Redskins head coach Jay Gruden is anticipating Jordan Reed to return to form in 2018, but also wants to add some speed weapons to complement the Pro Bowl tight end.
Last offseason, the Washington Redskins watched both Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson leave in free agency. They were moves that were anticipated but still were still veteran loses with each providing their own strengths.
Despite their departures, the belief was that the passing game was still in good hands with Pro Bowl tight end Jordan Reed as the centerpiece.
Reed, of course, was coming off two impressive seasons for Washington. In the 2015-16 seasons, the University of Florida product collected 153 receptions for 1,638 yards and 17 touchdowns. During the 2015 season, Reed was the first Redskins tight end to lead the team in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns since Jean Fugett in 1977. Then he was named to his first Pro Bowl in 2016.
2017, however, did not go as planned for Reed. He missed the entirety of training camp with a toe injury and was never fully healthy during the regular season before being placed on Injured Reserve after just six appearances.
Although Reed said it was the most difficult year of his life in December, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden anticipates that the tight end will return to form in 2018.
"I'm going to assume he's going to be there, I really am," Gruden told reporters on Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. "That's the way we're going to plan. We always have a plan B, just in case. There's a lot of things that Jordan can do that not a lot of people can do that you're going to have in each game plan and your installation. If he's not available to us, then we have other ways we can attack a defense, but we have 10-20 plays a game at least a game that are just for Jordan to get him the rock.
"We anticipate him being fully healthy. If something does happen, knock on wood, which I don't think it will, we'll adjust like we have every year."
While a healthy Reed would give the passing game a jolt, Gruden doesn't want to put all the pressure on his shoulders.
Washington, of course, also returns 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson and Jamison Crowder, but Ryan Grant, Terrelle Pryor Sr. and Brian Quick are all scheduled to become unrestricted free agents.
Even if the Redskins are able to re-sign those veterans, Gruden would like to add a speed element to the offense that was lost when Jackson signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"If we get Ryan Grant back, I'm great there," Gruden said. "But I think probably the consensus is that probably need a little more juice, maybe a little bit more speed to take the top off from time to time. Losing DeSean last year had a little bit of an impact – not as much as people probably want to think – but maybe that. But I like all-purpose guys, I like guys who can do multiple things because at the end of the day, you're going to have to play multiple positions in this offense to have a chance.
"You're going to have to block safeties from time to time. You're not just going to be able to run deep every single play. I like all-purpose guys that can do a little bit of everything."