As we count down to the first game of the Redskins’ season, Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler are going to be looking at some of the big questions facing the team and attempting to look into their crystal balls and answer them.
Question 19: Will Chris Cooley make the roster?
The background: For years Cooley was one of the best players on the Redskins’ roster, an iron man, and a fan favorite. The latter description is still valid but the other two are things of the past. He has missed substantial parts of two of the last three season with injuries and he’s no longer even the starting tight end. He would like to stay and play in Washington and the Redskins probably would like him on the team. But he carries a salary cap charge in excess of $6.2 million and that’s a lot to pay for a reserve, especially on a team squeezed by a league-mandated cap penalty.
Tandler: Part of me says that Cooley wouldn’t be on the roster now if he wasn’t going to make the team. On the other hand, maybe Cooley asked for a chance to make the team and was willing to risk suddenly becoming a free agent on the day of final cuts. If his roster spot is up in the air, it looks like he will have to beat out Logan Paulsen to make it and Paulsen is making a strong push to become the better option, especially given the disparity in salary between the two. Bottom line, I think the team and Cooley’s agent sit down next week and see if they can agree on compensation more in line with the player’s expected role with team. If they can, Cooley will stay; if not, he goes.
El-Bashir: If Cooley wasn’t in the Redskins’ plans, they would have cut him long ago, freeing up cap space while giving him the chance to settle in with another team. They owe him that much given the loyalty he’s shown and what he’s meant to the fan base. So, in my mind, he stays. But not only for sentimental reasons; Cooley is also a safety blanket. Remember, Fred Davis is one slipup away from a year-long ban from the NFL. And fullback Darrel Young seems is having problems with the hamstring that cost him two games last season. Yeah, his cap hit ($6.23 million) is high and, at 30, his mileage is higher. But Cooley's versatility, leadership and value off the field are priceless.
20 questions in 20 days
#20 Yesterday—Will Jammal Brown play this year?
#19 Today—Will Chris Cooley make the team?
#18 Tomorrow—Can Brandon Meriweather get he job done at safety?