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 examine the top 30 questions the Redskins face as they get ready for the season.
No. 27—Which veteran(s) would qualify as a surprise if cut?
Every cutdown day around the NFL leaves us wondering, ‘Wow, [insert name here] got released?’ But after the dust settles, we realize that’s just life in the NFL, particularly for veterans with big contracts. One minute you’re a starter. The next you’re just another aging player who’s suddenly out of work. It happens each August. And it’s going to happen again. So we ask: Who might get a surprise pink slip from Jay Gruden and Co.?
El-Bashir: This is a tough one. We all know the guys who have tenuous holds on a roster spot, vets like Chris Chester, Santana Moss, etc. But one position I’ll be keeping a close eye on as cutdown day approaches is safety. Right now, veterans Brandon Meriweather and Ryan Clark are penciled in as the starters. Could that change? It seems unlikely, but … Meriweather is coming off a season in which he was credited with 16 missed tackles (byProFootballFocus.com) and was sidelined three games due to injury and suspension. He’s also one illegal headshot away from a lengthy ban. Clark, meantime, has enjoyed a solid career. But he’ll turn 35 in October, and the fact that Steelers let him walk suggests they did not believe he could help this season. But before the Redskins could think about cutting either of them, they'd need to be 100-percent sure that Phillip Thomas, Bacarri Rambo and/or Tanard Jackson could step in and provide an upgrade. And we won’t be able to answer that for another couple of months.
Tandler: The more I think about it, the more I think that Darrel Young could find himself on the wrong side of the roster bubble when the cuts are made on August 30. The offensive side of the 53-man roster is extremely crowded and it’s possible that Jay Gruden will decide that he can’t afford to keep a player at a position that he used for just 73 snaps in Cincinnati last year. For that, he can utilize Niles Paul or Logan Paulsen and perhaps incorporate a defensive lineman as a big body in short yardage situations like he did with the Bengals. Most of the talk now is that Gruden will find space for Young, who also has value as a special teams player. But there is the possibility that Bruce Allen and Gruden will have more players than he can keep and look at Young and his $1.3 million salary cap hit (the team would save about $1 million in cap space with his release) and decide to patch together the fullback position and keep another lineman or wide receiver. It seems unlikely, but that’s what a surprise cut is all about, right?