Among the free agent calls the Redskins will have to make in the coming weeks and months is whether or not DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon are among those that will return.
The Washington Redskins are at a crossroads with their two star wide receivers – veterans DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon – who will soon become unrestricted free agents; open to any team to sign should they hit the open market.
Do they stay or go? Will one or both be back? Will they look in a completely different direction and have neither return?
The offense this season, particularly the passing game, was the strength of the Redskins this season as Washington averaged more than 400 yards of offense per game for the first time in franchise history. Quarterback Kirk Cousins nearly hit 5,000 passing yards and the pair of Robert Kelley and Chris Thompson provided the Redskins a strong ground presence at times.
In the regular season finale, though, it was the team's starting wide receivers that shone brightest, as both Jackson and Garçon were able to hit the 1,000-yard mark.
It was the first time the Redskins had a pair of 1,000-yard receivers in the same season since 1999 when Albert Connell and Michael Westbrook achieved the feat.
Additionally, it was the second time both receivers tallied at least 1,000 yards as a member of the Redskins.
Their ability to get more than 1,000 yards – only 23 wide receivers hit the mark this season – showcased the passing game's ability to move the ball with ease. But now the Redskins have to decide whether one or both will be back in 2017 and beyond.
"I definitely want to play here, but its football," Garçon said. "In January…it's different from January to March. It's football, it's not the Xs and Os, it's the business side of it, which I have no control over.
"I've been around a long time and I've been around a lot of talk. Like I said, January to March is a lot of different conversations, and things happen and stuff happens around the league that you can't control. You just have to at the end of the day give 100 percent effort on the field and teams go back and look at the plays and scout our performance all year and that's all I can control – my effort when I play and when I have the ball."
Jackson similarly spoke about blocking out what outsiders say about his future. Yes, his three-year contract signed back in April 2014 is set to expire soon, but which teams pursue him and for how much remains to be seen.
"Once free agency comes, we'll see how it plays out," Jackson said. "It's the first time in my career that I'm going to be able to hit the free agent market so I'm definitely intrigued about seeing what's going to happen. Test the market and see what's going on. Who knows what happens. Hopefully I'm still here, but you never know how it plays out. I don't really get too caught up in that stuff."
Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said it's the job of the front office and the coaching staff together to determine which free agents they'll want back in the fold, but Washington wants players that can pair leadership ability with talents.
Jackson, of course, is the more explosive player, but Garçon has been the Redskins' steady presence at the wide receiver position since 2012. How the interact with teammates both young and old, how they prepare each week for upcoming games and practices and how they approach tough moments will all be evaluated.
"Both of those areas are very important to me, almost more so as a leadership standpoint," Gruden said. "A lot of these guys have talent, but we have got to make sure we keep the great leaders in this building."