The Carolina Panthers and long-time tight end Greg Olsen have agreed to part ways. Olsen is weighing his options, as he will likely have a number of suitors in the NFL. Teams like the Patriots, Bears, Texans, Saints, and a number of others will be competing with the Redskins for Olsen, though none have quite as many connections as Washington. If Olsen decides it’s time to hang up the cleats, he’ll also likely be highly coveted as an analyst and TV personality. Greg Olsen will have a number of options, so why do I think the Redskins make the most sense in 2020?
Why it makes sense for the Redskins
In my opinion, the Redskins’ biggest team need rests at the tight end position. From Week 4 onward, the Redskins’ tight ends combined for a deplorable 311 yards. That’s less than the Redskins running backs, by a pretty substantial margin. The brutal lack of production was most evident in the red zone, as in that 13-week span, the tight ends produced a putrid two touchdowns. The lack of tight end talent was also clear in third down scenarios. Teams with quality tight ends look for them in situations like third and medium.
A good tight end is a mismatch: Someone who can reliably get you those tough yards and convert consistently. It’s also important to mention the benefit having a capable tight end can provide for a young quarterback. The two teams currently playing in the Super Bowl are home to the two top tight ends in the NFL. While Olsen may no longer be one of the league’s elite, he can still provide production and ability the Redskins simply don’t currently possess on the roster.
Olsen was traded to the Panthers in 2011. The coaching staff that brought him in? Ron Rivera as the head coach, and Pete Hoener as the tight end coach. They thought it was imperative to bring in a talented tight end for their young quarterback (Cam Newton), and they did that when they sent a third-round pick to the Bears for Olsen. Under Rivera and Hoener, Olsen developed into one of the top tight ends in the NFL. You’ll notice in the picture above that Olsen is embracing a coach. That coach is Hoener. Olsen embraced his long-time positional coach and close friend, thinking it was likely their last time taking the field together. If Washington was to add Olsen, they would be reunited.
Scheme and Need
Newly hired Redskins’ offensive coordinator Scott Turner has already mentioned the role the tight end position plays in his offense, quite literally saying “the tight end is very important to our offense.” During Turner’s first media conference call, he made it abundantly clear that the team would be looking at all options when addressing the need at tight end. Turner said “we’re evaluating everything” and “… we will look in free agency and we’ll look in the draft. Those are the different avenues to acquiring talent and we’re open to all of that.”
It’s clear that the team recognizes the position as a major need, and they aren’t afraid to use resources to acquire the necessary talent. Signing Olsen isn’t a perfect fit, as he’s up there in age and has had multiple injury-plagued seasons over the past few years. I’d expect that if Olsen is brought in, they also invest a draft pick on the position, or potentially sign another high-profile player at the position.
Why it makes sense for Olsen
As I stated earlier, the coaching staff will play the biggest role in Olsen’s decision to join the Redskins. He loves Rivera and Hoener and made it clear when he tweeted out that he was leaving the Panthers. When addressing the Panthers coaching staff, he specifically said only two names: “Coach Rivera, Pete Hoener… You showed me what it meant to be accountable in your daily pursuit of greatness. Through my success or struggles, you never let me lose sight that there was more for me to chase.” Emotions and relationships like this are what NFL teams are built on.
Olsen’s fit in Washington would be nearly identical to what he had in Carolina. He knows the offense, he’s worked with a young quarterback, and he knows how to win. Olsen would be comfortable in Washington, and they also possess the motivation to ensure he’ll be handsomely compensated. Don’t expect the Redskins to lowball Olsen; they’ll offer what they need to.
Whether or not the Redskins sign Greg Olsen, they should still look to add talent to the tight end position. Via the 2020 NFL Draft, free agency, or trade, the team must also look to add a younger impact player. Pairing that hypothetical youngster with a savvy vet like Olsen would be strong roster building around Dwayne Haskins. The connections are there, and Olsen to Washington will likely be heavily discussed until he either retires or signs with a different team. The fit looks strong for both teams. Now, it’s just a matter of “wait and see.”