Notable Players Cut Could Fill Holes for Redskins

WASHINGTON — The rosters have been pared down to 53 players, but that doesn’t mean they’re complete.

Washington made the initial cuts to trim its roster on Saturday, but more moves could certainly be forthcoming. With the hundreds of players suddenly thrust into the waiver pool over a few short hours on Saturday, there is a strong possibility Redskins GM Scot McCloughan decides there is better talent available than a player or two on his own 53.

For example, are the Redskins truly comfortable with a running back platoon of Matt Jones, Chris Thompson and Robert Kelley? Or would they rather have an accomplished veteran such as Justin Forsett, who was just released by the Baltimore Ravens? Or what about rookie Brandon Wilds, formerly of the Atlanta Faclons, who ran for 26 yards and a touchdown against the Redskins? He is dealing with a knee injury, but when healthy, he’s a dynamic back who offers big-play ability.

Here are some other players who could pique McCloughan’s interest.

Running Back

It’s not just Forsett and Wilds that are suddenly available. The Denver Broncos parted ways with Ronnie Hillman, who ran for 862 yards on 207 carries (4.2 yards per carry) and seven touchdowns a year ago. Hillman started 10 games for the eventual Super Bowl champions, and despite being just 24 years old, he’s improved each season while sharing the backfield with a slew of other talented runners.

Speaking of championship pedigree, Stevan Ridley is available. He’s fallen off some since his four seasons with the New England Patriots, and he was just waived by the Indianapolis Colts after a season with the New York Jets. But he’s averaged 4.2 yards per carry over his career and has scored 22 touchdowns, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s worked with Tom Brady and Andrew Luck.

Moving over to the NFC East, the New York Giants cut the once-promising Andre Williams. Williams was a fourth-round pick in 2014. He ran for 721 yards (3.3 yards per carry) and seven touchdowns as a rookie, then he followed it up with a disappointing 2015 campaign in which he ran for 257 yards (2.9 yards per carry) and just one touchdown. He was released mostly due to the Giants’ depth at running back, and it’s unlikely he’ll remain unclaimed for long.

The Tennessee Titans released two notable running backs — hardly a surprise given their stocked backfield — in Bishop Sankey and Dexter McCluster. McCluster is an electrifying player who offers considerable big-play ability as both a runner and a receiver. He has 247 career carries and 229 career receptions, and he has three punt return touchdowns under his belt. He offers some of what Chris Thompson offers in Washington, but at 28 years old, it’s questionable how much he has left. Sankey is a bit of a head-scratcher. A second-round pick in 2014, he could never seem to put it together, but he, too, was the victim of a crowded backfield. He averaged 3.8 yards per carry over his two seasons with the Titans, and he caught 32 passes for 272 yards. He is absolutely worth a team taking a flyer on, but for Washington, it’s more a question of what the upside of Thompson and Kelley is.

Finally, the Jets released former sixth-round Redskins draft pick Lache Seastrunk. Seastrunk became a fan favorite after a strong preseason in Washington in 2014, but he never caught on in any other capacity. He has yet to play a regular-season down in the NFL and will almost certainly be ignored by McCloughan, who did not draft him.

Defensive Back

The market isn’t as stocked with talent in other areas like it is at running back, but there are some intriguing defensive backs available. For instance, the Buffalo Bills cut Sterling Moore, who has started 16 total games over the past two seasons with the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Moore, 26, broke up 18 passes and intercepted one over that stretch, and he forced four fumbles.

The New England Patriots cut safety Vinnie Sunseri, a fifth-round draft pick in 2014 by the New Orleans Saints. Sunseri excels on special teams and comes from the always-impressive Alabama program, but he’s probably not valuable enough in the secondary to warrant a roster spot. However, at just 22 years old, Sunseri could be a candidate for the Redskins practice squad.

Pierre Desir turned heads two years ago entering draft season, as he went from virtual unknown from Lindenwood to hot name on draft boards. He slipped to the Cleveland Browns in the fourth round, and he never made much of an impact in Cleveland over two seasons. He started seven games at cornerback over that time, breaking up seven passes, but he didn’t do enough in that time to warrant further consideration. The new coaching staff in Cleveland gave him reps at safety, but that didn’t work out, and the third-year player was released. Standing 6-foot-2 and 202 pounds, Desir has a great body for a defensive back, and it would be surprising to see him team-less for very long.

Speaking of draft picks that didn’t work out, former first-rounder Dee Milliner was cut by the Jets. Milliner was projected as the successor to Darrelle Revis in 2013, but that never worked out. Milliner suffered through frequent injuries, and he didn’t perform as well as anticipated when he was on the field. At 6 feet, 201 pounds and boasting an Alabama pedigree, Milliner will almost definitely get another shot somewhere. Whether that’s with the Redskins or not is a very different question.

Doran Grant was a fourth-round pick in 2015 by the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he was waived after that preseason. He was re-signed to their practice squad, then he was promoted to the active roster in November, eventually playing in three games. But he was once again cut before Week 1 this year, and he is available for the claiming.

Finally, former Redskin Richard Crawford was cut by the San Diego Chargers. He, too, is unlikely to rejoin his old team.

Defensive Line

The Redskins could use some help along the defensive line, and there are a few notable names worth looking at. Seeing as they just cut Cullen Jenkins, it’s unlikely they’ll bring another veteran aboard. Nonetheless, here are several players who could be of interest.

Henry Melton was once considered one of the game’s premiere defensive lineman. He has certainly fallen from grace, however, and he was just cut from the Broncos. He has 22.5 career sacks, including 7.0 over the past two seasons, and he’s deflected six passes over that span. But he turns 30 next month and has been part of four teams since 2013, and it’s tough to see him catching on anywhere.

The Detroit Lions selected Caraun Reid in the fifth round of the 2014 draft, but he failed to make much of an impact. He started two games last season and recorded 2.0 sacks, but the Lions considered him expendable and released him on Saturday. At just 24 years old and once considered a fringe first-round talent, he’s worth taking a look at.

Defensive tackle Jordan Hill has just one career start in his three NFL seasons, but he has also been lost among the vaunted Seattle Seahawks defense. Without starting a game, he managed 5.5 sacks in 2014, and he added four pass breakups and an interception. A third-round pick in 2013, Hill has been a valuable contributor off the bench in Seattle, but he didn’t do enough to earn a starting role. However, a player good enough to earn regular snaps with the Seahawks is good enough to start on many teams, so he should get snatched up quickly.

The Chicago Bears spent a second-round pick on Ego Ferguson two years ago, but they released him on Saturday. The former LSU star started just one game in his two years with the Bears, and he recorded 2.0 sacks and three pass deflections. He missed most of the 2015 season due to injury, and he was suspended for four games due to PEDs.

Other Positions

The Redskins could use a little more depth along the interior of the offensive line, which is where players such as guard/center Reese Dismukes (an all-American center at Auburn), veteran guard Geoff Schwartz, 2016 fourth-round pick guard Willie Beavers and 11th-year veteran guard Jahri Evans. The most intriguing name is probably guard Josh Sitton, a three-time Pro Bowler, including last year.

Linebacker Manny Lawson was cut by the Buffalo Bills, which was odd as he was projected by many as a Week 1 starter. He started 14 games for Buffalo a year ago, and he has been one of the more reliable linebackers of the past few seasons.

Some intriguing receivers were cut, such as Cecil Shorts, but the Redskins are more than likely going to ignore them. They’re fairly well off at receiver.

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