Reports are linking two new receivers to the Redskins this afternoon. The centerpiece of an aggressive plan, Pierre Garcon has a new contract rumored to be 5 years and $42.5 million. Josh Morgan inked a 5-year pact and is due $12 million over the first two years.
A couple of days ago, I suggested Robert Griffin III would be an immediate fantasy starter due to a projected WR lineup that included Vincent Jackson and Leonard Hankerson with Santana Moss in the slot. Washington’s pursuit of Jackson may have died when they suffered a massive salary cap penalty for failing to collude during the uncapped year. A Garcon/Morgan tandem is not as exciting, especially if it blocks Hankerson’s ascent.
Garcon has a negative PFF grade in each of his four seasons. The Mount Union product has been plagued by drops and benefited from coverage being rolled to Wayne, Clark, and others. In 2010 with Peyton Manning at the helm, Garcon finished fourth among the Colts main targets in yards per pass route run (fifth if you include Jacob Tamme). His 1.32 yards per route number was nearly a full yard behind Austin Collie. He also finished with fewer yards on deep passes than the slot receiver, and more than 200 fewer than Reggie Wayne. To put that in context, current Redskin Anthony Armstrong recorded 477 receiving yards on passes that traveled more than 20 yards in the air in 2010. Garcon has only 361 in the last two years combined.
Garcon’s peripherals did improve in the absence of Manning this past year. He tied Wayne in yprr with 1.66 and finished 38th in the NFL in deep passing yards. He also dropped fewer than 7% of his passes. Garcon may not be the type of receiver to take advantage of Griffin’s big arm, but he did average 5 yards after the catch – good for 25th in the league among receivers with at least 50 targets.
The scuttlebutt around the league suggests Morgan is a talented receiver who was underutilized by the 49ers. The PFF numbers disagree. Morgan recorded negative grades in 2008, 2009, and 2010 before a notching a positive grade on limited snaps last season. On the other hand, Morgan’s yards per route numbers have trended positively for three straight seasons, a positive progression for someone playing in a poor offense for a previously dysfunctional franchise. Morgan also offers strong after-catch ability with a career average north of 5 yac per reception.
Washington would have been better off with one big star, and things will only get worse if they succeed in their pursuit of Eddie Royal. Leonard Hankerson is a much bigger talent than Morgan and probably even Garcon. (He averaged more yards per route in 2011 than either of them.) Garcon will obviously start and be heavily targeted. Expect his numbers to mirror those of his 2011 campaign with 125 targets, 70 receptions, 950 yards, and 6 TDs.
Josh Morgan is merely roster depth in fantasy, while Santana Moss and Jabar Gaffney would seem to be on their way out of Washington. These signings should push Hankerson’s ADP down into bargain basement territory, yet he remains a better breakout candidate than Morgan.