The Washington Football Team cleared some deadwood off the roster today as the front office prepares for the draft, which begins on 29 April. Washington has eight selections in the draft, and, no doubt as the coaches and personnel staff have discussed the current roster and needs, they have identified players that they don't see as likely to make the 53-man regular season roster.
Five players were given unconditional release from the team today:
Two names on this list surprised me.
The first is Thaddeus Moss. While he was signed as an undrafted college free agent last year, he had gone to the Combine with most analysts discussing him as a likely 4th or 5th round draft pick. At the 2020 Combine, however, it was discovered that Moss had a broken bone in his foot that required surgery, which he underwent immediately. The injury was widely reported to be the reason that Moss was not selected in last year's draft, and it seemed as if Washington had done well to sign him to a UDFA contract. He spent his entire rookie season on injured reserve, but, given the team's lack of depth at the tight end position, I had expected Moss to play a large role for the WFT in 2021. The coaches obviously felt otherwise.
The other player on this list that surprises me is Caleb Brantley, who seemed to be viewed as a developing backup player during Jay Gruden's tenure. Last season, Brantley opted out due to COVID concerns and did not play. This means that he had no relationship with the new coaching staff, who clearly felt that the depth at the DT position, which includes Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Matt Ioannidis and Tim Settle was sufficient, and that if they wanted a developmental player, they would prefer a younger player with more upside.
Similar to Brantley, receiver Emmanuel Hall never played for Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner last year because he tore his Achilles tendon in off-season training in 2020. Hall joined the Bears as a UDFA in 2019; Washington was his third NFL team and he has never played in a regular season NFL game.
Running backs Warren and Leake were at the bottom of a long list of running backs in Washington, and had no real chance to make the regular season roster barring a spate of injuries to players ahead of them on the depth chart:
- Antonio Gibson
- Peyton Barber
- JD McKissic
- Lamar Miller
- Bryce Love
- Jonathan Williams
Love was drafted in the 4th round of the 2019 draft and has spent two years on the NFI/PUP/IR lists due to an ACL tear suffered in his final college game. It is unclear whether Love will be healthy enough to compete for a job this season, but Washington clearly felt that the current six players and the prospect of the upcoming draft and UDFA signing opportunities provide them with sufficient resources at the position.
Prior to these releases, the team had 82 players under contract. Barring further roster moves to either cut players or sign veteran free agents, the team will enter the draft with 77 players under contract. Washington has 8 draft picks, and can bring 90 healthy players to training camp.