The timing to add Alex Smith to the roster may be ideal for the Washington Redskins as the receiving corps should be ready to blossom under the veteran quarterback’s leadership. Most of Smith’s receivers have plenty of playing experience despite being in the early stages of their careers.
Smith, entering his 14th season, doesn’t have to get a rookie ready to hold a major role, but also isn’t dragging along pricey older veterans who may have plateaued.
Paul Richardson just turned 26, Josh Doctson is 25 and Jamison Crowder is 24. Each is entering his prime. Tight end Jordan Reed is 27 with an 87-catch, 953-yard, 11-touchdown season on the resume, but injuries have reduced those numbers the past two seasons. Reed remains capable of surpassing those numbers if he can stay healthy.
There’s also optimism for the futures of second-year wide receiver Robert Davis and rookie Trey Quinn.
Richardson just cashed in on a five-year, $40 million contract, but both Doctson and Crowder are on their rookie deals.
The Redskins begin a scheduled three-day mandatory minicamp Tuesday, followed by a six-week break before training camp begins.
“Yeah, it’s a benefit,” Crowder said about having a young group. “Everyone is still hungry. Just trying to make a name for ourselves in this league. That goes back to what I mentioned about the competition in the room. Everybody’s going out there and wants to give it their all, put forth their best effort and put their best foot forward each and every day.
“When you’ve got guys in the room that’s playing like that, it only makes you want to go out there and play hard and give it your all as well. It’s a benefit to it for sure.”
By comparison, the Dallas Cowboys’ top receivers are a bit older and more established, even after parting ways with 29-year-old Dez Bryant. Terrance Williams (28), Cole Beasley (29), Tavon Austin (28), who’s getting running back snaps, and Allen Hurns (26) are expected to be at the top of the rotation with Hurns being the most significant offseason addition. Dallas’s tight end position remains in flux after Jason Witten retired. The team drafted wide receivers Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson.
The New York Giants’ top pass catchers are both young and proven with 25-year-old Odell Beckham Jr. leading the way as a flat-out star. Sterling Shepard (25) could surpass 1,000 yards after a strong first two seasons, and tight end Evan Engram (23) caught 64 balls for 722 yards and six touchdowns as a rookie.
The Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles are led by veteran Pro Bowler Alshon Jeffery (28) and Nelson Agholor (25), who posted a career year with 62 catches, 768 yards and eight touchdowns in his third year. The team also added Mike Wallace (31) and Markus Wheaton (27). Tight end Zach Ertz (27) had his first Pro Bowl season in 2017.
The Redskins believe their young receivers are ready to make a jump, and Crowder has the additional motivation of being in a contract year.
“Youth, energy, speed, talent,” Smith said. “All those things. It’s fun. We’ve got a group that doesn’t have egos, that just wants to go work. They want to compete. They want to win. That’s important, to have a group that’s selfless. Because you never know when your number’s going to get called.
“You go out there and you don’t know what [a defense is] going to be playing, who they’re going to try to take away. Whatever they do, we have to be able to combat it. I think those guys take a lot of pride in that, being a cohesive group. It’s been fun to work with them thus far. I’m really looking forward to camp and taking the next step forward with pads on.”
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