ROCKVILLE – Josh Doctson is a Washington Redskin no more.
On Aug. 31, the Redskins cut 22nd overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft as part of a slew of cuts to get the roster down to size before the season starts. Doctson was perhaps the most notable of the players cut last Saturday, given that the team spent a first-round pick on him in the hope he would develop into a future number one receiver.
“It was a team decision,” Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden said. “You’re always going to have some different opinions in the room when it comes to these cuts because we get close to some of these guys and we’ve been coaching them, and then you have the personnel people who have a different set of eyes and opinions.”
Doctson was a significant cut the team made and is a sign of a great amount of turnover for the team heading into the 2019 season. Along with Doctson, the team cut Samaje Perine, Cam Sims, Jehu Chesson, Brian Quick and Adonis Alexander, all of whom made significant contributions to the team in previous seasons.
While roster turnover is a normal part of NFL life, the Redskins are going into the 2019 season with a squad full of players who will be starting in key positions in their first season with the team.
Case Keenum will make his first appearance for the Redskins on Sept. 8 against the Philadelphia Eagles as the team’s new starting quarterback.
Keenum, who is entering his eighth season in the NFL, is a journeyman quarterback who has spent much of his career as a backup. For the Redskins, change at the position is becoming more normal, as Keenum will be the team’s third different starting quarterback on opening day in the past three seasons. Last year, the team played four different quarterbacks, as injuries helped facilitate the end of their season.
Among the most notable changes coming into the season is who is not there — Trent Williams.
Williams is Washington’s seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle, who has held out all of the preseason either because of concern over the team’s medical staff or a desire to get a new contract. Either way, reports are that Williams may not show up the entire season, and the team has fielded offers to trade him elsewhere.
Veteran Donald Penn, a recent addition to the team, will take over the left tackle spot for the foreseeable future.
Outside of who will be the starting quarterback, Williams’ holdout has been the number one issue this offseason for Washington, and Gruden’s exasperation with the topic shows.
“I have no expectations whatsoever anymore,” Gruden said about Williams’ holdout. “I’m kind of numb to the fact, so we’re just going to coach the guys that we have. That’s all we can do right now. To your question, no, I don’t have any feelings whatsoever.”
Potentially the most-hopeful and exciting change for fans coming into the season will be the debut of Derrius Guice. The Redskins drafted Guice in the second round last year, but a tear to his anterior cruciate ligament in the team’s first preseason game in 2018 kept Guice off the field for the entire season.
While the team was slow to bring him back, holding him out of the first two preseason games, Guice played a significant portion of the third game against the Atlanta Falcons.
While the team has a lot of veterans at running back, with the likes of Adrian Peterson, Chris Thompson and the newly signed Wendell Smallwood, Gruden said that Guice will get the bulk of carries this season.
“We drafted him for a reason,” Gruden said about Guice. “We feel like he can be a first, second and even a third-down back if needed. I think the offense, carried wise, will probably go through him, pretty much.”
On defense, the team signed safety Landon Collins from the New York Giants to a six-year, $84 million contract. Also, the team drafted outside linebacker Montez Sweat with the 26th overall pick in this year’s NFL draft; he could become a key part of a dominant pass rush headed by Jonathan Allen and Ryan Kerrigan.
As the team prepares to embark on its 2019 regular season, Sweat summed up how fans and players alike feel about it.
“I’m just excited to get rolling with the regular season,” he said.