By Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler
20 questions in 20 days
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 8: Will Josh Morgan be worth the investment?
The background: On the first night of free agency, the Redskins gave Josh Morgan a contract that will end up being a two-year deal worth a cool $11.5 million. That is a lot of money, for a player who has no more than 52 receptions in any of his four years in the NFL, who doesn’t have even a 700-yard season on his resume, and whose season ended after five games last year with a serious broken leg. In choosing to lock up all of that money in Morgan (his cap hit this year is $4.75 million) the Redskins bypassed opportunities to upgrade at positions of greater need like right tackle or safety.
Tandler: As of right now, it looks like Morgan is the third or fourth wide receiver behind Pierre Garçon, Leonard Hankerson, and possibly Santana Moss. He will get plenty of snaps as the Redskins will employ three- and four-receiver sets frequently. But those formations will only work if the offensive line can keep Robert Griffin III upright for long enough to find Morgan or another receiver. An investment there perhaps would have been more productive. Bottom line, the Redskins signed Morgan and released Anthony Armstrong. Morgan is clearly a better receiver than Armstrong but he will count about $4 million more against the cap than would Armstrong. I don’t think that the difference between the two will prove to justify the opportunity cost of Morgan’s contract.
El-Bashir: The argument could be made that the Redskins should have been more judicious with the money they spent on Morgan, and instead signed a veteran offensive tackle or, perhaps, upgraded the defensive secondary. But the offense amassed a woeful 18 points per game in 2011, and even with the addition of a dynamic rookie at quarterback, the team needed more weapons. Morgan’s size and speed could make him a dangerous one. I liked what I saw from the D.C. native this preseason as he hauled in nine receptions for 99 yards, seven first downs and a touchdown. At 6 foot 1, 220 pounds, Morgan can bowl over would-be tacklers and is ideal in short yardage and red zone situations. But his impact will depend on how often Robert Griffin III targets him, and with Pierre Garçon, Leonard Hankerson, Santana Moss and Dez Briscoe all in the mix, it’s possible Morgan will occasionally get lost in the shuffle.
20 questions in 20 days
Jammal Brown play this year?
#19 Aug.21—Will Chris Cooley make the team?
#18 Aug. 22—Can Brandon Meriweather get he job done at safety?
#17 Aug. 23—Is Garçon a No. 1 receiver?
#16 Aug. 24—Can Trent Williams go from good to great?
#15 Aug. 25—Can DeAngelo Hall be a defensive playmaker?
#14 Aug. 26—Can Santana Moss regain his old form?
#13 Aug. 27—Can Orakpo post 15 sacks?
#12 Aug. 28—Will Leonard Hankerson break out?
#11 Aug. 29—Can the Redskins flip their turnover ratio?
#10 Yesterday—How much can Hightower contribute this year?
#9 Today—Was making Billy Cundiff the kicker a good move?
#8 Today—Will Josh Morgan be worth the investment?
#7 Tomorrow—What can Jarvis Jenkins contribute?
#6 Monday—Is the offensive line depth good enough?