With offseason workouts beginning next week at Redskins Park, Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman takes a look at the team's strengths and offers storylines to watch. Up next: wide receivers and tight ends.
In anticipation of drafting a franchise quarterback, the Redskins spent heavily on receivers in free agency last year, adding two underappreciated threats in Pierre Garçon and Joshua Morgan.
The pair joined a diverse corps that already included Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson and Aldrick Robinson.
Their additions, coupled with talented youngster Dezmon Briscoe, made third-year receivers Anthony Armstrong and Terrence Austin expendable in final roster cuts.
The passing game was further buoyed by the return of tight ends Fred Davis and Chris Cooley, and the development of Logan Paulsen and Niles Paul.
Despite weathering prolonged injuries to Garçon, Davis and Morgan, the offensive passing attack soared last season.
Rookie quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins developed a rapport with the receivers, completing more than 65 percent of their passes, good for sixth in the NFL.
The team's 24 passing touchdowns was 13th in the NFL in 2012, but was up from 19 (23rd) a season before.
All told, the Redskins had three receivers with 40-plus catches, four receivers with 500-plus yards, and 10 receivers that averaged more than 10 yards-per-catch.
Heading into 2013, the tight ends and receivers should be fully healthy and further jell with the young signal callers in Washington.
Redskins' wide receivers currently under contract for next season: Garçon, Morgan, Moss, Hankerson, Robinson, Briscoe, Darius Hanks.
Redskins' tight ends currently under contract for next season: Davis, Paulsen, Paul, DeAngelo Peterson.
Players no longer on the roster: Chris Cooley, Brandon Banks.
When healthy, Garçon was the team's No. 1 receiver and top target for Robert Griffin III. Despite only playing 10 games last season, Garçon had 44 receptions for 633 yards and four touchdowns.
Most importantly, the Redskins were 9-1 in games that Garçon played, including every game of the seven-win streak to the playoffs.
Garçon produced despite weathering a foot injury that reduced his availability and productivity on the field. He is expected to be fully recovered for offseason workouts.
Morgan joined the Redskins while still recovering from a season-ending ankle injury in 2011 with the San Francisco 49ers.
The Washington, D.C. native stepped into the role of top receiver in Garçon's absence, starting a career-high 15 games. He led the receiving corps in receptions (48), and had 510 yards and three touchdowns.
Moss returned for his eighth season in Washington last year, losing 15 pounds in the offseason and moving back to the slot.
Even though he started only one-of-16 games, Moss had 41 receptions for 573 yards. He was also Griffin III's go-to receiver in the red zone, catching a team-high eight touchdowns.
He was one of just seven players that was the team in 2007, the last time the Redskins had made the playoffs before last season.
Tight end Fred Davis returned last season under the franchise tag, and was the early go-to receiver for Robert Griffin III.
His promising season (seven games, 24 receptions, 325 yards) was on pace for career highs when it was cut short by a ruptured Achilles.
After playing in only 19 of the team's last 33 games, Davis will be looking to prove that he is the long-term answer at tight end for the Redskins in 2013.
He will be joined by Logan Paulsen, and undrafted free agent in 2010 that has traded his 'blocking' label to become a steady receiver in the offense.
Paulsen appeared in all 16 games for the second-consecutive season last year, starting a career-high 10 games. He also seized the starting job from a Niles Paul and Chris Cooley after the season-ending injury to Davis.
Paul spent last season adjusting to a new position, making the switch from receiver to tight end.
He had limited opportunities on the field but performed well, catching eight receptions for 152 yards, a 19 yards-per-catch average. He also added his first career touchdown and was a standout performer on special teams.
Leonard Hankerson and Aldrick Robinson each took steps forward in their second seasons, with Robinson using his blazing speed and Hankerson his wide catching radius.
Hankerson ended the season with 38 receptions for 543 yards and three touchdowns. He appeared in every game after Week 1 and have a career-high five starts.
He flashed his big-play ability that shined during his time at the University of Miami, catching touchdown passes of 68 and 54 yards.
Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan called Robinson one of the fastest players in the NFL. He proved it in Week 11, catching a 49-yard pass for the go-ahead touchdown.
He backed it up on national television the following week, catching a 68-yard bomb for a touchdown.
Dezmon Briscoe returns for his second season with the team, joining the squad in training camp and contributing with a pair of catches for 22 yards.
The depth chart will be the storyline to watch heading into Redskins Training Camp 2013.
NFL Receivers Available In Free Agency
As of April 3, 2013; names listed are in no particular order:
--Victor Cruz (WR), New York Giants: Cruz is currently listed as a restricted free agent and the Redskins would create an uproar by bringing his salsa dancing to the Nation's Capital. Unfortunately for the Redskins, Cruz will demand a big contract, which is something the salary cap penalties are unlikely to allow.
--Julian Edelman (WR), New England Patriots: Edelman is a bit of a throwback player, playing both corner and slot receiver in the NFL and known for his ability to get yards after the catch. A one-time stand-in for Wes Welker in New England, Edelman could be the Redskins' long-term answer in the slot and provide a Wildcat option in the backfield.
--Dallas Clark (TE), Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Clark may be four years removed from his last 1,000-yard season, but the book isn't closed on his career. He proved last season that he can still be counted on for 16 games a year, and caught a respectable 47 receptions for 435 yards and four touchdowns.
Collegiate Receivers Available In The Draft
As of April 3, 2013; names listed are in no particular order:
--Quinton Patton (WR), Louisiana Tech: While the Redskins have one of the fastest units in the league, they have yet to identify a go-to big body in the red zone. Patton (6-2, 195 pounds) fits that bill and has the speed and agility to get open on the outside. Should be available in the second round, but may not be the top priority.
--Zach Ertz (TE), Stanford: Despite losing high profile teammates Andrew Luck, Coby Fleener, David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin to the NFL, Ertz had success at Stanford last year and cashed in with a big season at tight end. He brings good size (6-5, 249 pounds) to the position and is reported to be a polished blocker and receiver. Has upside, but injury and inconsistencies could see him on the board at the end of the second round.
--Gavin Escobar (TE), San Diego State: If former basketball players are the way to go at tight end, look no further than Escobar (6-6, 254 pounds). Known for his ability to get open downfield, Escobar could fill the Redskins' long-term need for a playmaker at tight end. Concerns with his ability to block will likely keep him on the board into the third round, where the Redskins' could be interested.