Redskins to Sign Andre Roberts: Grading Move and What It Means for Washington

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistMarch 11, 2014

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 25:  wide receiver Andre Roberts #12 of the Arizona Cardinals runs out onto the field before the NFL game against the St. Louis Rams at the University of Phoenix Stadium on November 25, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. The Rams defeated the Cardinals 31-17.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

If there's a reason to believe Andre Roberts, who according to Mike Jones of the Washington Post has agreed to terms with the Washington Redskins, could exceed expectations and become a reliable No. 2 wide receiver for years to come in D.C., consider what he did in 2012. 

In his third pro season, the 2010 third-round pick had 64 receptions, 759 yards and five touchdowns despite having to catch passes from John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Ryan Lindley and Brian Hoyer. That cringeworthy quarterback quartet had a combined passer rating of 63.1, which was the lowest among the league's 32 groups of signal-callers that season. 

Roberts' broad numbers came back to Earth a little bit in 2013, but only because 2012 first-round pick Michael Floyd replaced him in the starting lineup, an expected and natural transition. So in his final year with the Cardinals, Roberts saw his snap total decrease by 28 percent. 

But look a little deeper and there's promise there, too. 

In 2012, he had 10 drops and the league's 10th-highest drop rate, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required). But in 2013, he dropped only two of the 45 catchable passes thrown his way, which was the 12th-lowest rate in the league. 

Roberts might never be a star, but he's made plenty of progress the last two years and he is who he is. Fast, with good hands and almost no blocking ability. He can play anywhere (about half of his snaps the last two years came in the slot) and he's only 26. 

And as you can see in this highlights compilation, which may or may have been posted online by Roberts himself, he has a knack for making catches in tight spaces and has a history as a return man, too (although he hasn't performed in that role since 2010):

At this stage, he's a better, younger version of Josh Morgan or Santana Moss. And when you consider that Aldrick Robinson and Leonard Hankerson have failed to take the reins opposite Pierre Garcon, it's probably fair to say Roberts is already the second-best receiver on this roster. 

That makes it easier to swallow the fact that, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, the Redskins are giving him $16 million over four years, with half of that guaranteed. Regardless of how you break that down, he becomes one of the 35 highest-paid receivers in football, per Spotrac

That might be a touch high considering what he's done, but that's the nature of free agency. 

This is a smart veteran signing, which I expect Washington to complement in the early rounds of the draft. They've upgraded the depth and experience in their receiving corps at a relatively reasonable cost, giving them the ability to shift their focus to all of those other needs as free agency officially gets underway Tuesday afternoon.