ASHBURN, Va. -- In our final look of our three-part free agency preview 'Here or Elsewhere,' we go to the specialists and special-teams units that get so little attention ... until they make a huge mistake.
In 2020, the Washington Football Team's three main specialists were expected to be strengths. Only two were.
Free agent-to-be Dustin Hopkins struggled, and outside of a few games, it was a steady stream of mistakes that may have cost Washington a win along the way. Yet coach Ron Rivera and aide Nate Kaczor stayed with Hopkins.
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Let's take a look at the two core specialists and our status projections:
Nick Sundberg: Sundberg has been with the Washington Football Team since 2010, which makes him the longest-tenured player in the organization.
He's tough, reliable and very smooth at what he does, which doesn't earn him any credit ... but is a necessary part of football.
Sundberg played 150 special-teams' snaps and made exactly one tackle and had two misses as charted by ProFootballFocus.com (PFF).
Bad snaps? We're sure there were a couple that weren't perfect, but there weren't any that were "bad.''.
Sundberg is great in the community and just had his first son. It's a great fit in all ways here and would be a disappointment if he's not back.
Dustin Hopkins: Hopkins' worst year of his time with the WFT came at the worst possible time. With a largely new coaching staff, Hopkins needed a good year to cinch a contract ... and it didn't happen.
Hopkins was 7-8 from between 30-39, 13-17 from between 40-49 and 2-4 from 50-plus.
He missed two extra-point attempts. At 27-34 on field goals and 79.4 percent, it was his lowest percentage mark of his tenure and down from nearly 90 percent in 2018
His kickoffs were OK but several fell mysteriously short. It's often hard to know what is by design and what is not but something seemed off from Hopkins at times, even in this area.
READ MORE: Keepers on Offense
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This is the toughest call of all the free agents because Washington does not really have a replacement for Hopkins. ... and it could have been just a bad year. But on an offense with very little margin for error, it's hard to see Hopkins coming back on a multi-year deal. Perhaps the WFT and Hopkins arrange a one-year deal that provides a little security but also flexibility? Or Washington could wipe the slate clean.