Washington Redskins Veterans Who Have Been Put on Notice This Offseason
In the wake of moves he and head coach Jay Gruden have made this offseason, Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen has effectively put some of the team's veterans on notice.
Whether the reason is financially or performance-based, you can be assured that some new faces will be ushered into the starting lineup in the aftermath of the team's 3-13 record last season.
With that said, here are five veteran Redskins who should be wary of a pink slip in the coming months.
Despite re-upping with the 'Skins for the veteran's minimum on a one-year deal this offseason, Santana Moss is not a lock to make the team.
With the signing of Andre Roberts, Moss, the team's third-leading receiver from a season ago, was already going to have to battle it out with holdovers Aldrick Robinson, Leonard Hankerson and Nick Williams for a roster spot on next year's team.
Then the unexpected happen.
The fatal blow to Moss' candidacy to make the team, though, came during the 2014 NFL draft. In the fifth round, the Redskins selected wideout Ryan Grant. Another receiver ideally suited to play in the slot—along with Roberts, Williams and Moss—Grant will make it that much more difficult for Moss to make the team.
While Moss proved in 2013 that he can still contribute, it appears he'll be hauling in passes elsewhere in 2014 as a victim of the team's numbers crunch at receiver.
Talk about a makeover.
After surrendering 43 sacks in 2013, Washington cut ties with center Will Montgomery and signed or drafted five offensive linemen this offseason.
With four of the five players being interior linemen, guard Chris Chester's place in the starting lineup—or on the team, for that matter—shouldn't feel too secure.
Along with the new additions at guard in Mike McGlynn and rookie Spencer Long, Chester will have holdovers Adam Gettis, Maurice Hurt and Josh LeRibeus gunning for his job. Shawn Lauvao will man the starting gig at left guard.
Due to count $4.3 million against the cap this season and $4.8 million in 2015, according to Spotrac.com, Chester could lose his job because of financial considerations. Cutting Chester would net the Redskins $2.7 million in cap space in 2014 and $4 million in 2015.
Given the money issue and the presence behind him of young reserves ready to compete for a starting slot, it's hard to fathom Chester remaining a Redskin past the 2014 campaign.
Entering the final year of his contract, Tyler Polumbus' reign as Washington's starting right tackle may soon be coming to end.
As Steven Ruiz of USA Today notes, Polumbus' ouster is long overdue.
Polumbus surrendered 12 sacks in 2013 and is almost solely responsible for the $11 million that Justin Tuck garnered from the Oakland Raiders this offseason—six of Tuck's 11 sacks came against the Redskins last season.
This year's third-round pick, Morgan Moses, is expected to replace him. But will that occur in 2014 or 2015? Ask Football Outsiders' Aaron Schatz, and there's little doubt that Moses will be the starter as a rookie.
Although he's transitioning from left tackle to right tackle, Moses actually did man the right tackle spot his first three seasons at Virginia. While this experience should speed up Moses' learning curve, it'll still take some time for Moses to settle in, as Gruden stated during the team's rookie minicamp.
Set to count $2.6 million against the cap in 2014, Polumbus can be assured of one thing, though: If he can't beat out Moses for the starting gig, Polumbus won't be on Washington's roster after training camp, as the team would net $2.5 million in savings by releasing him.
There's no doubt that running back is a devalued position among modern NFL decision-makers.
Case and point, the first running back in the 2014 NFL draft was selected with the 54th overall pick, the latest in NFL history.
Considering that Washington carried four running backs on its roster last season (five if you include Darrel Young), you'd have to think the team will let go one of the holdover running backs from last after selecting Lache Seastrunk in this year's draft.
Enter—or rather, exit—Evan Royster.
Royster is a nonfactor on special teams and lacks the requisite receiving skills to complement starter Alfred Morris. With little to offer outside of insurance in case of injury, Royster doesn't have much to hang his roster spot on.
Looking at his competitors, Royster is the lone back who has this issue. Roy Helu is the unquestioned backup and the lone back with proven receiving skills. Although both unproven, Chris Thompson and Seastrunk bring enticing speed and quickness to the table and can potentially find a niche as return men on special teams.
Save for an injury to any of the aforementioned backs, especially Thompson, Royster's time in Washington is all but over.
Despite a litany of needs on an aging defense, the Redskins actually drafted a kicker!
You might scoff at the selection of Zach Hocker and give the rookie little shot at unseating Kai Forbath. Still, the mere selection of a place-kicker speaks to veteran Forbath's tenuous job security.
Although he missed only four field goals in 2013 (and making his final 13 attempts of the season), three of Forbath's misses came from 40-plus yards out, making leg strength the clear issue here.
And this weakness doesn't just rear its head on field goals. As ESPN's John Keim notes, Forbath's 14 touchbacks fall way short of the league average of 41.
In contrast, distance appears to be Hocker's strength.
During his senior season at Arkansas, Hocker was 5-of-7 on kicks over 40 yards.
While consistency was an issue for Hocker during his collegiate career, a strong showing during the preseason could very well net him Forbath's roster spot.