5 Washington Redskins Backups Who Could Start for Other NFL Teams
Photo by Brian Murphy
This column is dedicated to five Washington Redskins backups who could start for other franchises. But it's hard to pick and choose when they're not necessarily listed as such.
With training camps kicking off across the league, teams like Washington refrain from posting depth charts. So, every spot appears to be up for grabs.
"Every man for himself" would make for an interesting scenario, but it's truly not the case in the NFL.
Ninety players will show up for the start of Redskins' training camp, but by early September, only 53 will remain.
So, let's make an educated guess at some players who should make the Redskins' roster, but would be better off on somebody else's.
Tight End Chris Cooley
ESPN gave Chris Cooley the exposure he craved in 2009. (ESPN E:60)
Let's start with the most obvious player who could start somewhere else. Chris Cooley is one of the most beloved veterans in Washington outside of London Fletcher and has been a loyal soldier for years.
But he has had his share of positives and negatives.
Dating a cheerleader is good. Getting your girlfriend kicked off the Redskins' squad is bad.
Creating a blog is fun, but posting private parts on it is dumb.
Four hundred-plus catches and 33 scores is impressive. Missing 19 games over three seasons is not.
Other teams may be weary of tight end declines at 30, but Cooley's past production speaks for itself.
In Washington, Chris is clearly the backup to Fred Davis and he may have competition from young, up-and-comer Niles Paul for the No. 2 spot. Add a $6.3 million cap hit to the equation and it might be best for Cooley to hit the road before the Skins show him the door.
Running Back Evan Royster
When Roy Helu went down with a pair of injuries last year, Evan Royster stepped up. (clu1045)
When it comes to running backs in the NFL, "carrying the load" is becoming a thing of the past. The league's recent emphasis on the passing game is partly to blame, but the pounding backs take over the course of seasons wears their bodies down (i.e Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles).
In 2011, four different runners tried to be "the guy" in Washington. But all four ended up battled and bruised, including Ryan Torain, who was released from the team.
Choosing a starter from coach Mike Shanahan's backfield is anybody's guess, but the odds favor Roy Helu because of his pass catching and blocking skills.
Tim Hightower played well to start the season last year, but the Redskins will probably tread carefully with him. Hightower is returning from a torn ACL and is hopeful that he can be back at full speed when the season kicks off. But that remains a big if.
That leaves Evan Royster, as the most likely to achieve somewhere else, if he only had the chance.
Of course, that won't happen this year because Shanahan is never shy about pulling a starter if he needs a spark.
Royster provided one for him last year, with back-to-back 100-yard games in Weeks 16 and 17. He also opened eyes with a 5.9 yards-per-carry average.
Evan also has a history of success when he alone carries the rock. He finished his college career as Penn State's all-time leading rusher in (not so) Happy Valley. With 3,414 total yards, he beat out the likes of Curt Warner, Tony Hunt, Blair Thomas and Larry Johnson. He also averaged a hefty 5.7 yards per carry over four years and scored 32 touchdowns.
Cornerback Kevin Barnes
DeAngelo Hall is one star Kevin Barnes relies upon to pump him up. (HailMagazine)
When the 2011 preseason began, cornerback Kevin Barnes was penciled in as Washington's No. 2 starter opposite DeAngelo Hall.
The former Maryland Terrapin was so excited that he made a sly comment on radio about the departure of locker-room cancer Albert Haynesworth.
Unfortunately for Barnes, he got erased from the starter's sheet before he could sharpen up.
Washington's coaching staff certainly liked what they saw in the 2009 third-round choice, but felt compelled to replace San Francisco-bound Carlos Rogers with an experienced veteran.
In typical Redskins fashion, they got one in late July, in the form of Josh Wilson. Wilson, who is also a Maryland alumnus, had the resume to boot, with three seasons as a starter under his belt. Originally drafted by Seattle in 2007, Josh started two out of his three years with the Seahawks and in his lone season in Baltimore.
So, Wilson got handed the job, and Barnes got put on hold.
Some youngsters would call that a raw deal, but Barnes refused to waver from his quest to improve.
“I’m still a young guy. I’m only 24,” Barnes told writer Stephen Wynos in an interview with the Washington Times. “I have a lot left in me. I don’t think I’ve reached halfway as far as my potential.”
That potential could eventually lead to a starter's role, but the No. 2 spot is still Wilson's to lose. Could Barnes start for another team? Possibly, if Washington were to release him.
But look for the Redskins to keep Kevin around for his versatility. In return, Barnes will do his best to provide competition for veteran newcomer Cedric Griffin at the nickleback position.
Linebacker Jonathan Goff
Jonathan Goff wreaked havoc on former Skins QB Jason Campbell in 2010. (Getty)
Jonathan Goff knows what a difference a year can make. As a seldom used second-year defender In 2009, he had just 15 tackles. But by 2010, Goff raised the bar to 54, as the starting middle linebacker of the New York Giants.
But then all hell broke loose. Goff's 2011 was a lost cause after he tore up an ACL. A lengthy rehab stint ensued and Goff wondered about his future.
By 2012, the Giants moved on, and so did Goff, as a free agent to the Skins. But Jon probably would have been better off in South Beach, where he was also wooed.
If Goff returns to full strength, he's starter material. That just won't be the case in Washington, with London Fletcher and Perry Riley ahead of him.
Update: Unfortunately for Goff, his return to the playing field was short-lived. On July 28, Goff re-injured the same knee that he did a year ago. Doctors confirmed another tear to his ACL. Two days later, the Redskins released Goff, to make room for offensive lineman Jordan Black.
Quarterback Rex Grossman
Rex Grossman can be a fountain of knowledge for Washington's young QBs.
Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE
I know you're laughing, so cut it out. Sexy Rexy had his chance last year to prove he could lead the Redskins back to glory, and he couldn't even keep John Beck from stealing his job.
But as Realredskins.com blogger Rich Tandler points out, Grossman did lead the Chicago Bears to a 13-3 record and a Super Bowl. He also showed some moxie when he took over the starter's role two years ago for a beleaguered Donovan McNabb.
And perhaps most importantly, he has been nothing short of classy in handing the car keys over to rookie sensation Robert Griffin III (as if he had a choice).
Rex will be the primary backup to RGIII this year. In the meantime, he'll follow Mike Shanahan's orders to help nurture the young pups.
Grossman may even be the guy Washington depends upon to mentor fourth-round draft choice Kirk Cousins, so the team can peddle him off for draft choices in the future.
No matter how great RGIII looks or how promising Cousins can be, there are things that they simply don't know yet about the NFL. That's why Grossman's still a Redskin, when he could actually be starting for a poor team.