This Saturday will bring with it the finalization of the of the 2011 Washington Redskins roster, and the release of 27 professional football players who will be left to seek employment elsewhere. Many of the names released will be unfamiliar to casual Redskins fans - players fighting for a special teams slot, or players who invited to camp to provide positional depth in case of injury in areas such as tight end. Some names will be familiar to casual fans - former Steeler Willie Parker has been mentioned as a possible cut all summer due to his positional depth (4th) and his average performance in the preseason.
Then there is the question of wide receiver. Santana Moss still holds down the No. 1 wide receiver slot, but after that the selection becomes murky. Joey Galloway has demonstrated that he still has something left in the tank, and Terence Austin, Anthony Armstong and Brandon Banks have all had productive camps.
So where does that leave Vinny Cerrato draftees Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly?
On Monday, Thomas was questioned about his status with the team and how secure he felt leading up to Tuesday's roster cuts. Thomas' answers were telling:
"I don't really know."
"It's kind of up in the air. It could go either way. I don't really know the scenario," he said. "I'm just going to play my heart out, do what I got to do to stay on this team."
But would cutting Kelly and Thomas be the right move for the Redskins?
The cynic in me believes that the retention of Galloway over Thomas or Kelly would be business as usual for the Redskins - a sign that the team is not willing to completely shed it's image as a retirement home for the league's past stars. Galloway may have still have a bit left in his game, but is one year of Joey Galloway worth jettisoning the possible development of either Thomas or Kelly? Further, is it fair to judge either wide receiver on past accomplishments when the coach under which they played (Zorn) was in completely over his head?
However, there is a pragmatic side of me that questions whether I can't bear to see Kelly or Thomas cut due to their status as "high" draft picks. In other words, I'm not grasping the concept of a "sunk cost." Possibly both players are what they are, and unlikely to improve that much in the future. If the return for Vinny Cerrato's "fantastic offensive draft" is one above-average tight end, that is just another line is his epitaph as a failure. Therefore, it is better for the Redskins to cut their ties now and give the roster spot to a player who is more likely to contribute a winning 2011.
The answer probably lies, as it most often does, somewhere in the middle. Kelly has been hurt for much of the preseason, so his fate as one of the roster cuts looks likely if not assured. If the Redskins were to sacrifice Kelly for Galloway on the roster, it would be a decision I would be uncomfortable with, but one with which I could learn to live. However, if both Thomas and Kelly were to be cut, I would have trouble accepting that it wasn't business as usual at Redskins Park, with "name" players receiving the benefit of the doubt over unproven commodities.