4 Washington Redskins Players Entering a Make-or-Break Year

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistJuly 3, 2013

May 23, 2013; Ashburn, VA, USA; Washington Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo leaves the field after organized team activities at Redskins Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Redskins haven't won back-to-back NFC East titles since 1984. In order to end that 29-year title defense drought, they'll need some wild-card players to emerge in make-or-break seasons.

Here are four Redskins who will either break out or disappear in 2013.


1. Josh Morgan, WR

Morgan is entering the second year of his two-year, $11.5 million deal signed last offseason, but the 28-year-old will have to become a more consistent receiving threat in order to earn another deal of that ilk from the 'Skins. 

He's the fourth-highest-paid player on the team, but fellow receivers Pierre Garcon, Santana Moss and Leonard Hankerson all outperformed him in 2012.

According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), he dropped eight passes on only 76 targets and caught precisely zero passes of 20 or more yards. As a result, 93 offensive players in the league averaged more yards per reception than Morgan did, including 17 tight ends and a running back. 

In order to maintain a No. 2 receiver role and roster spot, Morgan simply has to make more plays in 2013. 


2. Fred Davis, TE

Davis has the potential to become a go-to option for Robert Griffin III for many, many years to come, but the 27-year-old has missed 13 games over the last two seasons due to suspension and injury.

Can he stay out of trouble off the field and remain healthy while on it? The 'Skins aren't convinced, which is why Davis is only back on a one-year, $2.5 million deal.

He'll have to prove himself in 2013, and if he can't deliver, Washington spent a third-round pick on Florida tight end Jordan Reed this past April. He and Logan Paulsen can be insurance policies in case Davis gets into more trouble or just doesn't come through on Sundays. 

That would be a shame, because he was RG3's favorite weapon before he tore his Achilles tendon in Week 7 last season.

If Davis can get back on that track, the Redskins offense will be even better than it was in 2012. If he can't, this will likely be his swan song in D.C.


3. Brandon Meriweather, S

The former first-round pick has started just five games since the start of 2011. He was merely a backup for most of his time in Chicago after underperforming in New England and spent the majority of his first season with the Redskins on the sideline due to injury. 

The most recent affliction is a torn right ACL, which he suffered in Week 11. Now, the 29-year-old enters a do-or-die contract year with the 'Skins.

Not only will he have to find a way to stay healthy after taking only 44 snaps in 2012, he'll have to play well enough to maintain a starting job in a weak secondary despite the fact he was graded by PFF as the seventh-worst safety in the NFL the last time he was a regular starter in 2010.


4. Brian Orakpo, OLB

It's not as though Orakpo will find himself unemployed if he has a down year or fails to stay healthy, but there's a reason he and the team have not discussed a long-term contract despite the fact that Orakpo is entering the final year of his rookie deal.

There's no questioning Orakpo's talent, but we're talking about a four-year veteran who has never recorded more than 11 sacks in a season and has suffered two separate pectoral injuries in the last 18 months.

If Orakpo can't stay healthy this season, he could be done in Washington.

Either that or he'll be forced to sign a cheap deal to stick around, potentially as a complementary weapon to the emerging Ryan Kerrigan. 

But if he can finally put it all together, he'll be 27 entering next offseason and will be in for a big payday. With salary-cap sanctions gone, the 'Skins should be able to afford that.