At 5'10" and 193 pounds, Washington Redskins veteran receiver Santana Moss is far from an imposing threat at wide receiver. The diminutive wideout, who once possessed sub 4.4 speed, now must rely on his savvy to expose defenses, rather than simply using his speed to run past them.
For the first time in his career, the newly-turned 35 year old will be fighting for a spot on his team's opening day roster, and that fight will be a major uphill battle for the 13 year veteran.
In previous years, even with a steady decline in production, it made sense for the Redskins to keep Moss around. He was a proven veteran, who was a leader both on the field, and in the locker room. Moss was viewed as a mentor for young receivers Leonard Hankerson and Aldrick Robinson. Before drafting Robert Griffin, Moss was seen as the leader of the offense, but that has changed significantly with the addition of Griffin, Garcon, Jackson, and the emergence and dominance of Trent Williams. The team now has a veteran presence at quarterback, and veteran leadership all over the offense.
Basically, Moss has become an afterthought.
Why the Redskins Should Keep Him:
Even though he was originally drafted by the New York Jets, Moss will always be viewed by fans as a Redskin. His best season came in his first year with the team(2005), when he caught 84 passes, for 1483 yards and nine touchdowns. He's started at least 12 games each year in his nine seasons in D.C., and has gone over the 1000 yard mark three times. He will always be remembered for the two touchdowns he scored against the Cowboys in a Monday night game in 2005, where Mark Brunell led the Skins to a come-from-behind victory in the last five minutes of the game to win 14-13.
Moss still has value as the teams 5th receiving option(I challenge you to find a better 5th receiving option in the game today), and he provides the team with depth they have been lacking at the position for years.
And, do not discount the fact that the man can spin a mean football on the field.
Why the Redskins Should Release Him:
Moss no longer has the speed that once made him so special. Over the last three seasons, as the number two or three option, he's averaged 42 receptions, for just over 500 yards, and close to five touchdowns, although eight of those touchdowns came in 2012(the 3rd highest total of his career). Over the last two seasons, Moss has had one of the higher drop rates amongst starting receiver, dropping just over 10% of the passes thrown his way. He was credited with seven drops last season, which tied him for fifth most among players with at least 40 receptions, and his 78 targets were the second lowest number compared to his dropped passes, surpassed only by the Rams Tavon Austin(10% drop rate). Only Austin, and Davone Bess(10.5% drop rate) had higher drop percentages among the wide receivers who caught at least 40 passes. Greg Little, who some called Mr. inconsistency, caught 41 passes in 2013, and dropped six in 99 targets, giving him a drop rate of 6.1%. Pierre Garcon, who had 113 receptions in 181 targets, dropped the same number of passes(7), as Moss, despite being targeted over 100 more times, and catching nearly three times the amount of passes.
Since acquiring DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts, and with the recent emergence of tight end Jordan Reed, Moss is now the teams 5th or 6th option. With young receivers scattered all over the roster, Moss' presence on the team could take away valuable reps from players much much more upside at this point in their careers.
With star receiver Pierre Garcon(3.9% drop rate) leading the way, and newly acquired star DeSean Jackson(2.4% drop rate) providing the fireworks, will Moss, and his inconsistency, have a place on this team? His position in the slot will be assumed by newly acquired Andre Roberts. The Redskins still have youngsters Leonard Hankerson, Aldrick Robinson and Nick Williams, to go along with rookies Ryan Grant, Cody Hoffman and Lee Doss all fighting for a roster spot. The new coaching staff has no allegiance to Moss, and they may feel since the veteran leadership is in place, and with younger players showing more upside, that Moss may be a luxury they can not justify keeping.