It’s the one bubble that doesn’t pop but instead comes back every August to demand the attention of ravenous football fans: The roster bubble. Every year, the bubble serves as the climactic stage for the cutdown from 90 to 53, and many of the Washington Football Team’s offensive players find themselves on that roster bubble in 2020.
The sheer quantity of players on Washington’s roster bubble comes from the inherent uncertainty surrounding the team’s roster. Washington is in the midst of a rebuild under newly-hired head coach Ron Rivera, and for an offense that has very little established talent, opportunities in August will be vital in determining who gets a shot in the regular season.
No position is immune to the roster bubble, so let’s take a look at Washington’s offensive skill groups, and determine which players don’t have absolute security when it comes to a roster spot in the fall.
Washington offensive players on the roster bubble in 2020
The release of Derrius Guice cleared things up a bit for Washington’s running back stable, but there’s still a lot of congestion impacting the position battle at hand.
Adrian Peterson and Antonio Gibson are the strongest locks; Peterson has the most security of all the team’s options, and Gibson is a high-upside third-round rookie. J.D. McKissic has also worked his way toward “lock” status, as his versatility has become ever apparent in training camp. This pecking order leaves Bryce Love and Peyton Barber as the two running backs vying for the final spot at the position.
Barber and Love are, on the surface, different kinds of players, with very different backgrounds at this point in their careers. Barber is a 26-year old veteran who’s been in the league for four years now, while Love, drafted in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, sat out his rookie season with an injury.
Some may anoint Love as the initial favorite in this battle, but Barber’s chances shouldn’t be discounted. Although he’s a marginal athlete, Barber has made a living out of being a tough, sturdy running back over the years, and in 2019, he had the 11th-best Offensive Share Metric (OSM) among NFL running backs.
Barber’s style isn’t flashy, but he’s dependable and can provide Rivera with a solid goal-line presence. Love, meanwhile, has yet to show that he can rebound from his injuries with the same amount of burst, and he hasn’t looked consistently fluid at training camp. For now, Barber and Love remain closely-ordered on the offensive bubble, and it remains to be seen whether youth or experience will win out.
Despite Washington’s unstable situation at wide receiver, one could argue that they have four locks at the position, with only one to two spots up for grabs. Terry McLaurin, who is a great bet in fantasy leagues this year, and Steven Sims are returning starters from 2019, while Dontrelle Inman was signed to provide a veteran presence. Additionally, fourth-round rookie Antonio Gandy-Golden isn’t going anywhere, as his height and physicality should be of value.
At most, Washington’s bubble at receiver has room for two roster spots, and as many as seven receivers are battling to claim those spots. The front runners include Trey Quinn, Cam Sims, and Darvin Kidsy, but lesser-known players such as Jester Weah, Jordan Veasy, Jonathan Johnson, and Isaiah Wright also have a chance.
Two players who should demand particularly close attention include Kidsy and Weah. In a truncated preseason environment such as this, athleticism will take on added importance, and both Kidsy and Weah have it in spades.
Weah, an undrafted free agent from the 2018 class, logged an all-time Relative Athletic Score of 7.89 at the wide receiver position, logging a 4.43 40-yard dash, a 129-inch broad jump, and a 38-inch vertical while standing at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds. Weah’s broad jump puts him in the 95th percentile all-time, while his speed and vertical numbers both loom near the 90th percentile. Weah is a near-elite size-speed prospect, and he has the athletic traits necessary to stand out.
Kidsy isn’t the same height-weight prospect that Weah is, but Kidsy has a different kind of athleticism. While Weah is a more vertically-attuned threat, Kidsy has the athleticism to separate with ease and elongate open space. Kidsy has 4.45 speed and logged a 41.5-inch vertical jump at his Texas State pro day back in 2018.
Kidsy, who stands at 6-foot-0, 180, and has quickness for days, has flashed in the preseason before, but a new opportunity in 2020 might be what he needs to stick around and make a lasting impression.
The superior athletes will undoubtedly have a chance to come out on top; Trey Quinn logged a team-worst OSM score of 28.62 in 2019 and ranked 80th out of 93 qualifying NFL receivers. Quinn is a steady route-runner and has sure hands, but his lack of dynamic ability might put him at odds with more explosive players in a tight competition.
It would be easier to tell you who’s not on the bubble for this one. At tight end for Washington, it’s Logan Thomas and everyone else.
Thomas, who recently turned 29 years old, still has a lot of tread on his tires as a tight end, having transitioned from the quarterback position in 2017. He only has 35 career receptions over three seasons, but he logged career-highs in all categories with the Lions last year, and he has the elite athleticism to potentially flourish.
After Thomas, who has a RAS of 9.65 at the tight end position, none of Washington’s remaining tight ends have a RAS over 6.00. Jeremy Sprinkle, an underwhelming option from 2019, comes in with a RAS of exactly 6.00, while recent training camp standout Marcus Baugh has a middling figure of 4.66. Veteran Richard Rodgers lingers not far above Baugh, and second-year player Hale Hentges boasts a paltry value of 1.42.
With athleticism not being much of a separating factor among Washington’s secondary tight ends, it will be very interesting to see how the position unfolds. Hentges may rank as the least inspiring athlete, but he showed good toughness and run-after-catch ability in limited action last year, and his utility as a blocker could provide him with an edge.
Baugh, meanwhile, has been getting plenty of looks with the first-team unit thus far in training camp, and Sprinkle, while uninspiring in his regular-season moments to date, does have the most intriguing size-athleticism combination. Washington’s bubble at tight end is a big one, and who gets left out will be decided not by numbers, but by performance on the field.