With the NFL Draft completed, Redskins.com is breaking down the team's roster as it prepares for the 2020 campaign. Here are the positions that have been covered so far:
The final position group is tight ends. Following the release of Jordan Reed and the retirement of Vernon Davis, the Redskins were left three tight ends on the roster: Hale Hentges, Jeremy Sprinkle and Caleb Wilson.
- Vernon Davis
- Jordan Reed
- Marcus Baugh
- Thaddeus Moss
- Logan Thomas
- Richard Rodgers
The consensus among Redskins fans was that they would go after one of the top tight ends in free agency. With the losses of Reed and Davis, the trio of tight ends on the roster combined for 34 catches, 344 yards and two touchdowns in 2019. And while they signed Baugh at the beginning of March, the second-year pro has yet to make an NFL reception.
Washington pursued Pro Bowler Austin Hooper, according to head coach Ron Rivera, but it was not prepared to make him the league's highest-paid tight end like the Cleveland Browns did. Other tight ends, such as Eric Ebron (Pittsburgh Steelers), Jimmy Graham (Chicago Bears) and Tyler Eifert (Jacksonville Jaguars), also signed elsewhere.
Instead, the Redskins bolstered their tight end depth by bringing in Thomas and Rodgers.
"Pete Hoener, our tight end coach, felt very strongly about [Thomas'] abilities, mostly because he thought he was a very smart and savvy football player, he's a tremendous athlete and he's just learning and getting the position right now," Rivera said of Thomas in April.
The 6-foot-6, 250-pound Thomas transitioned from quarterback to tight end in 2016 and is coming off his best NFL season with the Detroit Lions. In 16 games, he made 16 catches for 173 yards and a touchdown.
Rivera even loosely compared Thomas to three-time Pro Bowler Greg Olsen, who played under Rivera in Carolina from 2011-19.
"You love to have a guy with Greg Olsen-type of ability, who is a primary ball-catcher, a guy that goes out and finds the hole, finds the crease, can separate when the ball is in the air at the right time, and that's one of the things that Greg Olsen did very, very well for us," Rivera said. "Logan Thomas is a guy that we see some glimpses of that type of athletic ability."
Rodgers, the son of Redskins' assistant defensive backs coach Richard Rodgers, was at his best during his time with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, when he averaged 40 receptions for 291.5 yards and 3.2 touchdowns from 2014-17. According to Rivera, Aaron Rodgers always thought highly of his former tight end.
"I got to know Aaron a little bit," Rivera said, "and one thing Aaron always thought that this was the kind of guy who was a safety valve, a go-to guy who just knew how to get himself open and in position."
Even after adding Thomas and Rodgers, many expected the Redskins to pick another tight end in the middle rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft. But with their eight selections, the team decided to address other positions. It was not until shortly after the three-day event that the Redskins came to terms with Moss, the son of Pro Fooball Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss.
"He has really nice hands and ball skills, and he's a tough kid that competes in the run game," vice president of player personnel Kyle Smith said of Moss, who made 47 catches for 570 yards and five touchdowns at LSU in 2019. "Playing at LSU, big-time football, big-time season. It was really no brainer to sign him as a [priority free agent]."
WHAT TO WATCH
With depth comes competition, and the Redskins have plenty of it.
Based on the widespread praise of Thomas -- "we're excited about him and his upsides," Smith said recently -- he'll likely be given plenty of opportunities to produce within the offense. Sprinkle should also earn playing time after starting 13 games in 2019. Rodgers, 28, will provide veteran leadership in the tight ends room, while Moss could make an immediate impact because of his prowess as a run-blocker.
"This offense is a multi-personnel offense, we're not going to just sit there in eleven personnel," Rivera said. "We're going to go back and forth. We're going to go with one tight end, two tight ends, three tight ends type of offense, so having multiple tight ends on your roster is going to be very beneficial to you. These guys we all believe are going to fit."