How does the Washington Football Team depth chart look post-draft and following the the release of Morgan Moses?
The past few weeks have seen a number of changes to the Washington Football Team roster. Here's a quick recap of the changes that have occurred since the draft:
- RB Jaret Patterson was signed as an undrafted college free agent out of Buffalo.
- CB Demarkus Acy was waived.
- WR Jeff Badet was waived.
- TE Marcus Baugh was waived.
- TE Deon Yelder was signed as a free agent from the Kansas City Chiefs.
- Left Tackle Charles Leno was signed from the Chicago Bears.
- CB Linden Stephens was signed as a free agent from the Seattle Seahawks.
- DB Chris Miller was claimed off of waivers from the Arizona Cardinals. The WFT announcement called Miller a CB, but I have listed him on the depth chart as a strong safety based on his previous playing history.
- SAM Linebacker Joe Walker (who was Hasaan Reddick’s backup in AZ in 2019) was signed as a free agent from the 49ers.
- WILL linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons was released after opting out of the 2020 season over COVID concerns.
- Left Tackle Geron Christian III was waived.
- Right Tackle Morgan Moses was released in the wake of the signing of OT Charles Leno from the Bears.
At the moment, the Football Team has two open roster spots (although they have 89 players, they get a roster exemption for international pathway player, David Bada, so the team can have 91 players in the offseason). The numbers that appear beside some player names are 2021 cap hits; I have only inlcuded cap hits in excess of $1m.
Here is the current depth chart:
Color code key:
Some clear training camp battles are shaping up at a number of positions.
It seems almost a foregone conclusion that Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the starting quarterback when the team hosts the LA Chargers on September 9th, despite Ron Rivera's earlier offseason proclamation that there would be a genuine competition. He also said that Fitzpatrick will enter camp as the #1 guy, making it his job to lose. The interesting battle here will be for the backup position. Taylor Heinicke became a fan favorite with his gritty performance in the playoffs against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, but last year, Ron Rivera traded for Kyle Allen in the offseason when he could have signed Heinicke without giving up any draft capital. It seems like Allen is a favorite of Rivera's. It'll be fascinating to see what happens here.
Related story: Ron Rivera answers questions about the quareterback position
There appear to be three roster "locks" at the WR position: Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, and 3rd round draft pick Dyami Brown. Adam Humphries seems to have an inside track as a specialist slot receiver with good production, but his injury history is a concern. That would leave a number of players competing for one or two roster spots.
- Kelvin Harmon was a 6th round pick in 2019, before Ron Rivera arrived. Harmon missed the entire 2020 season with an ACL tear, and players dating from the Jay Gruden era have been disappearing at an alarming rate lately.
- Antonio Gandy-Golden was drafted in the 4th round last season. His rookie year was beset by injury, and, despite a ton of athleticism and the promise of huge upside potential, he never looked good on the field of play last season.
- Cam Sims is a 6'5", 220 pound receiver who has toiled away as a backup and practice squad member of the Washington team since signing as an udrafted free agent out of Alabama in 2018. He seemed to have a breakthrough of sorts in 2020 when he appeared in 16 regular season games, catching 32 balls for 477 yards and a touchdown, then adding 7 receptions for 104 yards in the playoff game against the eventual super bowl champion Buccaneers.
- Isaiah Wright joined the team as an undrafted free agent last season and was targeted 35 times, hauling in 27 balls for 197 yards in limited action. Wright seemed to struggle with drops and needs to improve his on-field composure if he hopes to thrive in the league.
- Tony Brown seems to have the longest odds of winning a roster spot after spending his 2020 rookie season mostly on the practice squad. He seems destined for a similar fate again in 2021.
Right now, I'm leaning toward Cam Sims and Kelvin Harmon making the cut, but this battle is likely to go right down to the final preseason game.
I don't think there's much question that Logan Thomas, Deon Yelder and John Bates will comprise the tight end room. The first question is whether the veteran backup Yelder or the drafted rookie Bates will see more snaps. The other question is whether the Chilean basketball player, Sammis Reyes, who was signed in an effort to turn his incredible athleticism into an NFL tight end, will make the regular roster or the practice squad. I believe Reyes will wind up on the PS.
Similar to the tight ends, there seems little mystery about the top two backs -- it will be Antonio Gibson and JD McKissic. The questions here are:
- Will Peyton Barber hold onto his spot as the short yardage back?
- If the coaches replace Barber or keep a 4th RB, will it be the veteran Lamar Miller or the small school UDFA, Jaret Patterson?
Things seemed fairly clear here until the release of Morgan Moses and Geron Christian about a week ago. Now there is a different expectation, but with a bit less depth also comes a certain level of clarity about where the camp battles will occur.
- Charles Leno will almost certainly be the starting left tackle.
- There is no doubt that Chase Roullier will be the starting center and Brandon Scherff willl be the starting right guard.
- At left guard, the battle seems to be between Wes Schweitzer, a 2020 free agent who played well in the position after supplanting then-rookie Wes Martin, who was the Week 1 starter, and Ereck Flowers, the team's 2019 starter at LG who spent last season with the Dolphins. My money is on Schweitzer winning the starting job with Flowers the top backup at both left and right guard.
- At right tackle, the battle will pit veteran Cornelius Lucas, who is a journeyman swing tackle who played well as the starting LT for Washington in the last half of the 2020 season after replacing recently released Geron Christian, who had been the Week 1 starter, and 2nd-round draft pick Samuel Cosmi out of the University of Texas. This could be a situation where the team relies on Lucas as the starter to open the season, with Cosmi taking over the starting job later. If the team's plan is for Cosmi to take over the starting LEFT tackle position in 2021, then the plan could be for Lucas to start on the right side for the entire season, allowing Cosmi to focus on preparing for his eventual role as the franchise starting left tackle.
- With seven players locked in, we are likely to see last year's 4th round draft pick Saahdiq Charles, Beau Benzschawel, 2019 draft pick Keith Ismael, and five others battling for two or three roster spots. The winners of those battles may depend on how flexible players are to play multiple positions, and how much potential coaches see for players to grow into starting roles in 2021.
Related story: Did Sam Cosmi just become our starting RT?
The two unquestioned starters are, of course, former first round picks Montez Sweat and Chase Young. However, there are four 7th-round picks behind them who will be battling for two spots (though Toney may make the team as a dual-position player at both DE & SAM linebacker).
The players to watch here are last year's 7th round pick, James Smith-Williams, this year's 7th round pick, William Bradley-King, and former Eagles 7th round pick Casey Toohill, in addition to the above-mentioned 2021 7th round pick, Shaka Toney.
The safety position group has gotten really crowded, really fast since mid-April.
The three roster locks appear to be Landon Collins, Kamren Curl, and recent free agent addition, Bobby McCain from the Dolphins.
There is room for probably two more players, but there will be at least four players competing, and a couple of them will probably be without chairs when the music stops. Both Deshazor Everett and Jeremy Reaves started at free safety at times last season; Everett holds the advantage here as the WFT's best special teams player and ST captain, but Reaves is younger. The team drafted Darrick Forrest in the 5th round, and while he is primarily seen as a special teams player, I'm sure the coaches that drafted him will be loath to cut him before the season starts. Chris Miller, a recent waiver wire acquisition seems a long shot at strong safety, but perhaps he can find a spot as a slot defender, and that may explain why the team listed him as a CB when his signing was announced.
A deep and competitive roster
It's clear that Ron Rivera and Marin Mayhew have done a good job of building a deep and competitive roster. It seems certain that the Football Team will be cutting players this season who will find a home on another roster in the league. In fact, Geron Christian, one of the two most recent releases, was claimed off of waivers by the Texans.
It should be an entertaining preseason in advance of an enjoyable and successful 2021 regular season with what looks to be the deepest roster that Washington has fielded in many years.