With a new head coach, some intriguing free agents and a quarterback on the comeback trail, the 2014 Redskins are loaded with storylines. Between now and the start of training camp, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir will be examining the top 30 questions the Redskins face as they get ready for the season.
How productive will Andre Roberts be in 2014?
When the Redskins signed Andre Roberts to a four-year, $16 million contract on the first day of free agency, the player and the team anticipated that he’d fill the No. 2 wide receiver position. That, of course, all changed when DeSean Jackson fell into the Redskins’ lap less than a month later. Needless to say, Roberts wasn’t thrilled about getting bumped down the depth chart before ever suiting up. The 26-year-old even suggested he might have signed elsewhere had he known. Lately, though, Roberts seems to have come around to his No. 3 status, saying he’ll do whatever is asked of him. But given the unforeseen turn of events, it’s fair to wonder how productive he’ll be in his new role.
El-Bashir: The bad news for Roberts is that, without a doubt, he’ll be overshadowed by Pierre Garçon, Jackson and possibly Jordan Reed as well. The good news is that it’s conceivable that the Redskins’ attack will rank near the top-10 in pass attempts under Jay Gruden (the Bengals were 12th last season). Which, of course, should mean more opportunity for Roberts and the other pass catchers. Roberts could also see an increased role if Garçon, Jackson and/or Reed miss any time. (And it should be noted that none of them have exactly proven to be ironmen.) But if they all remain healthy and Roberts is deployed as the third or fourth option in the passing game, he’ll still have the opportunity to make a significant impact on special teams. During OTAs and minicamp, he returned kickoffs and punts, though he hinted that he only expects to have kickoff return duty. So, looking into my crystal ball, I would say 50 receptions for about 600 yards, three touchdowns and a kickoff return average of 24-25 yards per would constitute a strong 2014 campaign for Roberts.
Tandler: You can spin the question of Roberts’ 2014 production potential two ways. Maybe, as Tarik noted, Roberts will be the third or perhaps fourth option in the passing game. If that’s the case, 50 receptions could be an overly optimistic prediction unless they’ve changed the rules and made it so you can play with more than one football at a time. Or perhaps the defenses will focus so much on Jackson, Garçon, and Reed that Roberts will have plenty of room to operate and will become a favorite target of Robert Griffin III. If that happens, Roberts could catch 70 passes, maybe 80. The truth is that it will very from game to game. Some days Roberts will have two catches for nine yards. On days when he is the better option he could end up with eight receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown or two. That probably adds up to something around 60 catches for about 700 yards.