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Need to Know: Why did the Redskins wait to release Roberts?

May 18, 2016, 4:58 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, May 18, six days before the Washington Redskins start OTAs.


—The Redskins last played a game 129 days ago. It will be 117 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: OTAs start 76; Redskins training camp starts 71; Preseason opener @ Falcons 85

The big story—Roberts released

Redskins fans don’t agree on much. But they all agreed that they wanted Andre Roberts to be gone. And on Tuesday they all got their one, unifying wish.

Why did the Redskins wait to release him when it was obvious that he wasn’t in the team’s plans for quite some time? According to Adam Caplan of ESPN the Redskins were trying to trade him. Even though the asking price likely was quite low—something like a swap of sixth- and seventh-round picks possibly would have done it—there were no takers. With his contract calling for him to make $4 million in each of the next two years, that’s not surprising. Often teams might be interested in dealing for a player but will have no interest in trading for his contract.

It was a similar situation to what we saw with Robert Griffin III over the month of February. It seemed inevitable that he was going to be released but the Redskins held on to him in hopes that a team would call and want to make a deal for Griffin and his $16 million contract. They knew the odds were long but it didn’t cost them anything to hang on to Griffin just in case one of 31 GM’s out there lost his mind.

His departure doesn’t rattle the depth chart at all. Jamison Crowder’s play at slot receiver sent Roberts to the sideline long before a knee injury did. After they drafted Josh Doctson they had him and six returning receivers on the roster. The team usually carries six receivers on the 53-man roster and Roberts was the odd man out.

So why did the Redskins sign Roberts to being with? In 2013 they had Pierre Garçon coming off of a season where he caught a team-record 113 passes. That was good and bad. Good because it meant that Garçon was a reliable target but bad because it indicated a lack of alternatives. The 35-year-old Santana Moss was second in receptions among wide receivers with 45. Josh Morgan started seven games and caught 30 passes, Leonard Hankerson started seven and caught just 20 passes. They decided they needed a solid No. 2 receiver.

The Redskins didn’t have a first-round draft pick due to the Griffin trade so they went to free agency in their first and only year with Bruce Allen in charge of personnel. Before free agency actually opened, they agreed to a deal with Roberts, who was coming off of a down season in Arizona. The contract, which was for $16 million over four years with $8 million guaranteed, looked like one that was agreed to without much negotiation.

We’ll never really know if Roberts would have lived up to the contract because less than a month after he signed the Eagles released DeSean Jackson and the Redskins moved swiftly to bring him to Washington.

That deprived Roberts of his chance to be the No. 2 receiver. But he did get to play in the slot and that got him 721 snaps. He turned that opportunity into a paltry 36 pass receptions.

The Redskins may have moved on from him a year ago but his $2.75 million salary was guaranteed and that plus the $3 million proration left on his signing bonus made the dead cap hit prohibitive.

Update: Per the NFL transaction report the Redskins did not designate Roberts’ termination as a post-June 1 move. That means that the Redskins save $3 million off of the cap after accounting for $2 million in dead cap. They will not be charged any thing for Roberts’ contract in 2017.

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  1. rlundy1123 - May 18, 2016 at 5:17 AM

    Well, I’m glad they didn’t designate him as post-June 1. No need to have unnecessary dead cap money hanging around next year, even if it is “only” 1 million. It’s good to be done.

    • bangkokben - May 18, 2016 at 8:41 AM

      Dead money doesn’t have the same effect as it use to now that teams have the ability to rollover unused cap space onto next year’s cap. The $1 million saved this year — if not used — would rollover to next year increasing the Redskins cap space and thus negating the $1 million in dead money.

  2. colorofmyskinz - May 18, 2016 at 5:47 AM

    Nice beta on the trade attempt! Thanks fir the insight.

    Why did we press to get Roberts? Let’s not forget that this is when Snyder was in the tank for RGIII and was letting RGIII play GM for players he wanted.

    Honestly, Scot has saved this team from what was a complete tailspin disaster and has turned it into a culture of winning in just a couple of years. What a difference he has made!


  3. redskins12thman - May 18, 2016 at 6:08 AM

    Thanks for explaining this. I was most interested in the information you provided at the end (i.e., the Update).

  4. troylok - May 18, 2016 at 6:18 AM

    I’d say the Redskins have the best quality group of receivers and best depth they’ve had for a very long time. They took a gamble on Roberts and they clearly negotiated a bad contract to have that much guaranteed money for a receiver other than a starter.

  5. wally tarzan - May 18, 2016 at 6:48 AM

    Good job Redskins personal.

  6. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - May 18, 2016 at 7:13 AM

    I remember the Roberts contract at the time.

    It didn’t seem bad, seemed like a decent shot at WR2 who was available at reasonable price thanks to an off year. Just didn’t work out.

    • ET - May 18, 2016 at 12:08 PM

      Yeah, if Roberts had been able to scrape together some better performances (as a true #2 or as a slot receiver) then the contract wouldn’t look so bad. But it looks terrible from our current vantage point.

  7. Dominique - May 18, 2016 at 7:43 AM

    Roberts isn’t a slot receiver. He may be built like one but time and time again it failed.

  8. mtskins - May 18, 2016 at 8:52 AM

    Not that Roberts was a great return man (he did manage that long one vs the Panthers last year) but it is a reminder that the team could use some more options there. Thought Crowder did great as a slot WR but he didn’t have the impact on special teams I thought he might. Watched the video saying he was already working on it this off season. Ross has been solid on kick returns and we are possibly getting Niles Paul back but it seems like we are lacking a truly dangerous return man. Still learning about Keith Marshall and I know he has his fans on here. Does anybody know if he has much experience if this area?

    • bangkokben - May 18, 2016 at 9:08 AM

      Good point about kick returns. With the rule change (touchbacks now at the 25), Ross might have more value than he actually did last year. Teams will likely try to kick off high and short to pin teams within the 25. This could give more opportunity to the return game.

      • lezziemcdykerson - May 18, 2016 at 7:11 PM

        Yeah I like Ross better at KR/PR think maybe it’ll help him in the receiving game as well. How much of a “lock” is Ryan Grant to make the team? I’m not high on him at all especially after that Falcons game smh. I think Rich put up a gif of him catching a TD from Kirk and he friggin slipped while catching that too! He can’t keep his feet and Niles can’t catch I need to see major improvement from them in the preseason or I’m texting Scot.

  9. waqgman1 - May 18, 2016 at 9:46 AM

    According to another source, he also wasn’t eligible to be released any earlier in the offseason because of the meniscus injury to his knee.

    • bangkokben - May 18, 2016 at 10:29 AM

      What source? If so, why then was Roberts not allowed but Culliver was cut with two ligaments torn in his knee?

      • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - May 18, 2016 at 11:16 AM

        I remember that confusion. And I’m still confused about what the rule (if any) is.

        My impression: A player’s release is only affected by his injury if there are clauses in his contract related to injury.

  10. kenlinkins - May 18, 2016 at 11:23 AM

    It seemed to me that Roberts never adjusted to the Redskins signing DJax. I think I remember seeing him in an interview asking “why” the Redskins signed DJax (that is something you can think but never say in a interview). With DJax hurt for so many games in 2015, Roberts should have been able to make a move but didn’t. It was like he give up and was just waiting for 2016 and a fresh start away from the Redskins. We will see if Roberts has the fire in his belly to prove the Redskins wrong or if he is happy with the one nice pay day.

    • ET - May 18, 2016 at 12:34 PM

      Hard for Roberts to make a move when the QB and coaches were already not inclined to trust him as a viable target—and rightfully so. He had enough targets last season to carve out his niche, but Roberts had played himself into a situation that was untenable.

  11. dabulr7 - May 18, 2016 at 12:31 PM

    I knew it was coming…now waiting to see Travis Greene sign with the skins. I think he’s better than Chris Thompson and would be a good change of pace back…#makeithappen

    • John - May 18, 2016 at 1:56 PM

      Greene, from what I’ve seen lacks speed. Looking at the MD game tape as well as some of his other YouTube clips is all 2-3 yards and a cloud of dust. Thompson is a decent runner and excellent receiving option, just not the biggest kid. Marshall has speed but lacks shake and bake. Come on Frisco release Reggie Bush!

      • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - May 18, 2016 at 4:47 PM

        Chris Thompson is good on 3rd down RB plays AND blitz pickup. Just what you want.

        But…he keeps getting banged up. That’s a problem.

  12. John - May 18, 2016 at 12:39 PM

    Roberts had opportunities but never took advantage of them. regarding Crowder and punt returns he just nerds to get used to returning in the NFL (difference of speed, etc.,). Marshall maybe, on kickoff, if he makes the roster. Ross, if he makes the roster. Paul? He bulked up to play the blocking TE and may have trouble getting playing time with Vernon Davis in town.

    • lezziemcdykerson - May 18, 2016 at 7:15 PM

      Especially since Davis can catch and apparently Paul lost that ability when he bulked up.

  13. Skulb - May 18, 2016 at 11:25 PM

    Agreed with everything. Also, thanks for all your work covering the Skins Rich. I imagine it’s mostly fun, but still.

  14. 21indiscriminatethoughts - May 19, 2016 at 4:01 AM

    He dropped “a lot” of would-be clutch passes on 3rd down. Might of been only a handful, but they were all drive killers, and that’s just too much. He just flopped in the moment. Probably why he didn’t more looks. Maybe he couldn’t get a rhythm going cause he was used so sporadically, but such is the case for most guys in the league. When you get your chance you better come through.

    Off the field, hell of a guy especially with his philanthropic work. Wish him nothing but the best in his future, just didn’t work out here! Archives

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