Should the Redskins Add AB, Josh Gordon or Martavis?
The Washington Redskins enter the 2020 season with a sense of optimism, but also an array of questions. With a new direction, coupled with a more established coaching staff, there is a real sense that the team is becoming more credible around the league.
However, when compared to the upper-echelon teams, there is a clear deficit of talent, especially on the offensive side of the ball. In 2019, the team ranked last in terms of points scored (266) and passing yards (2812). They also ranked 32nd in terms of first downs (248) and 28th in terms of touchdowns scored (18).
Therefore, it would be a disservice if the team did not self-evaluate and explore all options on the free agent market. And, as we have seen over the last few weeks, intriguing wide receiver options are now available.The names that are out there include Antonio Brown, Josh Gordon and Martavis Bryant. Each of the receivers could provide a veteran of significance to pair with an emerging Terry Mclaurin, but they also provide some baggage. That’s why they are available in the first place.
Let’s take a look at the Pros/Cons of each player:
Case For: Antonio Brown’s talent is undeniable. When he became a full-time starter in 2011, he began an eight year stretch where he was targeted over a 100 times. He peaked during the 2015 season, where he had 136 receptions and 1834 yards.
There was also a stretch between 2014 and 2018, where he averaged 11.8 touchdowns per season. That type of production is almost unprecedented in Washington. The last time a Redskins receiver approached 10 touchdowns was nine by Santana Moss in 2005.
Altogether, Brown has 841 receptions, 11,263 yards and 75 receiving touchdowns in his career. Making him one of the most prolific receivers of this era.
Case Against: When the season begins, Brown will be turning 32 years old, so it’s fair to question, “How much is left in the tank?” and how fast his skills will diminish.
Also, in terms of pleasing the wideout, that may be hard to do. After trading a third and fifth-round pick to acquire the receiver, the Oakland Raiders made Brown the highest paid receiver in the league, at age 30. That still wasn’t enough.
Brown went on to have a very public dispute with the NFL over it’s new helmet modifications. He threatened to hold-out for the season and engaged in a public argument with Raiders GM Mike Mayock. As a result, the team decided to sink their losses and release the player before he ever took a down.
The New England Patriots then took a flier on the receiver, but that was also short-lived. He was released only after one game, despite scoring a touchdown. Considering the prestige of the Patriots, and their ability to get players to “buy in” to their system, this raises eyebrows in terms of team culture.
Since then, the player has been involved in several off the field incidents, including a domestic dispute that was posted on social media.
Case for: “Flash” Gordon still has some upside as he recently turned 29 years old. At 6’3 and 225 lbs, the receiver could provide a big body presence to expedite Dwayne Haskins’ development. He has also spent the last two years in New England and Seattle, which may have provided him some nuance and a better understanding of the game.
The Seahawks connection is especially interesting, considering Russell Wilson’s style. The quarterback is known for improvising and allowing his receivers to react on broken down plays. That may be helpful for Haskins.
Also, due to his suspensions, he has spent time away from the game. So he may have less wear-and-tear than other receivers that are relative in age.
At his prime, Gordon offered intriguing upside, becoming a first-team All Pro for the Cleveland Browns in 2013 with 87 receptions, 1646 yards and nine touchdowns.
Case Against: Unfortunately he can’t stay on the field. Whether it has been injury or issues with substance abuse, Gordon has struggled to be a regular contributor to an NFL team. Since he has been in the league, he has had five suspensions for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, and was out of the league for 2015 and 2016.
He has yet to play a full NFL season, and has not eclipsed 750 receiving yards in over seven years. Unfortunately, that 2013 season may have been the outlier as opposed to the mean.
Case for: At age 28, Martavis Bryant is the youngest of this group and still offers intriguing size at six-foot-four. While at Pittsburgh, he offered versatility as a boundary wide receiver, but could also play the slot.
He is noted for having a torrid start to his career, when he scored six touchdowns in his first four games. He was also known as a big play threat for the Steelers.
In his first two seasons in the Pittsburgh offense he offered an impressive 21.1 and 15.3 yards per catch average, coupled with 14 touchdowns.
Case Against: Bryant has also had trouble staying in the league as he has been suspended in three of his last four seasons. He was tagged for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, as well as avoiding league administered drug tests.
Also, he was out of the league last year, and last played in 2018. It was widely reported that he struggled to grasp the Raiders’ offense, and Head Coach Jon Gruden released him before the season. However, he was re-signed ten days later and played in 8 games and posted 19 catches, 266 yards and no touchdowns. He ended the season on injured reserve with a knee injury.
Despite the intriguing upside of the potential wide receivers, I think it would be best to avoid the group altogether. The Redskins appear to have hit the reset button and would like to build a team based off of youth and continuity. According to FootballOutsiders.com, the team is the sixth youngest team in the NFL with an average age of 26.0. And this includes an aging Adrian Peterson and Alex Smith.
With the addition of any of these receivers, it would limit the playing time of Steven Sims Jr, Antonio Gandy-Golden and Kelvin Harmon. Which would be detrimental to their growth and would send a poor message to Harmon who has spent a majority of the offseason building chemistry with Haskins in workouts.
You could argue that the risk of adding Bryant and Gordon has gone down significantly, with the looser restriction on the NFL drug policy. But I’d argue that their inconsistent play, and sporadic appearances in the league doesn’t provide enough juice for the squeeze. The Redskins seem to be preaching accountability at this time.
Of the group, Brown would likely have the most immediate impact, but his off the field antics may provide attention that Coach Rivera would like to avoid. Besides, at this point in his career, Brown is likely to join a contender and has been rumored to join the Baltimore Ravens and Seattle Seahawks.
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George Carmi is an editor/contributing writer to FullPressCoverage.com or @FPC_Redskins. He is a native of the DC metropolitan area and is an avid fan of DC Sports. A former journalism major at the University of Maryland, his focus is now in public education. His earliest memories consist of Darrell Green, "The Posse" and Super Bowl XXVI. Follow him on twitter @Gcarmi21