Washington needs at least one receiver and receiving tight end or this offense is going nowhere regardless who’s the quarterback. Indeed, Dwayne Haskins can emerge as the second coming in his second year, but without targets his passes are pointless.
Meanwhile, the team has an abundance of running backs and defensive linemen. While depth is doubly important in the Season of COVID-19, Washington should consider trading a runner and lineman to fill gaping holes or it will lose even low-scoring games.
Forget trading for future picks. This is a player-for-player proposal. A runner for a tight end, a pass rusher for a receiver who will help this season because receiver Terry McLaurin can’t do it alone and will be even more pressed as defenses double him.
Aside first-rounder Chase Young, everybody is expendable from future hall-of-fame running back Adrian Peterson to Washington’s four other first-rounders on the defensive line. The problem is Washington must first figure out its lineup first.
Peterson is temporarily the leader as training camp begins. His past two years locally plus a great career entitle him to first chair. But, coach Ron Rivera’s initial season is all about setting up seasons two and three and Peterson is 35-years old. The latter has only remained the starter because Derrius Guice couldn’t stay healthy. And, another knee injury would be Guice’s third strike so either he emerges as the top option and remains durable or he’s on the road to exile.
Bryce Love is finally healthy after missing his rookie season following two knee surgeries. He averaged 8.1 yards per carry at Stanford and could emerge the starter. Rivera is all about young players.
But then, there’s rookie Antonio Gibson, a third rounder who is at least a third-down back and at best the next Chris Thompson. Maybe Gibson’s a luxury, maybe he’s a primary playmaker. Also, don’t forget rookie J.D. McKissic offers potential.
If healthy come camp’s end, and why not given there’s barely two weeks of hitting in practice and no games, Guice should be the starter over Love and Peterson with Gibson a role player. Peterson won’t be happy unless he’s a starter and could be dangled in a trade. He has no value in draft picks, but a team should be willing to surrender its second or third receiver for him. The others are less tradeable given they’re more potential than proven.
Defensively, Washington has five first-rounders on the line plus a couple other good players. This could be a top five line and can afford to trade one for offensive help.
Young is untouchable and 2019 first-rounder Montez Sweat should be, too. Young was just taken second overall in the April draft and is hopefully the tip of the spear for the pass rush. Sweat played well late last season and hopefully quickly adjusts in the team’s conversion from 3-4 to 4-3. He could be something special.
The same can’t be said for 2017 first-rounder Jonathan Allen and 2018 first-rounder Daron Payne. They’ve just been guys. No real flashes, especially by Payne. They’re decent players, but if someone wants them in the trade, consider the deal.
Matt Ioannidis and Tim Settle weren’t first-rounders, but the former has outperformed his linemates and Settle has caught Rivera’s eye already as a valued backup. Ioannidis is worth swapping for a starter.
Ryan Kerrigan is the easiest to peddle in the last year of his contract. He’s coming off his first career injury, but otherwise been a core player. Kerrigan has a year or two left of productivity so he’s gone by the time Washington might build a contender. Better to get a young offensive player for him that can produce in 2022 when the team is ready to contend.
Some team come late August will need a running back or defensive lineman and have a receiver or tight end to spare. As a new coach, Rivera has no sentimental attachment to past players and should look for someone who can help Haskins move the chains. He’ll just have to deal from his stockpile to get one.
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Rick Snider is an award-winning sports writer who has covered Washington sports since 1978. He first wrote about the Redskins in 1983 before becoming a beat writer in 1993. Snider currently writes for several national and international publications and is a Washington tour guide. Follow Rick on Twitter at @Snide_Remarks.