There have been rumors that the Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals are looking to move on from Todd Gurley and David Johnson. Neither player should interest the Washington Redskins.
The 2020 offseason is upon us and while NFL teams are still in a six-week waiting process ahead of free agency, teams will be working behind the scenes to ensure that they have a plan for how to build their rosters.
The Washington Redskins are one squad that really needs to add talent to their team. They have some nice, young pieces, but they still have holes to address on the offensive line, at tight end, in the receiving corps, the secondary, and at linebacker.
Note that one of the positions not mentioned is running back. While some may question the Redskins overall group at the moment because of their lack of durability, the team shouldn’t invest much at the position. Sure, perhaps a Day 3 draft pick could be spent on the position, but other than that, the team should roll with what they have.
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The reason I bring this up is that the running back market got a couple of extra players added to it on Thursday when it was reported that the Los Angeles Rams may dangle Todd Gurley in a trade and the Arizona Cardinals may look to part with David Johnson. While both players are among the most talented at their positions when healthy, neither should be considered an option for the ‘Skins.
Let’s start by looking at Gurley. Once one of the NFL’s best runners, Gurley struggled in 2019 behind a weaker offensive line. He ended up averaging just 3.8 yards per carry on a career-low 223 rushes. He simply didn’t look healthy and it appears that his troublesome knees have cost him some of his explosiveness.
Gurley can still break some bigger plays. And he’s excellent at the goal-line (he has 42 rushing TDs in the past three seasons combined. But to get him from the Rams, the Redskins would have to 1) make a trade and 2) absorb at least two years worth of his four-year, $57 million contract to get him. That simply is too much to pay for a runner, in general, and especially not one with health concerns.
The same can be said of Johnson. While the Cardinals back had over 2,000 scrimmage yards and was an All-Pro in 2016, he has declined rapidly since then. Many nagging injuries have taken a toll on him and he has missed 18 games over the course of the past three seasons. And when he did play, he averaged only 3.6 yards per carry.
Johnson may improve if he’s healthy and playing behind a better offensive line than Arizona’s putrid unit. But again, trading an asset for a runner on a that has two years left on his deal with a cap hit of over $12 million each season is out of the question.
Even if either player landed on the free-agent market — Johnson looks like the more likely bet to do that, but that could be a stretch with a big dead-cap hit — the Redskins wouldn’t likely sign them. They’d be better off letting another team take a chance on an incentive-laden one-year deal to take on either. Frankly speaking, they have bigger positions to worry about as opposing to running back.
In 2020, the Redskins should give Derrius Guice one more shot to see if he can stay healthy. He looked solid in his first NFL action last year, but his third year represents a test for him. If he can stay on the field for most of the season, that would be positive. If not, they can explore other alternatives in 2021.
As for backups behind Guice, Adrian Peterson seems like a perfect fit to keep around. He’s a great mentor and veteran leader and he’s set to carry a $3.1 million cap hit next year if the team picks up his club option. Given his relative durability, it makes sense to keep him around, as he can be a competent starter if Guice misses time.
Beyond that, Bryce Love will likely get a shot to earn a role as third-down back. Chris Thompson will hit free agency but Love, a 2019 fourth-round pick, was said to have first-round potential at one point. And if he’s fully healthy after suffering an ACL tear, he will be a great replacement there.
There certainly is room for the Redskins to add to their running back room. But not at a high cost. In all likelihood, the team may turn to some undervalued veterans, a late-round draft pick, or an undrafted free agent to fill a fourth spot on their roster.
We’ll soon see what the Redskins do at this position. But it’s one of their lower-level needs and they probably won’t invest too much in any competition for their group.