Five former Washington Redskins will play in Super Bowl LI for the Atlanta Falcons Feb. 5. Did the Redskins blow it by letting them go?
Four players followed former Washington offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to Atlanta after he was fired in 2014. It's not unusual for coaches to sign players from their past teams. Indeed, Shanahan is expected to be hired as the San Francisco 49ers' head coach following the Super Bowl, with the 49ers then reportedly hoping to acquire Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Shanahan gained two reserve Redskins receivers in Aldrick Robinson and Nick Williams, guard Chris Chester and offensive tackle Tom Compton. Free safety Dashon Goldson only played in Washington in 2015 -- after Shanahan's departure.
Did Shanahan spot talent the succeeding Redskins staff couldn't? Not really.
Chester is the only former Redskin starting for the Falcons. The right guard started every game in Washington from 2011-14 after five seasons in Baltimore but was considered an aging player at 32. When Washington drafted Brandon Scherff, Chester was considered expendable despite the former first rounder being considered a tackle. The Redskins were trying to upgrade their line and wanted a younger player. Ultimately, maybe the Redskins could have moved Chester to left guard, which has been problematic during the last two seasons.
Compton was also part of the Redskins line's continued makeover. After starting nine games in 2014 during his third season, Compton started one in 2015 before being released last season. He lost his starting job to tackle Morgan Moses and his reserve slot to tackle Ty Nsekhe. Compton didn't start any games this season but played in all 16. Frankly, the Redskins have a better backup in Nsekhe.
Robinson tormented Redskins fans during his stint in Washington. He averaged 21.5 yards per catch in 2012 and 20.3 in 2013 but on just 29 combined catches. When wideout DeSean Jackson joined Washington, Robinson became an afterthought and spent 2015 out of football before catching 20 passes this season for Atlanta as a third-stringer. Washington gave Robinson every chance to earn a prominent role, but he never seized it. They don't miss him now.
Nick Williams was a 2013 training camp phenom in Washington who unexpectedly earned an opening-day roster spot. But he played five games with three catches before being released in a roster crunch caused by injuries. Williams played nowhere in 2014 before catching 17 passes in 14 games for Atlanta in 2015. Williams has five catches in two games this season. Ultimately, the Redskins don't need Williams.
Meanwhile, Goldson spent two stints with the Falcons this season with four games overall and one tackle. Released Oct. 19, 2015, he missed 10 games before rejoining the Falcons. The 10-year veteran was traded to Washington by Tampa Bay and named defensive captain, but he made nominal impact and was released. The Falcons have used him as a reserve safety. While Washington had big problems at safety last season, Goldson wouldn't have been the answer.
Overall, it's easy to say Washington blew it with these five players since the Redskins aren't in the Super Bowl. But aside from Chester, Washington has upgraded.