With the pre-season winding down, and the high contact practices all but over, teams turn to winnowing their rosters in anticipation of the NFL regular season, less than two weeks away. By 4pm on September 5th - this Friday - all 32 teams must have their squads pared down to the final 53 man rosters.
For the Washington Football Team, most of those cuts will be fairly anti-climactic, but there are likely to be at least 2 or 3 moves that will raise some eyebrows. Below is my best guess at which players will stick and which will be moved along, either to the practice squad (which is up to 16 this year), or to try their luck in free agency.
For all the attempts by the WFT’s beat reporters to gin up a quarterback controversy this year, Dwayne Haskins put that speculation to bed fairly early. Dwayne has clearly matured in the off-season and has taken serious steps improve his game, locking up the QB1 role. Kyle Allen will be a solid back-up, already familiar with Scott Turner’s offense from their time together in Carolina.
Steven Montez likely goes to the practice squad. But what happens to Alex Smith? He’s not eligible for PUP because he’s practiced with the team this year. So, either Alex is put on injured reserve (IR) again this season, or he makes the 53 man roster. He could potentially go on IR, and take up a roster spot, and be eligible to return after 3 weeks. Might the WFT use a roster spot on Alex? It’s possible, but I hope not. The team needs that spot for someone who can potentially contribute straight out of the gate.
With the loss of Derrius Guice, the RB competition got a lot less complicated. All of these guys make the roster fairly easily, with the only real question being whether Peyton Barber joins them. There, the question - for me - boils down to whether Barber or TE Hale Hentges makes for a better fullback. Based on his performance last year, I’m throwing in with Hale.
The TE competition had some surprises - the strong performance of Marcus Baugh, and the lackluster showing for Thad Moss (another practice squader) - but ultimately very little drama at the top. As predicted, and telegraphed by River and Coach Hoener, Logan Thomas ran away with TE1 slot. It’s important to remember as well, given his experience as a college QB, that Thomas could also serve as QB3 in a pinch.
Against my better judgement, the team retains Jeremy Sprinkle for one final season. As mentioned above, Hentges goes back to his Alabama roots as primarily a blocking TE and part-time FB.
WR3: S. Sims
WR5: C. Sims
The wide receiving corps is one of the thinnest groups on the team, yet also one of the more difficult to figure out. Terry McLaurin and Steve Sims are lead pipe locks. Dontrelle Inman hasn’t played in more than 12 games in any of the last 3 seasons, but he seems to be settling in as the team’s WR2, as long as he can stay healthy. 2020 4th rounder Antonio Gandy-Golden still has a lot to learn, but he’s pretty safely on the roster as well.
The question becomes, which of these three players: Cam Sims, Trey Quinn, and UDFA Isaiah Wright round out the group? My gut says Sims, who seems to be developing a connection to Haskins, sticks because he’s the only real outside WR of the three. Of the remaining two, my gut says Quinn, the vet, sticks, while my heart says, Wright, the former AAC special teams player of the year, makes the team. Here I go with my heart. If Wright gets placed on the practice squad, don’t be surprised if his former Temple head coach, Matt Rhule, tries to poach him for the Panthers.
At this point, it looks like the starting 5 OL will be Christian, Martin, Roullier, Scherff, and Moses. 4th rounder Saadhiq Charles and free agent Cornelius Lucas are likely safe as tackle depth. Keith Ismael has gotten rave reviews, and may end up eventually replacing Chase Roullier at center, perhaps signaling a practice squad assignment for Ross Pierschbacher.
Wes Schweitzer was solid guard depth for the Falcons, and he’ll likely play the same role in DC. Timon Parris and, perhaps, Josh Garnett, get assigned to the practice squad.
Sweat, Young, and Kerrigan. Those names will strike terror into the hearts of opponents this year. Ryan Anderson started coming into his own last year, and helps provide versatile depth, with the ability to help out as a linebacker if need be.
The last DE slot probably comes down to Jordan Brailford, Nate Orchard, or James Smith-Williams. Brailford and Orchard are pass rush specialists. Smith-Williams is a high character, athletic freak who had trouble with injury issues in college. He’s gotten recent recognition from Rivera for his special teams contributions, which is critical for a back-end roster player. This is a guy who could absolutely feast on the knowledge Young, Sweat, and Kerrigan could pass along to him. Brailford goes to the practice squad.
Assuming Jon Allen’s leg injury is nothing serious, this defensive tackle group probably ends up being one of the best in the league. There’s just very little room for anyone to break in here. Assuming everyone stays healthy, I should be able to write those same sentences this time next year.
LB3: Kevin Pierre-Louis
LB4: T. Davis
LB5: Shaun Dion Hamilton
Before the pre-season, I was pretty confident that Jon Bostic, Cole Holcomb, and Thomas Davis would be the starting LBs. Now, I wouldn’t be surprised if KPL is in that mix. I think Khaleke Hudson makes the team as a nickel LB/special teamer, and Shaun Dion Hamilton sticks as LB depth. Could this be the end of the line for Reuben Foster? I think there’s a reasonable chance it is.
Free agent Kendall Fuller is a lock, and cornerbacks Jimmy Moreland and Ronald Darby have gotten continuous accolades throughout camp. Fabian Moreau has been dinged up, but it’s reasonable to think he’s going to get a chance to try to replicate his late season heroics from last year, playing on the outside. Greg Stroman seems to me to have had a good enough camp to stick as depth. Danny Johnson goes to the practice squad.
S3: S. Davis
In one of the more shocking developments of training camp, it seems like Troy Apke has forcefully stolen the starting free safety position alongside Landon Collins. Apke seems to have ironed out his issues with taking bad angles and has been absolutely blowing up people in practice.
That leaves free agent Sean Davis as very solid FS depth, and Deshazor Everett and rookie Kamren Curl as safety depth and key special teams contributors. Jeremy Reaves goes to the practice squad.
Special Teams: 3
There’s absolutely no suspense here. Perhaps someday Nick Sundberg will be replaced, but it won’t be this day.
What did I get wrong?
This poll is closed
Alex Smith makes the team.
Peyton Barber makes the team.
Jeremy Sprinkle gets cut.
Trey Quinn makes the team.
Brailford or Orchard makes the team.
Reuben Foster makes the team.
Seems accurate to me.