I wrote last week about why the Redskins should try to sign Fred Davis to a long-term contract (one with protections against injury and drug suspension). I got some pushback on the piece on Twitter with some saying that the Redskins win seven straight games with Logan Paulsen starting at tight end and that Paulsen, a draft pick, or a bargain-priced free agent could start there in 2013. In the Examiner, Rick Snider says that Davis is expendable and as good as gone.
And that may well be the case. The Redskins may have to move on from Davis due to the John Mara-imposed salary cap restraints. But if that should happen don’t think for a second that they won’t miss him. They will be missing a very versatile offensive weapon.
At the NFL Combine, Falcons coach Mike Smith was talking about his efforts to convince Tony Gonzalez, his tight end, to forego retirement and keep playing. He talked about the evolution of the tight end position with the athletic Gonzalez at the forefront.
"He was really the first one: the more athletic tight end who could extend from the formation, line up outside, line up in different places," he said. "In a chess game, the tight end position is becoming the queen. You can move it all around the board. It's not like the rook or the bishop."
To be sure, Fred Davis is no Tony Gonzalez. The latter is a sure-fire Hall of Famer while Davis is looking for his first Pro Bowl spot. And Davis generally lines up at the traditional tight end position.
But Davis is fast and athletic. He can run the traditional, shorter tight end routes and he can get open deeper down the field. When Davis is on the field, opposing defensive coordinators have to game plan for him and adjust. That is not true when Paulsen or a fifth-round draft pick is lined up at tight end.
You can win in chess if you don’t have your queen but there are a lot more ways to get the job done if you do. And the Redskins can move the football and win without Davis but they have many more options if they have him.