Chris Cooley and Santana Moss both had a seasons to forget in 2011 and both hope to be with the Redskins in 2012 to turn things around.
Cooley had issues with his knee swelling all the way through training camp, problems caused in part by the tight end trying to guide his own way through rehab during the NFL lockout.
He was off to a slow start with just eight catches for 65 yards when he suffered a broken index finger in the fifth game of the season. After a few weeks, he wound up on injured reserve.
A week after Cooley broke his finger, Moss suffered a broken hand against the Panthers, an injury that cost him four games. He had his worst season statistically since he was a Jet in 2002.
Both Moss and Cooley have had younger players added to their respective positions over the offseason. Joshua Morgan and Pierre Garçon were added as free agents and their contracts indicate that they will be in line for a significant number of snaps.
This comes on the heels of the Redskins adding three wide receivers in the draft last year. Mike Shanahan indicated that Leonard Hankerson, one of last year’s rookies, will be one of the top receivers along with Morgan and Garçon.
Shanahan mentioned Moss almost as an afterthought. He did say that Moss has lost 15 pounds since the end of last year and that he is in the best shape he has been in for the last few years.
One of the wide receivers drafted in 2011 is changing positions to challenge Cooley. Niles Paul has added some weight and will move to tight end.
Cooley, the longest-tenured Redskin, already was looking up at Fred Davis on the depth chart and now he must stave off Paul. Logan Paulsen is in the picture, too. That is four players vying for what is likely to be three roster spots.
Shanahan said that health will not be an issue for Cooley.
“Cooley is looking really good in rehab,” Shanahan said. “There’s been no setback with him working out, him being able to run his routes, no swelling in the knee area.”
Financial considerations could come into play. The Redskins are pushed up against the salary cap due to the $18 million penalty the league imposed on them. Cooley counts $6.2 million against the cap while Moss’ cap hit is $4.8 million. If the team releases Cooley after June 1 they will create $3.9 million in cap space while Moss being released in June would save $3.15 million against the cap.
The futures of Moss and Cooley might not be entirely decided by Shanahan. Law professor Stephen Burbank, who is the arbitrator who will decide if the salary cap penalty will stand, could have a big role in deciding if the Redskins can afford to keep him around.
Days until: OTA’s start 13; minicamp 34; preseason opener 93; Redskins at Saints 124