson and Brandon Banks are who remain.
So the question is; who will start for the burgundy and gold?
To put it simply, Garcon got the big bucks—you can lock him into a starting position. Nobody gets paid $42 million to wear sweatpants on the sidelines.
Before the offseason was underway, Kyle Shanahan came out and stated that he wanted a playmaker on the hash marks (via The Washington Post).
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.
Moss has obviously lost some of his quickness and speed in past years. It is still unclear whether he’ll make the roster as the Redskins have Hankerson, who flashed brilliance last season. Moss may have a chance to lock down the slot receiver position, but he may have to beat out Armstrong if he can stay healthy.
This may be the position of most competition this summer. You have a half-dozen players jockeying for one spot left on the starting offense. And the one veteran among them doesn’t have a clear advantage over any of them except for the fact that he’s a veteran.
If I was a betting man (and I am) I’d put my money on Hankerson to be given a shot in this situation.
Banks is simply too small to be a constant threat. Armstrong may be better suited for the slot. Moss’s prime is behind him. Austin has yet to find his role on the team and Robinson needs to worry about getting off the practice squad first.
Hankerson does have a small sample size when it comes to his pro experience. It’ll be interesting to see what he can do once teams get some relevant game footage on him and can plan for him.
And even his sample doesn’t impress me much. His one breakout game was against the Dolphins when he caught eight passes for 106 yards. But it was a game where the Redskins averaged just 2.5 yards per carry and were forced to throw the ball more often than usual since they were down the entire game.
Give credit where it’s due; Hankerson could’ve simply not shown up when the team needed him. Six of those catches were in the second half, and that speaks for itself. But just as I was critical of Miles Austin’s sudden breakout, I’m critical of Hankerson until he proves otherwise.
To put it simply—there’s no clear No. 2 receiver on this team. No matter who Shanny picks, he’ll most likely be giving someone an opportunity to win the job during the season.
Rob Brown is a Correspondent for Bleacher Report as well as the primary writer for www.CowboysVsRedskins.com.