Redskins General Manager Scot McCloughan drafted wide receiver Josh Doctson in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Many viewed the move as a chance to get bigger and younger on the outside, while preparing the team for the eventual departure of Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, who are both set to become free agents in March. The former had an outstanding season at age 30, going over 1000 yards for just the second time in his career, while reeling in 79 receptions and three scores. He started all 16 games, and provided Cousins with the ultimate security blanket in the passing game, proving to be a great and reliable possession receiver. The latter also went over 1000 yards on the season, but had 23 fewer receptions, and proved he was no where near as durable as the aforementioned Garcon.
The question now becomes which, if either, should the Redskins re-sign this offseason.
First, let's take a look at who the Redskins return at wide receiver.
Josh Doctson: Doctson had a disappointing rookie season which saw him play in just two games, catching a pass in each one. He battled an Achilles injury all season, and was finally placed on injured reserve in late October. The 6'2" 206 pound receiver was lauded for his freakish athletic ability, which includes a 41" vertical leap, 4.5 40 yard dash, and nearly an 11' broad jump. His skill set has many comparing him to Bengals All-pro A.J. Green. If the Achillies injury is healed properly, the Redskins expect him to be a major contributor in year two.
Jamison Crowder: The diminutive slot receiver set a Redskins rookie receiving record in 2015 when he caught 59 passes from Kirk Cousins. He added 604 receiving yards and two touchdowns. In his second season he bested each of those marks, catching 67 passes for 847 yards and 7 touchdowns. Crowder creates tremendous separation from the slot, and is excellent in the open field. He also established himself as one of the league's best punt returnes in 2016.
Maurice Harris: Harris was a 2016 undrafted rookie from Cal who made the practice squad to start the season. After Doctson was placed on injured reserve, Harris was promoted to the active roster and went on to be a contributor as the season progressed. The 6'3" 200 pounder played in 10 games as a rookie, recording 6 catches for 66 yards. He showed good blocking ability and also played some special teams.
Ryan Grant: Grant was incredibly inconsistent in 2016, dropping some catchable passes, and looking like he was out of sync with the offense for the majority of the season. He was passed on the depth chart by Harris later in the year, and should have a fight on his hands to maintain a roster spot in 2017.
Reggie Diggs - 6'4" 215(2nd season)
Kendal Thompson - 6'2" 198(2nd season)
Matt Hazel - 6'1" 204(3rd season)
DeSean Jackson is still a deep threat, but that is about all he is. He can be dangerous on crossing routes where he can use his speed in open space, but he does not like to go over the middle and make contested catches in traffic. His size makes him more susceptible to injury, and some have questioned his work ethic and off-season commitment to the team. He will certainly generate some buzz on the open market this offseason, and I'm sure some receiver-needy team will throw some cash his way to lure him into their market. I think he has played his last game in a Redskins uniform.
As for Garcon, the situation is not so cut and dry. He proved to his doubters (I was one of them) that he can still play at a high level, and his relationship with Kirk Cousins, if Cousins is given a long-term contract this offseason, may weigh heavily into the decision to re-sign him. The issues with him are guaranteed money and age.
Over the past two seasons, Garcon was paid like one of the top receivers in the game, but his stats showed him to be a reliable number two at best. In 2014 and 2015, he averaged 70 catches and just over 750 yards a season, while finding the endzone 9 times. Although he caught just three touchdowns in 2016, he proved his worth well beyond finding the end zone. He showed excellent hands in traffic, often securing a contested catch to continue a drive. He showed surprising bust with the ball after the catch, sacrificing his body to gain tough yards. He also was an excellent blocker in the open field.
Aside from these attributes, Garcon is the consummate professional and an unquestioned team leader both on and off the field. With a young receiving corps, it is very important to have a good veteran presence to help mold these young players into productive men. Garcon can do just that with Doctson, Harris, Diggs, Thompson and Hazel.
Should the Redskins bring him back, and at what cost?
I don't think Garcon should get anywhere near the 8.5 million/year average he received over his last 5 seasons, but I would have no problem with him returning on a cap-friendly 2-3 year deal at somewhere around 5-6 million per season with some built-in in encentives and escalators. The question is, can Garcon maximize his value more on the open market, and is he willing to give the Redskins a "hometown discount"?
Do you think the Redskins should re-sign Garcon before free agency hits? Tell us how you feel, and why, in the comments section.