Free Agency 2011 – Redskins Over-the-Hill Receivers

| July 28, 2011

During last year’s offseason, the Redskins made some headlines uniting Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson and Willie Parker to fight for carries in training camp. While the three of them have over 20,000 yards rushing combined, Johnson and Parker didn’t make it to the end of September, and Portis was cut prior to the lockout.
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This year, the Redskins are trying the same strategy of adding players over the age of 30 and seeing what works out, this time at receiver. It started with bringing back their star receiver Santana Moss. A trade with Denver brought them Jabar Gaffney, and they signed Donte Stallworth from the Ravens and Brandon Stokley from the Seahawks.

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Throw in the three receivers the Redskins picked in the draft along with Anthony Armstrong, Roydell Williams and Brandon Banks, and you have a very crowded receiving corps. Not all of them can make the roster, as ten players are fighting for about five spots. Here are my thoughts on who might be on the roster in a little over a month from now, and who will be looking for a new home.
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The locks

Ranking 26th on our free agent list was Santana Moss, who has been the best receiver on the team in recent years. I would say he will make the roster and the starting lineup. The Redskins spent a third round pick on Leonard Hankerson, so I would guess he will make it as well. Their return man Brandon Banks was one of the best in the league last year, so a third roster spot will be his although he probably won’t see much time on offense.
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This leaves seven players for two or three roster spots. Because we just grade players in the pros, I don’t know much about Niles Paul or Aldrick Robinson yet, but the practice squad for one or both of these players is an option if they can’t make the roster. Here is how I rank the other five options.
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1. Brandon Stokley

While it’s unlikely for him to get a starting role, he showed in the second half of the 2010 season with Seattle that he still has what it takes to produce from the slot. Only targeted 42 times, he managed a very strong 73% catch rate. The only problem there is Santana Moss also plays well in the slot. They could both play in four receiver sets, and could share time in some three receiver sets. He would only be the third or fourth receiver and get a handful of snaps a game, but he plays too well to let go.
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2. Jabar Gaffney

After not gelling well with Matt Cassel in New England, he was able to put up some respectable numbers in Denver the past two years. In 2010, he caught 61% of the balls thrown his way for 13.6 yards per catch. Not outstanding numbers, but he is the most experienced of these five in recent years. In the past, he has played some in the slot position, but would likely play on the outside more often than not.
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3. Anthony Armstrong

In his first year with playing time, Armstrong was mostly a deep threat for the Redskins. His 19.8 yards per catch was third highest for qualifying receivers last year, but he wasn’t able to make the big plays with enough consistency and had a negative overall receiving rating unlike Stokley and Gaffney. While he has only had one season of play, he is already 28.
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4. Donte’ Stallworth

In the second half of 2010, he served as the fourth receiver for the Ravens but rarely had a chance; thrown at just five times. The last we really saw of Stallworth was in Cleveland in 2008, where he held on to less than half of the passes his way for only 10 yards per catch. Those aren’t strong numbers for someone who is getting up there in years, but the memory of his potential still remains. The only reason he is four and not five on this list is because the Redskins just choose to sign him.
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5. Roydell Williams

He saw a good number of snaps in the second half of the season with the Redskins last year, earning a negative receiving rating in eight straight games. He is 30 years old and with the Redskins signing receivers like they have, it’s clear they plan on replacing him. The best chance for him might be getting cut now and seeing if he signs on elsewhere.
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Closing Thoughts

The decision to sign four receivers that are 30 or older after making receiver a priority in the draft is a perplexing one. There are other positions of need such as the offensive line, but if anything, it leads to a very intense position battle in camp for each of the wide receiver spots.
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  • kmcdonald5500

    Stokely never signed, Roydell Williams has already been cut and there are strong rumors around Redskins message boards that Banks wont make the team because of character issues.

    • Nathan Jahnke

      At the time of publishing this, Stokley’s agent said congrats on him joining the Redskins, which at this point should be a fairly credible source. The Redskins also hadn’t said who they were releasing until after this was published as well.