When Eddie Royal scored a touchdown in the Broncos’ Wild Card win over the Steelers, a few people hit me on Twitter to say that he will be a free agent this year, that Mike Shanahan drafted him in the second round in 2008, and that he might be a nice fit with the Redskins. The fact that he was born in Alexandria and starred at Westfield High and Virginia Tech certainly raises the level of interest in him.
Royal will be 26 next season and he is a quick, athletic receiver capable of making highlight-reel catches. On top of that, he can save you a roster spot as he returns both punts and kickoffs.
However, it would not be surprising if the Redskins did not make a serious play for Royal when free agency starts. He’s not the big-play receiver that the Redskins need in their offense. In his four-year career (57 games, 45 starts) he has 206 receptions for 2107 yards. That’s an average of 10.2 yards per catch. That would be OK for a running back but not for a wide receiver.
Even in his best year, his rookie 2008 season under Shanahan, (91 rec., 980 yards) he averaged just 10.8 a catch. Royal had a 93-yard reception that year; his longest in the three seasons since is 41 yards.
It’s not like the Redskins couldn’t use a receiver like Royal. His age is a plus should the Redskins want to jettison one of their receivers over the age of 30. They would hope that he can regain the form he showed in 2008 or even in 2010 (59 rec., 627 yards, 3 TD’s). In the 2011 regulars season he fought some injuries, played in 12 games and caught just 19 passes for 155 yards.
The bottom line is that Royal is a No. 4 or 5 receiver, the kind that the Redskins have so many of on their roster already. Perhaps he can be an upgrade, but I doubt that the team will be on the phone to him as soon as free agency starts up.