Things are looking up for the Washington Football Team. At least on paper they are, right?
Washington is fresh off of a 7-9 season, but a NFC East division title as well. If anything, WFT proved against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the wild card round that its almost are ready to contend with the big boys.
Head coach Ron Rivera spent the offseason working on that.
Everything WFT did this spring was to better the players around them. Defensively, it could make an argument to be the top unit in the league. Offensively is another story.
There certainly are pieces in place for Washington to be successful. WFT upgraded at quarterback, wide receiver, and even parts of the offensive line. Is that enough to win the NFC East again?
Anything can change as camp begins and roster cuts are still weeks away, but these 15 players have almost assuredly already earned their spot among the final 53.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick: Yes, the 38-year-old is a journeyman, but he played his best football last season. Fitzpatrick totaled 2,091 passing yards, along with 13 touchdowns on his way to helping Tua Tagovailoa become Miami's starter. At times, he looked to be the better option against top-tier defenses. Again, Fitzpatrick hasn't played a full season since he started in 2015, but there's enough positives to prove he can be a quality option with a good supporting cast. After all, he's Washington's best option for now.
QB Taylor Heinicke: He's not going to be the starter during the first weeks of camp or even early in the season, because Rivera is an also handing the keys over to Fitzpatrick. But after his decent showing against the Bucs in the playoffs, Heinicke is considered more than a worthy backup.
RB Antonio Gibson: He wasn't a full-time running back in college, but no one would ever know by the way he played last year. As a rookie, Gibson improved every snap and game to post strong numbers by midseason. He also led WFT in total touchdowns with 11. With over 1,000 total yards of offense, Gibson proved he could be a true lead runner even without the benefit of a preseason. Imagine what he will do with an offseason to better his skills behind the offensive line?
RB J.D. McKissic: Gibson's backup might not be the right term for McKissic because he offers so much in the passing game. Last year, he finished second on the team in receptions and third in yards. Offensive coordinator Scott Turner is expected to feature a more balanced attack, meaning cutting McKissic isn't an option.
WR Terry McLaurin: Pretty simple here. McLaurin surpassed 1,000 yards last year for the first time in his career. The year prior, he scored seven touchdowns. If those numbers continue to climb in 2021, he'll be regarded as a top 10 wide receiver in the NFL.
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WR Curtis Samuel: Although he currently remains on the PUP list, Samuel was the second big free agent signing of the offseason. Last year he did everything for the Carolina Panthers, including being a change of pace player in the running game. Samuel is familiar with Turner's system and should be ready to build off his 2020 season when healthy.
WR Dyami Brown: No one knows what to make of Brown just yet, but his college tape suggests he'll be a quality vertical option. In his final two seasons at North Carolina, the third-round pick averaged 20 yards per play and over 1,000 yards on the campaign. Even if his role is limited, he should provide value.
WR Adam Humphries: This might seem odd, but Humphries was brought in for a reason. Fitzpatrick was at his best during his time in Tampa Bay, when he relied heavily on the new WFT receiver in the slot. A similar build to that of Cole Beasley, Humphries likely is a third-down target to keep drives alive, while also helping on special teams.
TE Logan Thomas: The former quarterback is now a star tight end and one of WFT's main weapons. He signed a three-year contract extension on Tuesday that will keep him in D.C. through 2024. He posted career numbers in 2020 and will be Fitzpatrick's main option in the red zone.
TE John Bates: Of the three tight ends that could be kept, Bates' youth and value in the passing game makes him the top option. He'll be under contract for four years should he hit, and is a nice balanced player between being a blocker and pass-catcher.
OT Charles Leno Jr.: The big signing after the NFL Draft, Leno isn't going anywhere. He's on a one-year, $5 million deal and started seven years Bears for the Chicago on the left side. Here's hoping he can be the next long-term blindside protector.
OT Samuel Cosmi: He might eventually move inside to guard, but he'll be tested first as Morgan Moses' replacement. When looking at his overall game, the Texas alum is a balanced player in pass pro and run blocking sets. He should at least be stable in his first season on the right side.
OT Cornelius Lucas: Every team needs a swing tackle and Lucas is the best bet. The veteran played eight games on the left side last year, looking fairly decent against top talent. If Cosmi or Leno struggle, or suffer an injury, he's the first man up.
OL Brandon Scherff: This might be his last season, but Scherff will be starting at right guard. After two years of trying to come to an agreement on a long-term deal, Washington likely will be watching him walk next offseason. Still, he's a Pro Bowl guard and plays like one, meaning he's the starter.
OL Chase Roullier: Perhaps Washington's most underrated offensive player, Roullier has been a constant at the center spot since 2018. He's a bulldozer against the run and allows little pressure up the middle. This offseason, two sides agreed to a four-year extension, keeping him in Washington through 2024.
CONTINUE READING: Fantasy Football: Washington Sleeper Pick