Just two years after signing Andre Roberts to a four-year, $16 million contract, the Washington Redskins released the veteran receiver on Tuesday. Presuming the Redskins use a post-June 1 designation, they would save $4 million by cutting Roberts, who was scheduled to make $5 million in 2016.
When the Redskins signed Roberts in March 2014, the expectation was that he would serve as the No. 2 wideout to boost the team’s receiving corps, which was led by Pierre Garcon following a 113-reception season in 2013. In April, the Philadelphia Eagles cut wide receiver DeSean Jackson and the Redskins signed him, which bumped Roberts down the depth chart.
In 2014, Roberts had 36 catches for 436 yards and two touchdowns. He was also tabbed to return punts and kickoffs, something he hadn’t done regularly since his rookie season in 2010.
His role continued to diminish last season. Roberts was placed on injured reserve on Dec. 21 with a torn meniscus in his right knee. Even before the injury, he lost his job as the team’s slot receiver. After the first month of the season, rookie Jamison Crowder supplanted Roberts in that role and finished the year with 59 catches for 604 yards and two touchdowns. Roberts, meanwhile, caught just 11 passes for 135 yards.
At that time, the move reaffirmed a change in the Redskins’ philosophy — that coach Jay Gruden would utilize the best players, regardless of stature. The same week that Crowder replaced Roberts, defensive end Chris Baker replaced Stephen Paea, who signed a four-year, $21 million contract last offseason.
“I think we’ve had to make these decisions with a lot of different positions,” Gruden said after the Redskins’ win against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 4.
“Every game they have to perform to keep their job. That’s the only way it can be. That’s the only way it should be in pro football and I don’t think this is the only place that handles it like that. I think every football team, every baseball team, basketball team does the same thing. It’s a performance-based business. In order to keep your job, you have got to perform at a high level. That’s what we’re expecting from all our guys.”
Since Crowder emerged as a solid slot receiver, Roberts’ release was imminent. Combine the injury and the Redskins drafting TCU wide receiver Josh Doctson in the first round last month and Roberts’ departure was a question of when, not if. Despite his time in Washington ending, Roberts made an appearance on Monday at Ryan Kerrigan’s Golf Classic on Monday.
Prior to joining the Redskins, Roberts played four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals and caught 182 passes for 2,123 yards and 11 touchdowns. In Washington, he never matched the production that was expected when he signed.
After cutting Roberts, the Redskins maintained the 90-man roster by signing cornerback Mariel Cooper. Like Roberts, Cooper attended The Citadel. The 5-foot-11, 192-pound cornerback was at Redskins Park on a tryout basis on Saturday during rookie minicamp.
The Redskins also released cornerback Chris Culliver on May 2 and used a post-June 1 designation, a move that saved the team $8 million.