When I look at the Washington Football Team roster, three words come to mind: speed, versatility and depth.
Ron Rivera’s tick list for players seems to be something like this:
___ “fit” (a. culture; b. scheme)
___ versatility (able to play more than one position/do more than one thing)
___ athleticism (particularly speed)
___ upside potential
Washington’s head coach seems to believe that character creates the foundation for a winning roster, the roster needs a competitive advantage — for the 2021 Football Team that means speed — and the roster needs depth in order for the team to stay competitive when injuries inevitably occur.
The last word I would ever associate with Ron and his cohorts when it comes to roster building is “complacent”.
The front office went to the International Player Pathway program workout, and when they liked what they saw in Sammis Reyes, the Chilean basketball player who is trying to become a tight end, they inked him to a deal. In the draft, they used a 4th round pick to select John Bates a tight end from Boise State. After the draft was through, they added Deon Yelder, a veteran free agent from the Chiefs.
Even before cutting quarterback Alex Smith, they tried to trade for Matt Stafford prior to free agency; when that didn’t work out, they signed Ryan Fitzpatrick, but coach Rivera was very open in saying that they would have drafted a quarterback if the right situation had been there. It wouldn’t shock me if the front office isn’t done adding to the quarterback room ahead of training camp.
The moves made to bolster both the starting offensive line and the backup depth has been almost mind-boggling. The team, of course, used the franchise tag on Brandon Scherff. During the March free agency period, the WFT signed players like Beau Benzschawel and Tyler Larsen, both interior offensive linemen. Prior to the draft, the front office did a pick swap to reacquire Ereck Flowers from the Dolphins, getting them to pay $6m of his 2021 cap hit in the deal. They drafted LT Samuel Cosmi in the 2nd round, and it looked like they might be done.
Not so fast — yesterday, the team announced the signing of LT Charles Leno, presumeably in an effort to upgrade the starting LT spot, but also to provide enough depth to allow Cosmi to have a generous amount of time to develop the skills he will need to thrive in the NFL. But wait! There’s more. The team announced that, among other tryout players, OT Logan Bandy, who was just drafted into the CFL at the beginning of the month, will be coming to Ashburn to work out for the coaching staff.
The team was light on defensive backs heading into free agency. They signed William Jackson III from Cincinnati, but also signed Darryl Roberts from the Lions. In the draft, they added CB Benjamin St-Juste and safety Darrick Forrest, and I think most fans thought they were through. Not Ron Rivera! Last week it was announced that former Dolphins safety Bobby McCain would visit on Monday. There’s been no word yet on the result of that visit, but John Keim reported via tweet yesterday that that door is still open. Now, we’ve learned that the 2nd overall draft pick in this month’s CFL draft, free safety Nelson Lokombo, is coming for a workout with the coaches at the same time as Logan Bandy.
When does it end?
Will this front office never quit looking to add to the roster? Isn’t there a point where they say, ‘enough is enough’?
Apparently not. This front office seems as if they never reach a point where they say, “job done”.
As fans, the question starts to arise — but what about the players that are on the roster now? What will happen to them?
The best man wins.
The best news possible is that last year’s starters are now backups because the team acquired someone better.
And you know what? In 2021, more than in most years, it’s going to be critical for the Washington Football Team to have great depth.
The 2021 schedule
Five of the Washington Football Team’s six divisional games take place in the final five weeks of the NFL’s first-ever 17-game season. If Washington wants to repeat as NFC East division champions and earn another trip to the playoffs, the team will have to play its best football in December and January (the final game of the regular season is now scheduled for Jan 9th). That means that the team needs to be healthy at a time when no NFL team is truly healthy — or the team has to have great depth.
Another quirky scheduling factoid from the @gmfb research team...— Peter Schrager (@PSchrags) May 13, 2021
The Washington Football Team's final five games are against NFC East opponents, the first time any team has closed with such a stretch since the NFL expanded to 32 teams and the eight-division format in 2002.
In truth, the successful teams in the NFL aren’t the ones with the most stars in their starting lineups on opening day, but the teams that can put the second team or third team player on the field between Christmas and New Year and dominate the other side of the ball. Depth wins division titles and championships in an attrition sport like the NFL.
Ron Rivera and Martin Mayhew know that, and they are building the kind of roster needed to withstand the rigors of an NFL season.