PHOENIX — If the Washington Redskins decide to bring back venerated wide receiver Santana Moss, it likely won’t be until mid-summer.
Moss’ contract with the Redskins expired earlier this month, making him an unrestricted free agent. Relegated to a reserve role in 2014, Moss played in just 10 games and had only 10 catches — his fewest in each category since his rookie season with the New York Jets in 2001.
He was healthy, but inactive, until a Week 6 loss at Arizona, and he didn’t catch his first pass until a Week 13 loss at Indianapolis. All told, Moss played just 131 snaps on offense, roughly 12 percent of the team’s total.
“I could always play with Santana,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said at the owners’ meetings. “Santana’s a great person. He’s great in the locker room for us. He knows all the positions. I know he’s going to be in great shape, and I would not hesitate one bit to call him.”
Moss, who turns 36 on June 1, has played 10 of his 14 seasons in Washington, where he ranks third all-time in receptions, fourth in receiving yards and seventh in receiving touchdowns.
He returned to the Redskins a year ago on a one-year contract for $955,000, the minimum for veterans with at least 10 years of experience, and it appeared likely the season would serve as a farewell tour, of sorts, for the wide receiver.
But Moss, who hasn’t been reached for comment since the season ended, said in December that he believes he can still play at a sufficient level and will do so if he can find the right opportunity. If he can’t, he’ll simply walk away.
“When I leave this game, there’s not going to be no press conference,” Moss said four days before the Redskins’ season ended with a home loss to Dallas. “I’ll probably be somewhere at home and you’ll find out I’m gone. Seriously. I’m not good with goodbyes and I’m not going to sit here and make it a big deal about me. At the end of the day when it’s over it’s over, and there’s no need to be announced.”
The Redskins have four wide receivers under contract who finished last season on the active roster — Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson, Andre Roberts and Ryan Grant — and Gruden remains committed to developing Grant, a fifth-round pick out of Tulane last summer who had seven catches during his rookie season.
Offseason workouts will begin April 20, and if there’s still a glaring need for a reliable, veteran slot receiver when the program ends in mid-June, the door could be open for Moss.
“We’ll wait until the draft to see what we have as far as numbers at every position and go from there,” Gruden said. “You know, that’s something that we know where Santana is and he knows where we are, and something may work out down the road.”