- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Aware now of where football will take him, Andre Roberts has begun packing up his belongings and has begun searching for a place to live in Northern Virginia.

His biggest concern, though, is his car — and how he’ll get it from suburban Phoenix to Northern Virginia. Driving the 2,000 miles himself, it seems, is not an option.

“That just doesn’t sound like a good idea,” he said, laughing.

Roberts, 26, signed a four-year, $16 million contract with the Washington Redskins last Wednesday — a deal that includes a $4 million signing bonus and $8 million guaranteed. After spending four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, he projects to fill in as the Redskins‘ No. 2 receiver behind Pierre Garçon, who could use the help balancing the passing game after he set a team record with 113 catches in 2013.

The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder initially seemed to be a good fit as the Redskins‘ slot receiver, but he said the coaching staff has told him he’ll be used all over the field. He described it as a similar role to the one he held with the Cardinals last season, when he caught 43 passes for 471 yards and two touchdowns.

“What most people don’t know is Larry [Fitzgerald] was our slot guy last year,” Roberts said. “I spent a lot [of time] on the outside. I did move into the inside when we went to four-receiver sets, but for the most part, I played a lot of outside. But they had us moving around a lot in that offense. That was one of [coach] Bruce Arians’ things — he didn’t want anyone to be keyed on. Larry played a lot in the slot to create that different mindset.”

Roberts, a third-round pick out of The Citadel in 2010, became a crucial part of the Cardinals‘ passing game in 2011, when he started and played in all 16 games. He had his most productive season a year later, when he caught 64 passes for 759 yards and five touchdowns — all career highs, and all while playing with four different quarterbacks.

The perceived stability with Robert Griffin III at quarterback was part of the allure of signing with the Redskins, Roberts said. He met Griffin for the first time when both attended the Fiesta Bowl in January. And, to begin building that relationship, Roberts will join Griffin, Garçon and several other Redskins players for a series of informal workouts to be coincidentally held in Phoenix next week.

“It’s huge for the offense and huge for the quarterback,” Roberts said. “Just to be able to have that continuity and that confidence, knowing that I’m going to catch every pass that he throws, and getting him to a point where he knows that if he throws it, I’m going to get it — to have one guy in there, that definitely helps a lot.

“It’s about consistency. When you change quarterbacks every week — well, not every week, but four quarterbacks in a year — that averages one every four games. That changes a lot.”

Between his production over the last three seasons and the presence of Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd with the Cardinals, Roberts knew it was unlikely he’d return to Arizona. Similarly, he knew a team would offer him a contract not long after the free agency signing period began on March 11, which is just what the Redskins did.

Now, it’s about settling in. He’d like to arrive on the East Coast by April 2, giving him enough time to get acclimated to a place where he expects to spend his next four years.

It’s just a matter of getting there.

“I’m excited to be a part of this offense,” Roberts said. “I’m excited to be able to learn new things, and play with Pierre and Robert, and be a big part of this offense and show the league my ability and help this team get better. I want to win with this team and help it win a championship.”

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