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Five reasons why Trey Quinn may not survive the roster cut down in 2020

Can 2018’s Mr. Irrelevant remain relevant to his team in 2020?

NFL: NOV 17 Jets at Redskins Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Trey Quinn is the longest tenured Redskins wide receiver, having been on the Redskins roster for two years.

Let that sink in for a moment; selected in the 7th round of the 2018 draft, Quinn has spent more time on the Redskins roster than anyone else in the receivers room. Of course, there are other players, like Cam Sims, who joined the team in 2018, but Quinn is the only one of those players never to have been on the Redskins Practice Squad. Cody Latimer, orignially drafted in the 2nd round by the Broncos in 2014 and signed as a free agent from the Giants this off-season, is the only Redskins receiver over the age of 25 and has the most NFL experience, having spent six years in the league, but he is among the newest Redskins.

Overall, the Redskins have what is probably the youngest and least experienced wide receiver group in the NFL:

The 13 players who comprise the Washington receiving corps have an average age of about 24 years, and have combined for fewer than 3,000 receiving yards in their cumulative careers. No single receiver in the group has yet amassed 1,000 yards receiving in his career.

A year ago, Quinn and Paul Richardson were the only clear roster locks among the wide receiver group going into Training Camp. The Redskins decided cut former first-round pick Josh Doctson when he just didn’t show enough to warrant retaining him. This year, the front office cut Paul Richardson whose production never came close to matching the free-agent contract he signed with Washington.

Quinn played regularly through the first three quarters of the 2019 season until he was knocked out of the Panthers game by a brutal and illegal hit while he was defenseless as he tried to field a punt.

In many ways, Quinn appears to be on-track to make the Redskins regular season roster for the third year in a row, but I think there’s a real chance that he may get squeezed out.

There are several reasons why I don’t necessarily think Quinn will make the roster for the opening day game against the Eagles.

No. 1 - Quinn was out-produced by Steven Sims last year

In 2019, Trey Quinn began the season as the “starting” slot receiver. Here are his average offensive snap counts as the season progressed:

  • Games 1-3 = 55 snaps (average)
  • Games 4-6 = 37 snaps (average)
  • Games 7-9 = 27 snaps (average)
  • Games 10-12 = 22 snaps (average)

Quinn was injured in Game 12 and replaced by Steven Sims. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of Quinn & Sims for 2019:

Playing 116 fewer snaps, Sims essentially matched Quinn’s targets and receptions, but produced more yards and touchdowns. In addition, Quinn had his best production in the first three games of the season, while the undrafted rookie Sims hit his stride near the end of the season, with his strongest production coming in the last 5 weeks when he was the unquestioned ‘starting’ slot receiver. Sims, in fact, averaged 10.0 or more Y/Rec in three of the final four games of 2019, and had the best game of his career in Week 17, when he caught 5 passes for 81 years (16.2 y/rec) and a touchdown.

No. 2 - Special Teams

Starters don’t necessarily have to contribute strongly on special teams, but when a player is a backup — especially as a RB, TE, WR, LB or S, then that player needs to be a ST contributor. Trey Qunn’s special teams contribution is limited; he is an undistinguished punt returner. Sims was really no better as a punt returner, but added dynamic kickoff return abilities, with a 25.6 yards per return average and a KO returned for a touchdown in 2019.

Other players on the current Redskins roster offer return abilities as well. Isaiah Wright, for example, returned 41 punts for 427 yards (10.4 y/ret) and 3 touchdowns in his final three years at Temple. The Redskins should be aiming to improve on the 6.5 yards per return that Quinn has averaged as an NFL punt returner.

No. 3 - Injury history

Trey Quinn has been on the Injured Reserve list 3 separate times in his short two-year career. An ankle injury suffered in the first regular season game of Quinn’s NFL career put him on IR twice in 2018, limiting him to just 9 receptions for 75 yards as a rookie. Last season, he was knocked out of the Week 13 game with a concussion when he took a vicious and illegal hit while fielding a punt against the Panthers.

The concussion last year was really unavoidable, as Quinn was just doing his job when DeAndre White delivered a tooth-jarring helmet-to-helmet hit, but for a player who is likely to find himself ‘on the bubble’ in training camp, Quinn’s injury history may eventually become a consideration.

No. 4 - Jay Gruden is gone

Jay Gruden may have been Trey Quinn’s biggest supporter. Reports emerged shortly after the 2018 draft that Gruden was agitating to draft Quinn.

[A]s Doug Williams explained to Kevin Sheehan on The Team 980 after the draft.

“He was on the board a lot earlier than the seventh round.” Williams said. “Jay [Gruden] was beating the board for Quinn early.”

During mini-camps in 2018, Jay dubbed Trey Quinn the “quiet assassin”, adding,

He’s got strong hands. Very quarterback-friendly target. He can run the option routes. He’s learning from Jamison [Crowder], which is good, but he can also line up in different spots, so Trey is a guy that we’re going to rely on to be able to play multiple spots, be tough enough in the running game to block safeties from time to time. He’ll do whatever is asked of him, I know that, and maybe even return some punts. We’ll see, but I’ve been very impressed with Trey.

And then, at the start of training camp last year, Jay Gruden told reporters that second-year pro Trey Quinn had the slot receiver position locked down.

There’s a very good chance that Ron Rivera, Scott Turner and the personnel guys at Redskins Park may not see Quinn the same way that Jay Gruden did. With no personal investment in Quinn, the current coaching staff will probably look at him very objectively and see a player with NFL level skills, but one who dwells on the shadowed border between game-day roster and practice-squad quality play and production.

No. 5 - Rosters are a “numbers game”

It seems likely that the Redskins will keep either 5 or 6 receivers. At this point, I’d say that the Redskins have four roster “locks” at WR: McLaurin, Harmon and Sims returning from last year’s roster, and Gandy-Golden, who was drafted in the 4th round of April’s draft.

That puts Quinn in competition for one or two remaining spots, and, personally, I think his main competition will come from Cody Latimer and UDFA Isaiah Wright. Latimer was arrested and charged with a number of crimes about a month ago, but it’s too early to tell whether that incident will impact his chances of making the Redskins roster.

The key question that the coaches will have to address is whether they will have a backup to Sims at the slot position if Quinn isn’t on the roster. I think they will.

First of all, I don’t think the Redskins run any risk of Quinn getting “poached” if they put him on the Practice Squad. He should be available to be promoted if needed.

But even in-game, the Redskins should be able to survive if they lose Sims. Antonio Gibson can provide similar quickness and explosion, and Gandy-Golden should be capable of playing as a “big” slot receiver. If Isaiah Wright makes the team as a backup WR and punt returner (which I think is likely if the ‘Skins carry six) then he should also be able to play in the slot.


Trey Quinn has a reasonable shot at being a part of the Redskins regular season roster for the Week One game against the Eagles, especially if the coaches prioritize having a plug-in backup at the slot position. That said, I think there’s a very real chance that Quinn gets pushed off the roster. His ‘champion’, Jay Gruden, is gone. He lost playing time and was eventually replaced by Steven Sims in 2019. He has been out-produced as a receiver by Sims and has been a pedestrian punt returner so far in his career, with his primary attribute being that he hasn’t muffed or fumbled a punt to create a turnover.

The Redskins may value the experience and upside potential of Cody Latimer over Quinn, and they may value Isaiah Wright’s positional flexibility, punt return skills and potential to backup both slot receiver Sims and RB Gibson over what Quinn has to offer.

Eleven months removed from Jay Gruden’s proclamation that Quinn was a roster lock as the team’s slot receiver and punt returner, the former Mr. Irrelevant is facing a real battle to remain on the Redskins regular season roster as the date for the scheduled start of the 2020 training camp approaches.


Will Trey Quinn be on the 53-man roster for the Week One game against the Eagles?

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