A couple of things tweaked my attention over the past week or two. First was that I saw a couple of tight ends who had been in Washington’s training camp recently make plays for other teams. Then I saw Zach Pascal make some big catches in two different games a week or two apart. Pascal is a former Old Dominion player who had been in camp with Jay Gruden’s Redskins, and it made me wonder how many other former Washington players who had been waived or released were on rosters around the league.
I thought it might be interesting to try to find out.
Unfortunately, I don’t have access to a really cool database where I can just plug in a couple of variables and get the answer I want, nor do I know anyone who can do it for me. So I used ‘the old fashioned way’ of research...I opened the depth chart for each team on OurLads.com and visually scanned each one looking for names I recognized.
Not only is it possible that I missed some players, but it’s almost a certainty. Scanning over 1,500 names at 11 pm in search of ex-Football Team players has a high error probability attached.
Still, I found sixteen players under contract in the NFL (plus one guy on a practice squad that seemed worth mentioning). Each one of these guys was at some point in the past under contract to the Washington franchise, but then released.
Let me be clear; I’m not talking about guys like Derek Carrier or Trent Williams who were traded. Nor am I looking for the Jamison Crowders or Preston Smiths, who were allowed to leave in free agency when their contracts with Washington came to an end.
I’m only looking for guys who were cut because the front office didn’t want them anymore.
I’ve given a brief overview of 17 players below, but, as mentioned above, I’ve likely overlooked some former WFT players. If you think of someone I’ve missed, feel free to use the comments section to remind us all about that player and give a short update on where he is and how he’s doing in his NFL career.
RB Adrian Peterson, Lions
I fully expected Adrian Peterson to be the starting running back for the Football Team on opening day against the Eagles, and was shocked when he was released. To be clear, I figured the odds were at least 50/50 that Peterson would retire in burgundy & gold.
Rivera and his team decided to go another way, but they were classy enough to release AD a day earlier than the rest of the cuts were made so he could have “his day” in the spotlight to recognize his contributions to the organization during his two season here.
He signed with the Lions, where he is the lead back in a running back group that includes D’andre Swift and Kerryon Johnson. Peterson has 85 carries, which is close to 20 more than the other two backs combined. He has 321 yards in 7 games, averaging 3.8 yards per carry and has added 55 yards through the air. He has 2 touchdowns, both rushing.
At his current pace, AD is on track for 733 rushing yards over 16 games, which is on the low end of the range that I would have expected.
CB Josh Norman, Bills
Speaking of the Lions, it was against Detroit last season that Bill Callahan decided to put Josh Norman in mothballs, and then Ron Rivera finally cut the cord on Valentines day this year. It was a long time coming.
Norman was picked up pretty quickly by the Bills, where he had a relationship with head coach Sean McDermott that dates back to his days in Carolina.
Norman began the season on injured reserve, but was activated for the Week 4 matchup against the Raiders. He has played about 70 snaps per game in the three games he has appeared in, so he’s been on the field a lot.
He’s credited with no interceptions, 2 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries, and 18 tackles, including 2 tackles for loss.
PFF has given him grades of 74.3, 37.7, and 78.9 in his three games, Here’s a little snippet from his PFF Weekly Grades report:
WR Andre Roberts, Bills
One of Norman’s teammates is ex-Redskin, Andre Roberts, who is a wide receiver, but may be best-known as a return man on special teams.
Roberts is typically getting fewer than 10 snaps per game on offense (though he had 24 offensive snaps in Week 5 versus the Titans). Meanwhile, he has 42 kick returns and 25 punt returns in 8 games for Buffalo this season.
As a special teams player, here’s a look at how PFF has graded him as a punt & kick returner in 2020:
I’ll be honest, I turned on the New England-Buffalo game this week and was shocked when I saw that Roberts was returning kick offs and punts. I had assumed he was retired (I obviously don’t watch a lot of Bills games).
He has, in fact, bounced around a lot since being released by Washington in May 2016. Here’s his career summary since then:
- 2016 Detroit
- 2017 Atlanta
- 2018 NY Jets
- 2019-20 Buffalo
He hasn’t played over 80 offensive snaps since 2016, basically becoming a specialist returner. All in all, Roberts has managed to put together a decent NFL career.
Roberts will break 10,000 combined receiving, rushing, punt return and kick return yards sometime in the next two or three weeks. That’s pretty impressive.
WR Josh Doctson, Jets
After being drafted 22nd overall in the 2016 draft, Doctson was released by Washington at the end of training camp last year. He signed on with the Vikings to reunite with Kirk Cousins. He was active for one game and did not register a statistic.
He joined the NY Jets this off-season, and then made what was probably the smart move by opting out of the season and getting his “stipend” under the negotiated COVID-19 agreement between the owners and the players union.
His most lasting legacy as an NFL player is likely to be the broken hand that Scot McCloughan suffered from punching a wall after making the decision to draft one of the biggest busts in franchise history.
In 3 years with Washington, Doctson played in 33 games, and caught 81 balls for 1,100 yards and 8 touchdowns. He will go into the 2021 season having not added to that total.
QB Robert Griffin III, Ravens
Griffin was released by the Redskins in March of 2016. He spent the 2016 season in Cleveland, beginning the season as the team’s starting quarterback, He was injured in the opening game, and spent most of the season on IR, returning in Week 14. Griffin played in five games, all starts, completing 87-of-147 passes for 886 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. He also rushed for 190 yards and two touchdowns.
On March 10, 2017, Griffin was released by the Browns
After being out of football for the entire 2017 season, RG3 was signed by the Ravens in 2018 because they wanted a mobile veteran backup for Lamar Jackson. Griffin has had limited time on the field in his three seasons there, and has attempted just 46 passes in 13 appearances:
RB Samaje Perine, Bengals
Honestly, I was shocked when I saw Perine’s name on a roster, albeit buried at the bottom of the Bengals depth chart. I thought he’d either retired or was playing in Canada.
Perine spent time on the practice squads of both the Bengals and Dolphins in 2019 after being waived by Washington. He’s now back with the Bengals, behind Joe Mixon and Gio Bernard. He has 12 carries for 35 yards and a touchdown this season.
S Sean Davis, Steelers
Sean Davis was one of the more significant free agent signings of the 2020 off-season, getting $2m guaranteed from Washington.
He was cut at the end of training camp, with Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio apparently more impressed with Troy Apke than they were with Sean Davis.
Davis went back to the Steelers, who had drafted him in the second round of the 2016 draft. He is a backup in Pittburgh, but he’s behind Terrell Edmunds and Minkah Fitzpatrick. So far in 2020, he’s seen the field on only 2 defensive snaps, otherwise playing exclusively on special teams.
C Austin Reiter, Chiefs
Drafted by Washington in the seventh round of the 2015 draft, Reiter was seen as a project player with a lot of upside. He spent his rookie year on the practice squad, and returned there at the end of training camp in 2016.
A week later he was signed by the Cleveland Browns to their active roster. In his first start he tore his ACL and was lost for the season. He went on IR and I assumed at the time that it would likely spell the end of his NFL career.
It did not.
After missing the entire 2017 season, Reiter was claimed off of waivers by the KC Chiefs at the start of the ‘18 season. He has had 25 career starts with the Chiefs.
Oh, and he got a super bowl ring.
WR Robert Davis, Raiders (Practice Squad, inj)
Davis probably doesn’t actually belong on this list as he is not on an active roster, but on a practice squad, and he is injured to boot, but he has traditionally had a lot of fans here on Hogs Haven, so when I spotted his name, I thought I’d include him.
Davis was drafted by Washington in the 6th round of the 2017 draft, and a lot of people loved his measurables — 6’3”, 210 pounds, running a 4.44 40 time.
He spent most of his rookie season on the practice squad, but — a bit like Austin Reiter — was seen as a good developmental prospect and part of the team’s future.
In 2018, he suffered a broken tibia and a torn LCL during training camp that kept him out the entire season.
Last year, I expected him to spend the year on PUP/IR. That didn’t happen. He spent time on both the practice squad and regular roster, but never really got any traction. By October he was with the Eagles, first on the practice squad and later on the regular roster, but again suffered injury, couldn’t get traction with the team, and was waived.
He signed with the Raiders practice squad in late September this year. Last week the Raiders placed him on the practice squad injured list.
The 25-year-old dealt with a lower body injury in training camp before joining Las Vegas’ practice squad in late September, though it’s unclear if the current injury is related to the previous one. Davis appeared in six games between Philadelphia and Washington last year, catching two passes for 17 yards.
TE Donald Parham, Chargers
If you were reading Hogs Haven during the preseason last year, you’ll probably know Donald Parham’s name.
From June 2019
At 6’8” and 240 pounds, Parham isn’t your everyday NFL tight end
Here’s what I wrote about Parham in his 2019 UDFA profile:
Without a doubt, the first thing that jumps out at you about Donald Parham is his size. At 6’8” and 240 pounds, his measurables seem more suited to a college basketball forward than an NFL tight end.
Having played at Stetson, as a senior in 2018, Parham was a consensus All-American who earned first team recognition from the American Football Coaches Association, the Associated Press, the Walter Camp Football Foundation, STATS FCS, Phil Steele Publications, Athlon Sports and HERO Sports in addition to being named to the FCA Athletics Directors Association All-Star team, per gohatters.com. He finished the season as the top receiving tight end in all of college football, leading Division I (FBS and FCS) in both receptions per game (9.4) and receiving yards per game (146.6)
The Daytona Beach News-Journal wrote a profile article on Parham during the lead up to the Senior Bowl.
“Stetson tight end Donald Parham is a gazelle,” tweeted Brad Kelly, a scout for the NFL Draft Network.
“They had to turn the ceiling fan off before he stood up,” Dane Brugler, a Draft analyst for The Athletic, jokingly (maybe) tweeted.
“He has a 36-inch VJ (vertical jump),” said 18-year NFL scout Jim Nagy, who added that Parham’s wingspan measured in at 84 inches earlier this week. “Just throw it up to him!”
Unfortunately, Parham didn’t shine in preseason for the Redskins last year. He actually looked pretty bad. He was released at the end of training camp in a move that surprised no one. The surprise was that he didn’t end up on the practice squad.
Where he did end up was in the XFL, playing for the Dallas Renegades. In his second game versus the Los Angeles Wildcats, Parham had five catches for 76 yards and a touchdown. Of course, his contract terminated when the league suspended operations on April 10, 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Parham landed on his feet, signing with the Los Angeles Chargers. So far this season he has just two targets, but he caught them both for 41 total yards...and two touchdowns.
K Graham Gano, Giants
Gano was cut by the Redskins prior to the start of the 2012 season in favor of Billy Cundiff.
Here’s what Gano has done since then:
Cundiff appeared in five games for Washington, going 7-12 before being replaced by Kai Forbath.
TE Richard Rodgers, Eagles
Rodgers was signed to a vet minimum contract this past off-season and competed for a spot on the Washington roster that was very thin at tight end. He was released at the end of training camp, and returned to the Eagles, with whom he had spent the ‘18 and ‘19 seasons.
He has appeared in 5 games for the Eagles this season, catching 15 balls on 18 targets for 184 yards (12.3 yards per reception). His best game so far this season came in Week 7 against the Giants when he pulled in 6 passes for 85 yards.
Jeremy Sprinkle has one catch for 6 yards for the Washington Football Team in 2020.
QB Nate Sudfeld, Eagles
Another late-round draft pick (6th round, 2016) that Washington tried to stash on the practice squad — the Eagles liked him so much that at the start of the 2017 season they paid him a premium salary to entice him away from the Redskins.
While Sudfeld hasn’t seen much playing time (he has just 25 career attempts), he did get a super bowl ring.
TE JP Holtz, Bears
Undrafted out of Pittsburgh in 2016, Holtz spent two years on and off of the Browns practice squad.
He came to Redskins camp in 2018, spent most of the ‘18 season on the practice squad, but was promoted to the regular roster late in the season. In 2019, he played one regular season game, then was waived with the intention of re-signing him to the practice squad.
It didn’t happen because Chicago claimed him off of waivers.
In his season-and-a-half with the Bears, he has 7 catches on 8 targets for 91 yards. He seems to be a pretty good blocker. PFF gave him season pass blocking grades of 78.3 in 2019 and 70.5 so far this season.
He has played 374 offensive snaps for the Bears.
S DJ Swearinger, Saints
Jay Gruden and his coaches thought DJ Swearinger was talking team business public a bit too often and released him in late December of 2018. He ended up right back where he had played in 2015-16, with the Arizona Cardinals.
He stayed with them for the first 4 games of 2019, and then was cut.
He spent a month with the Raiders, then was cut again.
He ended his 2019 season with the Saints, and then re-signed with them on a one-year, $1.1m contract.
So far, he’s played 51 defensive snaps for the Saints in 2020
TE Jordan Reed, 49ers
Two words: When healthy.
When healthy, Jordan Reed was one of the best tight ends ever to play football. If he’d played 15 or 16 games per season, he might’ve put together a Hall of Fame career in Washington.
But he just wasn’t healthy enough.
Last year, Reed played one series too many in pre-season, and got knocked out of the Week 3 (preseason) game on a dirty hit by Falcons DB Keanu Neal. Reed ended up missing the entire season.
The franshise made what was probably the only reasonable decision left to them by cutting him this past off-season.
He ended up in San Francisco with his old OC, Kyle Shanahan. In three games this season, he had 11 receptions for 85 yards and two touchdowns.
He was placed on injured reserve on October 3, 2020 with a sprained MCL.
K Kai Forbath, Rams
Forbath was mentioned earlier in this article as the guy who replaced Billy Cundiff on the Redskins roster in 2012. He played three seasons with the ‘Skins and was generally accurate, hitting 89.6% of his FG but he didn’t have a strong leg. His longest field goal as a Redskin was 50 yards, and his touchback percentage hovered around 25% (for comparison, Dustin Hopkins has a career touchback percentage of 71.8%).
He was cut by Washington at the beginning of the 2015 season. Forbath finished his career with Washington as the second-most accurate kicker in team history, converting 87.0 percent of his field goal attempts (60-of-69).
He played 16 games for the Vikings in 2017, but otherwise has mostly been an injury fill-in, appearing in between 4 and 7 games per season.
His current gig with the Rams started just one game ago after LA cut their rookie 7th round draft pick, Sam Sloman, who, in his first 7 games as a pro, made just 72.7% of his field goals with a long of 42 yards, and 85.7% of his extra point attempts. Sean McVay, of course, is familiar with Forbath from their time together in Washington.
In his first game as a Ram, Forbath made one field goal of 23 yards and missed a second attempt of 40+ yards in the Rams’ 17-28 loss to the Dolphins.
WR Zach Pascal, Colts
Pascal was among the first UDFA profiles I wrote for Hogs Haven. He came to Washington out of Old Dominion. This is from an August 2017 overview of offensive free agents:
Pascal was happy to get a shot with the Redskins:
“I got to choose between all the teams I wanted to go to,” Pascal said Monday. “The best option for me was the Redskins, which is funny, because it’s right here.”
Pascal will have work to do, though: The Redskins will head into offseason workouts with 12 receivers on the roster, according to USA Today’s Redskins Wire. They drafted Georgia State receiver Robert Davis in the sixth round and signed Pascal and Louisville receiver Mike Quick as undrafted free agents.
Pascal also lined up in the slot and at running back and played on all four special teams units during his ODU career. His versatility could be what gives him his best shot at a getting a foot in the door.
The young ODU grad was waived by the Redskins at the end of the ‘17 Training Camp and picked up by the Titans, where he spent time on both the practice squad and the active roster. He was waived by the Titans in May 2018 and picked up by the Colts, where he has been ever since, and where he has been on the regular roster for every game the Colts have played since the beginning of the ‘18 season.
Last year he put up 607 yards at 14.8 ypc. He’s currently on pace to top 500 yards in 2020.