Washington Redskins  

 

No more blind spending for Redskins, but where's the beef?

Well, they clearly got the memo. The Washington Redskins, once the poster child for free agency jet-setting, have once again kept the spending down to somewhat earthly levels. Question is, was the Twofer Tuesday a smart level of spending?

Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan are bringing in fresh talent in an effort to give franchise quarterback-to-be Robert Griffin III some weapons to work with: former San Francisco 49ers WR Josh Morgan and Indianapolis Colts WR Pierre Garcon. Eddie Royal, who spent his first four seasons with the Denver Broncos, is reportedly close to a two-year deal with the 'Skins, as well.

Garcon ... Morgan ... Royal. Get excited?

If RG3 is the Ferrari everyone assumes he'll be, does this group of wideouts constitute a fleet of Fieros?

Don't misunderstand, all three can play -- well, at least sometimes. And no question, the Redskins' restraint from making an Albert Haynesworth-esque splash for these mid-tier wideouts is the edgier side of fiscal discernment by Daniel Snyder and Co. But Garcon and Morgan? Royal?

Those fellas certainly aren't Gary Clark and Art Monk. In the infamous words of Ronald Reagan, "Where's Ricky Sanders?"

These new receivers are decent, but aren't exactly models of consistency. Garcon is the best of the bunch at this point in his career, with a work history that's been a mosaic of peaks and valleys, especially in 2011. Yes, he logged three games with over 120 receiving yards. Good stuff. He also had eight games with under 40 yards. Does that give any Redskins fans pause, considering he's making $8.5 million per year ... including over $20M for just walking through the doors at Redskin Park Drive? (Yes, they overpaid.)

Morgan is a nice player and came a bit cheaper: two years at $6 million per, with $7.5 million guaranteed. The Redskins are high on Morgan, and there are many around the league who felt he was an up-and-comer before breaking his leg in October. But that's the point with Morgan. He also suffered ligament damage, and any player coming off a major season-ending injury is an inherent risk. Not to mention, his career-high in catches is 52. And he's never passed the not-so-hallowed 700-yard mark.

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Then there's Royal, who also could be joining this second-receiver party. There's no question that the former Shanahan second-round pick has shown great promise in his young career. There's also no question that he -- like Morgan -- has had injury issues, including missing four games last season. His productivity has declined since a fantastic rookie season, with 91, 37, 59 and 19 catches over his four-year career. While Tebowmania was blamed in some circles for the drop in output, the throwing fullback only started 13 of Royal's games. Just a thought.

Give credit where credit is due: Washington made the trade with the Rams to get in position to take RG3. They're trying to give him a little more help than they gave Donovan McNabb, John Beck and Sexy Rexy. But which of these receivers can you hang your hat on for Washington to make a real push in NFC East?

Santana Moss should be back, but similar to Morgan and Royal, missed major time last season. He's also 33. Jabar Gaffney is still under contract, but is 31 himself. Basically, the Redskins have a bunch of No. 2's and 3's. Who's gonna scare a defense, or be the playmaker when the team needs a top threat -- like division foes Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz in New York, or Miles Austin in Dallas? Speaking of Dallas, third receiver Laurent Robinson had more touchdowns (11) than Garcon, Morgan and Royal combined (8) last season.

Throw in that tight end Fred Davis got busted for smoking pot last year, costing the Redskins four games, and Chris Cooley has missed 20 games over the past three seasons, and you have far more questions than answers. Shanahan seemingly loves the offense-by-committee, but again, it sure would be nice to have that one guy teams have to game plan for. Maybe someone like Brandon Marshall, whom the Bears just brought on board for the low price of a couple of third-round picks.

Consider: The Redskins are paying Garcon and Morgan, neither of whom have ever had a 1,000-yard season, a combined $14.5 million per year (although Garcon's deal is backloaded). Marshall is far more effective than both, has played for Shanahan, is a guy a team must prepare for and costs a shade over $9 million per. If willing to look past Marshall's latest off-field issue, Washington could have made a deal for the big receiver, kept Moss and Gaffney and still signed a Garcon, Morgan or Royal. Then the club would carry a surefire No. 1 option, a solid 2, Moss at the 3, as well as 2011 pick Leonard Hankerson and veterans Gaffney and Anthony Armstrong for depth. They also could have spent some loot elsewhere.

Yes, a move like that would've cost picks, and would not have been the easy score that free agency is. Instead, it would've given this club what it sorely needs: a top-flight receiver without completely breaking the bank. Sometimes, trades trump free agency.

As far as Tuesday's moves, the effort was there, but the question marks equal the potential payoff. And with Allen and Shanahan's record in town (11-21), that's a risk they might've just as soon avoided.

Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @Harrison_NFL

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