7 Early Winners and Losers of the Washington Redskins' Offseason
Consider this a mid-offseason checkup.
Although we're still more than a month away from July 25 and the start of NFL training camp, we're glued to our team's activity by way of every possible media outlet. We make mountains out of mole hills, something out of nothing, and we do our best to speculate like we're working Wall Street. It's the genetics of a rabid football fan.
And it's certainly no different for Redskins fans.
So far this offseason, we've been entertained. Perhaps not by way of signings like Jeff George or Albert Haynesworth, but with mostly positive things. Things like Robert Griffin III performing rollouts, and Brian Orakpo coming off the edge appearing fully healthy.
Again, us gridiron addicts still have a way to go before we experience real football. But until then, here are some winners and losers from the Washington Redskins thus far.
Winner: Robert Griffin III
Let's begin with the most obvious, shall we?
After we all watched him crumble to the dirt of FedEx Field at the end of a home playoff loss last season, Robert Griffin III appears to be defying all odds.
It followed with an Adidas commercial that some perceived to be more boastful than credible.
Soon after that, confident words from the second-year quarterback himself, as well as some jumping jacks in jeans at a draft party, started to instill legitimate hope.
And then came OTAs, when we all listened to Griffin talk about his two-mile run in late March and witnessed him planting firmly and rifling strong passes, via Zac Boyer of The Free Lance-Star.
Pointing an obvious finger at myself, it appears the doubters were wrong. Robert Griffin III really is all in for Week 1.
Winner: Donte Stallworth
Not only did Donte Stallworth escape what could've been a tragic hot-air balloon accident with just a few burns, but he's also back to playing football.
It's safe to say he's winning.
Stallworth showed well during his brief stint with the Redskins back in 2011, when he hauled in 22 catches for 309 yards and two scores. He was a veteran presence, he was a reliable target, and coaches enjoyed having him out there.
Rather than re-signing in Washington, Stallworth took a gig with the New England Patriots, ultimately missing all but one game of the 2012 season due to an ankle injury.
According to Mike Jones of The Washington Post, head coach Mike Shanahan was sad to see Stallworth go.
I didn’t want to lose Donte a year ago. I did call him up and told him I thought he made a mistake, giving him a hard time when he signed...I thought he was better being with us, just because I liked what he did and what he brought to the table. When it didn’t work out for him, this year I was hoping we could get him back.
In addition to survival and being able to play football again, Stallworth is a winner simply because the Redskins receiving corps isn't a completely refined unit.
After Pierre Garcon and Joshua Morgan, questions surround Leonard Hankerson and his development, Santana Moss isn't getting any younger, and the verdict is still out on guys like Aldrick Robinson and Dezmon Briscoe.
At the very least, Stallworth provides competition in camp. But don't be surprised if he makes the final 53.
Loser: Adam Carriker
Just to be clear, I'm not literally calling Adam Carriker a loser. Not only is he a beast on the football field, but he's also a beast of a man that possesses the strength necessary to rip my melon clean off my shoulders if I were so foolish as to accuse him of being a loser in real life.
When I mention Carriker as a loser this offseason, it has to do solely with the setback he experienced while recovering from the quad tear he suffered at the beginning of last season.
In 2011, Carriker saw his best season as a pro, registering 33 tackles and a career-high 5.5 sacks in 15 starts. The former first-round pick had found his groove, while the Redskins had landed a stud end for their 3-4 scheme.
But this particular setback doesn't sound good. And said groove may have hit a serious pothole.
According to Tarik El-Bashir of CSN Washington, Mike Shanahan refused to go into detail about Carriker's aggravation, but noted its occurrence near the end of last season.
"I could tell you, but I don’t want get into it," Shanahan told reporters. "I’m still hoping he will be ready."
Not the most promising of positions from the head coach, but time will tell. For now, as fans, we should hope for the best and expect the worst.
Winner: Richard Crawford
This one comes as sort of a two-parter.
The first part is that Richard Crawford made strides during the latter part of last season. He returned punts, he forced turnovers, and he was first on the scene for a couple of loose balls. His development as a rookie—even from Week 3 forward—was a lot of fun to watch.
In addition to that, reports around town from guys like JP Finlay of CSN Washington are encouraging.
"It was just one play, and it occurred on a May afternoon during Offseason Team Activities," Finlay noted, speaking about a play in which Crawford robbed veteran receiver Santana Moss of a seemingly routine snag.
"But throughout the day Crawford was making plays. A tipped pass here, an interception on a deep ball, and an impressive punt return too," Finlay said. "The buzz around Crawford was that he was in the middle of a great run of OTAs."
We're all hoping that the 22-year-old Crawford is picking up where he left off last season. In a secondary with DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson as the presumed starters, Crawford has an opportunity to see plenty of time alongside veteran corner E.J. Biggers in certain packages, as well as a better developed punt returner in 2013.
Stay tuned for the second part.
Winner: Kirk Cousins
If you want to say Robert Griffin III is the most important player on the Redskins roster, not many would argue with you. At least they shouldn't.
But if you bring up the question of who's No. 2, I think you'd be surprised with who fans tend to lean toward.
One guy who should receive a good amount of the vote is backup quarterback Kirk Cousins. As the insurance policy to RG3 and his healing knee, the Redskins would rely on Cousins as their crutch in the unfortunate case that Griffin isn't available for the start of the season.
Aside from a setback in his recovery (knock on wood), perhaps Griffin simply isn't physically prepared to play Week 1, or Week 2 or 3. Guess who the team leans on in that scenario?
We saw Cousins toss four touchdowns in three games last season, and fans tend to have faith in the second-year signal-caller. But it's still reassuring to hear about Cousins running the read-option, receiving first-team reps and building confidence among his teammates.
Not to mention, the better Cousins looks, the prettier the Redskins potentially sit in an upcoming summer.
Whether we're talking about home, car, boat or football, insurance is crucial. And for the Redskins, Kirk Cousins is their premium policy.
Loser: Chase Minnifield
This slide, unfortunately, serves as the second part of why I consider Richard Crawford a winner this offseason.
Coming out of Virginia last summer, Chase Minnifield was one of my highest-rated corners. He had instincts, he had league pedigree, and he understood the game.
Microfracture knee surgery prior to draft day, however, turned Minnifield from a projected third-rounder to an undrafted free agent, and the Redskins eventually landed the University of Virginia product.
Prior to his rookie season, Minnifield tore his ACL. That was all she wrote.
The Redskins were forced to cut Minnifield, but thankfully watched him return to the team's injured reserve list after no other team claimed him off waivers.
Although Minnifield continues to recover and is expected to fight for a spot on the roster this year, I believe medical issues ultimately land him on the practice squad.
Assuming the Redskins go with five corners, DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson are as close to inked starters as you can get at this point. Meanwhile, recently signed free agent E.J. Biggers is expected to make the team, top-pick David Amerson is a lock and Richard Crawford came on too strong late last season not to have him back in 2013.
It's an unfortunate situation for a talented football player like Minnifield, but hopefully we get to see him suit up on Sundays in 2014.
Loser: Rob Jackson
After the team re-signed him to a one-year deal following a stellar 2013 campaign, linebacker Rob Jackson was suspended the first four games of next season after testing positive for a banned substance.
But it's not nearly as bad as it sounds.
According to multiple sources by way of Rich Campbell of The Washington Times, the Redskins re-signed Jackson with knowledge of the upcoming suspension. And according to one source, the substance for which Jackson tested positive was a component of an unprescribed pain medication.
Again, not as terrible as it could've been. Jackson didn't receive his new deal and then head to Dupont for late-night binges. He simply took a painkiller, and it showed up fishy on the league's testing sheet.
Either way, Jackson's production will obviously suffer with four less games on his schedule, and the Redskins will certainly miss him. Despite Brian Orakpo's expected return, you can never have enough of the six turnovers generated by Jackson last season.