Washington Redskins receiver James Thrash is considering whether to undergo surgery on his injured neck and attempt to play again this season or decline the surgery and retire from football.
Multiple sources told The Washington Times that Thrash, who has missed all the club’s offseason workouts because of the injury, might choose to quit football rather than have the operation to play a 13th season, in which he would be used largely as a backup.
Thrash, 34, has played 118 games for Washington, more than any other active Redskins player except Pro Bowl offensive tackle Chris Samuels (136) and snapper Ethan Albright (128).
However, the one-time rookie free agent from Division II Missouri Southern has served as a backup receiver and special teams player since he returned to the Redskins in 2004 after three seasons as a starter with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Washington planned to play Thrash as the fifth and final receiver last season, but poor performances by rookies Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly moved him to No. 3 for much of the season behind starters Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El.
Thrash started five games but for a second straight season caught just nine passes. He has caught 290 passes for 3,646 yards and 22 touchdowns in his career. Thrash was expected to battle a slew of young players for the fifth receiver spot this season behind Moss, Randle El, Thomas and Kelly.
Thrash, who is the Redskins’ player representative and also served on commissioner Roger Goodell’s Player Advisory Council, could not be reached for comment.
Receivers coach Stan Hixon talked to Thrash on Wednesday morning and said that Thrash still is struggling with the decision after seeing seven specialists about his neck.
“James doesn’t know what he’s going to do,” Hixon said. “He’s concerned. He got hurt during the season, but he played through it. After the season, they gave him some medicine that calmed it down, and he thought it was fine. But when he came back in March and started working out again, and then it kind of bulged back up. They all want to play as long as they can. But James is pretty smart. I think he’ll do the right thing.”
Hixon said he told Thrash that quality of life must be paramount among his considerations.
“I miss James every day, his value to the team, his leadership as a receiver and on special teams and also in the locker room,” Hixon said. “You can’t have good people and hard players who you trust. James might not be the most talented guy, but he’s going to be where he’s supposed to be.”
Thrash hasn’t been even a spectator during the ongoing organized team activities because he instead has been in therapy sessions with trainers.
“It’s tough for James to watch because he’s been in [the training room] and because he’s still in pain,” Randle El said. “James hasn’t quite made that decision [to retire] yet. He wants the pain gone first. He don’t want to have no surgery. He believes that God is gonna heal him. If not, then he’ll get the surgery, and God will tell him to go ahead and move forward.”
The Redskins won’t pressure Thrash to make a decision until they need to get down to their 80-man roster limit as they start signing their rookies in the next six weeks.
Meanwhile, a team source and a source closs to Moss confirmed a report on ProFootballTalk.com that the Redskins saved nearly $1.75 million by restructuring the receiver’s contract - more than enough to pay for the salary cap acceleration incurred when the club cut offensive tackle Jon Jansen on Friday.