At combine, Redskins viewed by some as team ‘in disarray’
indianapolis — As the NFL Scouting Combine nears its close and the first rush of free agent shopping approaches, confusion continues to swirl around the Washington Redskins and their absent General Manager Scot McCloughan.
In hotel lobbies, along the halls of the Indiana Convention Center, over meals in high-priced restaurants and over drinks in dimly lit bars, opposing coaches, officials and scouts, player agents and reporters can’t help but ask about the absence of Washington’s top talent evaluator at the league’s premier proving ground event.
Redskins officials downplayed the seriousness of the situation — described only as “family matters” — and expressed confidence that they have enough people capable of conducting evaluations to ensure that they have all the information they need to compile their draft board once they return
to Ashburn. It’s possible that McCloughan will resume leading draft-planning meetings this coming week, team President Bruce Allen said.
But many outsiders, namely agents of potential free agent targets, including some of Washington’s own players with expiring contracts, aren’t sold. They expressed concern that there was more to McCloughan’s absence than the Feb. 6 death of his 100year-old grandmother. People also worried about the significance of the perceived organizational dysfunction.
One agent who had contact with Redskins officials during the week in Indianapolis described his impression of the franchise as “in disarray.” Another said, “I’m not exactly sure who’s in charge over there now.”
Two representatives of prominent free agents on other teams said the uncertainty surrounding McCloughan’s standing within the organization, plus earlier reports of division in the front office, would prompt them to steer their clients clear of the Redskins.
Given that Washington officials had already indicated a plan to primarily pursue second-tier free agents, it’s possible the uncertainty surrounding McCloughan might not have much of an impact on their plans. The players Washington might target would likely be less selective in their desired destinations, instead more eager for opportunities for bigger roles.
That’s a positive considering the Redskins enter free agency with a slew of needs — with defensive end, defensive tackle and linebacker leading the way.
There still isn’t much movement on Washington’s own free agent players.
Chris Baker, the team’s top defensive lineman the past two seasons, is a free agent, and there’s mutual interest in keeping the fifth-year pro in Washington. His representatives met with team officials, according to two sources, who described the talks as “encouraging.” However, no offer was extended.
Meanwhile, as Tuesday’s start of the free agent negotiating window approaches, it appears more likely that Washington could lose top wideouts Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson.
The Redskins have both publicly and privately expressed a desire to re-sign one or both of their 1,000-yard wide receivers. But people familiar with the market call that unlikely.
Multiple people familiar with the Redskins’ deliberations say they believe that Garcon and Jackson’s asking prices could be too rich for the Redskins.
The Redskins didn’t meet with representative of Garcon despite the fact that since signing a fiveyear, $42.5 million deal with Washington in 2012, he has served as the team’s most consistent receiving threat, averaging 75 catches for 909 yards and four touchdowns.
Garcon has also ranked among the most productive receivers on the free agent market. League insiders say they believe he will draw offers of between $7 million and $10 million per year.
Redskins officials were scheduled to meet with Jackson’s agent Saturday. However, people close to Jackson say the nine-year veteran is likely to land more lucrative offers from outside teams. Some league insiders say they believe that Jackson — who remains one of the fastest receivers in the NFL and has averaged 47 catches for 900 yards and 4.6 touchdowns in three seasons with Washington — could command a payday worth $9 million to $12 million per season.
If both wide receivers leave, the Redskins plan to go young.
Coaches would craft a more significant role for Jamison Crowder, who has started 15 of 32 games in his first two seasons in the league as a slot receiver, combining for 126 catches, 1,451 yards and nine touchdowns.
Crowder probably will move out of the slot, two people familiar with the situation said. The Redskins’ belief is that Crowder has the ability to play both outside receiver positions, but it remains to be seen how the 5-foot-9, 182pound former fourth-round pick will fare against the NFL’s top cornerbacks as opposed to the nicklebacks, linebackers and safeties he dealt with in the slot.
The departure of Garcon and Jackson would also translate into larger roles for fourth-year veteran Ryan Grant and second-year pro Maurice Harris. Both have played primarily on the outside, with Grant spelling Jackson and Harris relieving Garcon here and there last season. However, both have the ability to play the slot receiver position as well.
The unknown is 2016 firstround pick Josh Doctson, who missed all but two games last season with Achilles’ tendon injuries. Doctson has made his most significant progress in rehabilitation the past month. He has resumed route-running without any limitation.
The Redskins say they hope that Doctson — regarded by some as the best receiver in last year’s draft — can develop into a versatile pass-catcher who capitalizes both on his size (6-2, 206 pounds) and speed (clocked at 4.5 in the 40). But until he practices for an extended stretch, coaches really won’t know what to expect.