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Need to Know: Why did McCloughan bring the 32-year-old Davis to the Redskins?

Apr 1, 2016, 5:12 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Friday, April 1, 27 days before the NFL Draft.


—The Redskins last played a game 82 days ago. It will be about 163 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 17; 2016 NFL draft 27; Redskins training camp starts 118

Hot topic

Less than an hour after I hit the “publish” button on this post about how Scot McCloughan is operating a lot like Packers GM Ted Thompson the news that the Redskins had signed 32-year-old tight end Vernon Davis broke. That was a decidedly un-Thompson like move. So why did McCloughan do it?

For one thing, tight ends are become scarce these days. Spread offenses don’t use them and so the number of quality tight ends coming out of the college ranks seems to shrink every year. McCloughan undoubtedly would rather obtain tight end depth through the draft but it’s possible that he has looked at all of the prospects and decided that the chances of landing one he wants in a place in the draft where he could be the best available player were extremely slim.

It’s also important that McCloughan knows Davis well. He drafted him in San Francisco in 2006. One of the things that McCloughan said that he didn’t like about signing free agents is that you didn’t know how they will fit in the locker room. McCloughan worked with Davis for five years so he knows that the player will fit right in to the Redskins’ culture.

It’s similar to last year when McCloughan acquired just one player over the age of 30, Dashon Goldson. The safety came in a trade but the reasoning is the same. Safety is a tough position to fill in the draft (the better athletes are gravitating to cornerback, where the money is better) and McCloughan knew Goldson from their days together in San Francisco.

Fan question of the day

how can the redskins improve their defense from last season?

I can only scratch the surface of this here but here are the two improvements they can make that I think would have the most immediate impact.

Increase their sacks and interceptions I don’t see their defensive backfield becoming a shutdown unit so the pass defense will depend on pass rush. The addition of Junior Galette and what should be further development for Preston Smith should help. More pressure will help the defensive backs in coverage and the Redskins may be able to double their interception total from last year.

Stop the run on first down Sure they need to stop the run all the time. But they were the worst in the NFL on first down, giving up a little over 5 yards per attempt. This is a matter of simple, fundamental defense, with the front seven being where they are supposed to be and not missing tackles.

(Hit me up on Twitter with #NTK @Rich_TandlerCSN or here in the comments to submit a question)

In case you missed it



  1. abanig - Apr 1, 2016 at 6:09 AM

    One reason why I don’t think Knighton was paid more to be retained is because he was supposed to be the run stuffer, and it was obvious to anyone that watched that it didn’t happen most of the time when he was on the field.

    So what have the Redskins done in this area?

    Well for one, they got younger and more in shape players when they signed Ziggy Hood & Kendall Reyes. Kedric Golston is a good run defender and from most people’s opinions and from Chris Cooley’s film study, Golston played better against the run last year than Knighton did. They also still have Jerrell Powe on their team who isn’t much of a pass rusher but he is a “solid” 335 pound stout run defender.

    Ziggy Hood isn’t much of a pass rusher, but he’s known as a stout run defender that plays both DE & NT. He along with Paea are two of the strongest players on the team, Hood is extremely strong and we all know that Paea broke records at the combine for his bench pressing.

    I still think they’ll draft a defensive lineman in the draft early in round 1 or 2 and one in the mid to late rounds for depth and to develop.

    • renhoekk2 - Apr 1, 2016 at 10:51 AM

      You are using logic and common sense. Stop it. This is a Redskins discussion board. That type of thinking is not tolerated.

      • ohioskins - Apr 1, 2016 at 11:23 AM

        There are certain times, not often but times like right now, when I really wish Tandler had a “like” option on this thing… lol

    • redskinsnameisheretostay - Apr 2, 2016 at 9:38 AM

      I don’t care what Cooley cherry picked on film on Kedric Golston just to prove his point. He is not a quality starting NT and never will be. If this is what the coaches are looking for as next season’s NT then the 3-4 is virtually useless and this defense will be on the bottom half of the league. Offenses will have a field day running the ball on this team with Kedric Golston as a regular NT. This is just nonsense to buy Gruden publicly stated notion that he being a possible solution to that position.

      • abanig - Apr 4, 2016 at 9:49 AM

        Goldson isn’t starting quality but there’s a reason he’s been on the Redskins for a decade. He follows his assignments unlike other defensive tackles we’ve seen come and go in the last decade.

        If the skins don’t go NT in round 1 or 2, they have Baker, Paea and Hood who can all play NT in our one-gal under scheme.

  2. colorofmyskinz - Apr 1, 2016 at 6:36 AM

    Great to have Vernon Davis!! He can help develop Reed and provides depth. As far as I know he is a healthy 32. Now with Reed, Paul, Paulson, Carrier, Jensen, and Vernon Davis we do have depth at TE. And Jensen is a beast. I think we can get through the season well with this group. Not sure what happened to Alex Smith that we got midseason.

    At any rate comfortable with this group. We do need to draft one either this year or next still.

    But for 2016-2017, we have a nice group here!

    Can you imagine Reed, Davis, DJax, Garçon, and Crowder on the field at the same time? Or Reed, Davis, DJax, Garçon, Jones? Wow. Obviously that is with a zero back situation, but wow. Very hard to cover that period.

    Defense? Quite simple. Take 2 DLine, 1 safety, and 1 CB in the draft and we are set!

    We will have Golston, Pea, Jean-Fran, Reyes, Bake, Hood, Johnson, Johnson, Gayle, Biukadi, Crawford… I forgot we picked up a number of DLine last year end of year waivers. If we add 2 solid from draft with one of them an instant starter line will be set.

    Bruton was a great add! Having Jerret and Ihencho healthy will be huge at safety. Adding another potential starter out of draft would be huge.

    If Culliver can get healthy and we add a potential starter at CB…

    Adding Gallette and Murohy with more weight…

    These changes will all make a difference. Starting to see the big picture!


  3. hail74 - Apr 1, 2016 at 6:47 AM

    Two of the longest runs we gave up last year,Martin’s 50 harder and Ingram’s 70 were a direct result of poor player execution. Or rather poor execution by Goldson. Both times he hit them square in the gut at the line of scrimmage. Both times he failed to wrap up and the player just ran through him.

    • sidepull - Apr 1, 2016 at 7:47 AM

      I wish somebody would sign Goldson. I dont like the fact that hes treading water out there and that the Redskins are still capable of throwing him a life preserver.

      • ET - Apr 1, 2016 at 9:14 AM

        I don’t like it either. But I imagine the sticking point is money. Goldson likely wants one last payday and is less than excited about his diminishing market value. He won’t get the contract he got from Tampa, that’s for sure.

        • Mr.moneylover - Apr 1, 2016 at 9:27 AM

          When the reporter ask scot m. About goldson he didn’t want to talk about goldson…I think he kinda figure goldson not the same player he was and now he’s all about getting money for his average play

    • Trey Gregory - Apr 1, 2016 at 12:32 PM

      He wouldn’t be a bad guy to bring in, if nothing else, for depth and leadership. Say what you want about him, but he was the team’s leading tackler last year. So all these comments about him not tackling well… what does that say about everyone else? I would be happy if he comes back for a decent price.

      There’s a reason analytics don’t work as well in football as they do baseball. Because you can’t account for leadership and cohesiveness with math. Baseball is a team sport, but it’s often one pitcher and one batter squaring off. Few plays with multiple players. In football, there’s 11 guys who have to work in unison on every snap. That’s where leadership comes in. So, I don’t think it’s wise to discard a guy just because his numbers weren’t exactly what you want. That team overachieved last season for the talent level. That’s leadership and cohesiveness. I don’t think it’s wise to toss that aside.

      • Mr.moneylover - Apr 1, 2016 at 2:05 PM

        Ricky jean was a leader in that locker room last year along with Trent Williams and with the addition of V.Davis and I assume A.Boldin that’s enough leadership right there

        • Trey Gregory - Apr 1, 2016 at 4:07 PM

          Yeah, you’re not wrong. Not that any of us were in the locker room. But Francois was a great leadership in the locker room according to the reports. I just don’t know about “better.” That’s hard to say if you weren’t actually there.

          I just know we lost a lot of leadership and brotherhood with Knighton and Goldson. It would only be normal for Baker to be a bit bothered that they low balled his best friend. And Francois made it clear he wanted Knighton back. Im not saying that will affect their play, just that, we know, we lost leaders who worked well with that locker room.

          I’m not going to count on Boldin until he’s signed. But Davis should be a great addition from a leadership perspective. And obviously we have Williams, Kerrigan, Hall, Cousins, Garcon, etc., etc. I’m just talking chemistry. We know that group worked well.

        • Mr.moneylover - Apr 2, 2016 at 12:05 PM

          When its all said and done pot roast gotta look out for himself and Chris baker gotta do the same….adding new pieces to the D-line will only help the defense…pot roast showed lil production last year to get paid 4.5 mill for just 1 year… If Chris baker struggle this year in a contract year then we will just cut him and replace him…scot m. Refuse to be stuck with a player whose struggling that’s why this season gotta be big for a guy like Trent Murphy because he haven’t made no progress from year to year and might get cut if his next position he plays dont workout this season

    • Chad - Apr 2, 2016 at 2:42 AM

      Martins run he completly missed. He didn’t hit him in his stomach. His job was to lush the runner back inside where his help was, he took a inside move (wrong way) and Martin ran around him and down the sideline.
      The other play I will take your word for it, I didn’t analyze that game.

  4. colorofmyskinz - Apr 1, 2016 at 6:50 AM

    Starting to think about how thin we are at RB. Basically Jones after surgery, Thompson torn labrum, Silat Redd major knee surgery..,

    We are in bad shape here. Need some ball runners bad, might even need 2 from draft if we don’t resign Pierre.

    We also have to draft a QB.

    2 needs we cannot overlook. The Davis pick up might allow us to focus on RB this year.

    • sidepull - Apr 1, 2016 at 7:45 AM

      Pierre Tomas

    • jonevans511 - Apr 1, 2016 at 9:28 AM

      I feel where you’re coming from on RB but I don’t sweat it nearly as much. The Cowboys, who undoubtedly have a superior OL at this point I’ll admit, had a combo of Randle-Dunbar-Mcfadden last year and I’m sure Boys fans were at least a little wary. Randle then fizzled out, Dunbar showed his only value is on 3rd down/passing situations, and Mcfadden remarkably stayed healthy while staying productive. Point is, going iin to the season RB was a huge question mark for them whether they’d admit it or not, and things worked out.

      In Arizona, they had the ever-confusing Chris Johnson who while skilled had not produced at a high level for a while and then a rookie 3rd round (I believe) back in David Johnson. Both backs had solid to very good seasons, but who bet on that being the case prior to 2015-16 season? It just so happened that DJ may have been one of the steals from last year’s draft, but again, no one could say that for sure going in to the season.

      I could go on and on at the RB position but the point is if we can at least get our run blocking on point it won’t matter nearly as much who’s carrying the ball. We’ve all seen what MJ can do at his best, Thompson provides value despite some folks who doubt his abilities, and Redd is a wild card who very well could come in and show out. While I absolutely think we need to scoop up a back in the draft and maybe a UDFA as well, I wouldn’t worry all that much about RB when we really need to focus on run blocking. As sidepull pointed out, Pierre Thomas would also be a solid pickup regardless what we do in the draft.

      • bangkokben - Apr 1, 2016 at 9:45 AM

        While I’m in agreement with your overall lack of concern about the Redskins’ running back situation, you couldn’t be further from the mark with this comment: “Point is, going in to the season RB was a huge question mark for them (Cowboys) whether they’d admit it or not, and things worked out.” Things worked out???!! Their running game was supposed to hold the season together while their quarterback healed. Because they couldn’t find consistency there, they’re picking fourth in the draft.

      • John - Apr 1, 2016 at 12:29 PM

        The backs in Dallas would have fared better had Romo been in there. Nice to have a defense have to worry about the pass.

        CJ and DJ had Carson Palmer. CJ had to suffer in Tennessee with Locker, Curly and Moe…

        The backs we have should heal up, however I would be concerned about Thompson. The less he runs the ball, the less chance of injury. They could use another back as a complement to Jones with a shifty running style, who can make multiple cuts.

        Pierre Thomas will be out there as a free agent who can be picked up on the fly, should someone get injured. Being Scott M has not pursued further it should be clear they don’t see him as a long term solution.

    • Mr.moneylover - Apr 1, 2016 at 9:29 AM

      They will draft a RB in the late round..they will get better at the position

    • Chad - Apr 2, 2016 at 2:45 AM

      Don’t worry till the season starts. We have
      1. Draft
      2. Still have FA
      3. Teams will cut vets after draft
      4. UDFA afyer draft.
      Still plenty of time and players to find.
      I’m worried about our starter, he played like a beast some games, played like marg Simpson some others..(all you seen was the hair but not much else)

  5. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Apr 1, 2016 at 7:40 AM

    We had a bad run of TE injuries last year. And Gruden relies on the TE position so much for his offense.

    • Chad - Apr 2, 2016 at 2:47 AM

      TE is a staple of the miss called west coast offense.
      Side note: did you guys know the real west coast offense was air coryell? Joe gibbs brought it here. A reporter quoted bill Parcells saying how about that west coast offense now? Referring to a win the giants had over the 49ers. Ever since then the name stuck and has been misused since!

  6. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Apr 1, 2016 at 7:57 AM

    I see Pot Roast went to New England for about the same money we paid him last year. They might get the lighter version of Knighton we were hoping for.

    But we need to get younger and fast on the DL, so draft, here we come!

    • Mr.moneylover - Apr 1, 2016 at 9:23 AM

      He’s not explosive off the line…redskins wasnt really trying to resign him as much as the patriots was they believe they can add more D-line depth in the draft…im changing my first pick of the draft I’m going OL from Alabama Ryan Kelly they said hes climbing up the board and he might be there when the redskins my first choice was Andrew Billings if he’s there

      • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Apr 1, 2016 at 10:31 AM

        I agree with the mockers that Ryan Kelly is the best center the draft. And Cody Whitehair is the best guard.

        But I’m not sold on the idea that either should be a 1st round pick. I think it’s just a lousy draft for top end talent at center and guard.

      • hail74 - Apr 1, 2016 at 12:43 PM

        I’ve also heard the talk that Kelly could be this years Travis Frederick, a C that seems to have a second round grade that will be drafted in the first. I’d be fine taking him as all the DL’s seem to be the same, good against run, iffy against the pass.

        • captblood3000 - Apr 2, 2016 at 8:40 AM

          Jerry Jones made Travis Fredericks a first round pick. Enough said.

      • Mr.moneylover - Apr 1, 2016 at 2:29 PM

        Why not take the wind out of the second round we at the near bottom of the first round…picking Ryan Kelly and you either plug him in at center or next to Trent Williams will upgrade the O-line completely some experts say if we do that our O-line will be elite soon rather then later

  7. Mr.moneylover - Apr 1, 2016 at 9:17 AM

    Jay gruden did say he would like to see Jordan reed and Vernon Davis on the field at the same time…scot m. Wouldn’t have sign him if he didnt think Vernon Davis can play…any player would fall off their game if they head coach get fired for no reason then end up getting traded late in the season and the coach told him he wouldn’t a big factor in they offense last year because it was late in the season…I think Vernon Davis just looking for a fair chance to play with no BS around the team…we can actually say A.Boldin fail off to because he ain’t have a good year either…Collin kapernick messed up the locker room by dating a ex player wife of Aldon smith…if you don’t got the trust or the bond then you will lose a lot witch the 49ers did nobody liked Collins kapernick that’s why he wanted out with the 49ers plus they fired the one person who he trusted

    • Mr.moneylover - Apr 1, 2016 at 2:11 PM

      I think ppl will end up loving the move…jay gruden can get more creative with his playbook this season… The more options you have the better… The WR or TE groups are not very deep in this year draft…we have our starters but we don’t have good backup options and that’s why Vernon Davis got signed

  8. crazyallives - Apr 1, 2016 at 12:47 PM

    I read the article and the comments and I still don’t know why Scot signed Davis. I’ve always rooted for Davis due to his local ties, but he has looked like a shell of himself over both of the last two seasons. Who would he bump off the roster? J-Reed and Niles Paul are better options as pass catchers and Paulson is a better blocker. Would we carry 4 TEs? I don’t think so but I guess it’s possible. Still seems to be a strange signing to me.

    • bangkokben - Apr 1, 2016 at 1:09 PM

      Definitely carrying four TEs. Two reasons. Injuries and doing away with the fullback.

    • Mr.moneylover - Apr 1, 2016 at 2:20 PM

      He just add solid depth and if he show he still got it he will be playing on the other side of Jordan reed…Niles Paul gotta get his weight back up we have Logan Paulsen who they don’t know if he will come back better or worst and Derrek Carrier tore his ACL late in the season he won’t be back until probably mid-season or late in the season then they have a guy with a lot of potential TE Marcel Jensen but they still don’t know what he can do because how little time he practice with the team

    • Trey Gregory - Apr 1, 2016 at 4:19 PM

      Agree with Bang. We got rid of Young to carry 4 TEs. That’s what a lot of teams do.

      I understand your concern though. Those 4 TEs could be Reed, Paul, Paulson, and Carrier. But I think this was a great move. Davis is not his former self, but he doesn’t have to be. He’s a decent blocker. So we use him in 2 TE sets. He mostly run blocks. When we do send a TE out as a receiver, it’s usually Reed. But the Davis threat is always there. Once or twice a game he can sneak out and catch a first down or a TD when people are more focused on Reed, Paul, Garcon, Crowder, or DJax. He’s lost a step for sure, and probably doesn’t have the endurance to be a #1 TE. But I don’t see any reason why he can’t catch a ball or two a game and still improve our blocking. I think he will now be the tallest receiver on our team: redzone threat. Plus he should have more pep in his step if he’s not being used too much.

      Then there’s always the leadership and depth aspect. I love this move.

    • Chad - Apr 2, 2016 at 2:55 AM

      We didn’t really get him for how he use to catch, more so then for dept and a blocking TE. He was a complete TE. if he shows he can still catch it’s a bonus.
      I think it’s going to be reed, paul, davis, carrier. Other 2 youngster back on PS.
      I also been saying this all offseason, we need 90 players for preseason, so we will bring in players just for that purpose, for practice squad consideration, vets for depth (cut if they don’t look good)
      Like I also say, dont complain about a certain player until week 1 and they are still here,they just may be preseason roster spots. ( not saying you were complaining my friend ;)

  9. pyroman99 - Apr 1, 2016 at 1:15 PM

    Davis fits one of the Scot M. criteria for FAs – a guy he’s familiar with from Scot’s previous teams as GM. Not unusual – coaches always bring in “their” guys. At some point, though, that has to end, as “their guys” age out of the NFL.

    I don’t want to sound too a too negative note, but Scot’s draft last year was better than his FA off-season signings. I hope Davis contributes, but I’m not getting excited. Keeping my fingers crossed for the draft.

  10. James McFullan - Apr 1, 2016 at 2:37 PM

    My mock draft no trades
    21: Vernon Hargreaves III CB
    53: Vernon Butler DT
    84: Nick Martin C
    120: Kenny Lawler WR
    158: Keith Marshall RB
    187: Jake Coker QB
    232: Kenyan Drake RB
    242: Luke Rhodes ILB

  11. goback2rfk - Apr 1, 2016 at 11:05 PM

    Terrible signing. I’m not afraid to question Scott like some of you people on here. And get real, his FA signings last year were crap. Davis is old and has not produced at a high level in several seasons. I am not expecting much from him although I guess he can fill in if and when Reid gets hurt again.

  12. skinsgame - Apr 2, 2016 at 12:35 AM

    Davis has to beat out Paulson or Carrier still. They currently have 7 or 8 TE’s and they’ll only carry 4. Archives

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