Retaining Vernon Davis, Redskins prevent another hole in passing game

The Washington Redskins face a lot of questions with their passing game, which is why retaining tight end Vernon Davis is a solid move.

Receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson received plenty of interest on the first day of the legal tampering period – San Francisco is the team to watch with Garcon; Tampa Bay for Jackson. Therefore, their return – in doubt from the time the season ended – looks even less likely. Both receivers are about to get paid.

The Redskins weren’t sure if they’d be able to retain Davis, who was expected to be courted by the Los Angeles Rams as well. Rams coach Sean McVay was Davis’ offensive coordinator in Washington last season. Also, Davis wants to act, so playing near Hollywood certainly would have been a lure.

But Davis opted to stay in his hometown, giving the Redskins depth at tight end. Davis, who caught 44 passes for 583 yards and two touchdowns last season, provides insurance behind starter Jordan Reed, who has yet to play in 16 regular-season games in his four NFL seasons. Reed missed four games last season; the Redskins were 2-2 in those games, partly because they still had a threat at the position. Davis caught a combined 14 passes in the games Reed missed. Washington also has Niles Paul and Derek Carrier under contract, so it’s a position they don’t have to worry about for the time being.

Davis showed last season that he could still run past certain defenders. He showed he could help in the blocking game, too, though he handled that role better in the first 12 games or so. And near midseason, Davis said he was enjoying the offense so much that he added about five years to how long he wanted to keep playing. Before signing with Washington last year, Davis said he anticipated perhaps playing one more season.

It would take a massive leap of faith to say the Redskins will be better in the passing game without Garcon and Jackson. While there’s optimism that Josh Doctson will recover from his Achilles issues, no one knows if that will continue or how he’ll play. There’s uncertainty about quarterback Kirk Cousins’ future as well: Will the Redskins try to trade him if a long-term deal can’t be struck? Again: The 49ers are the team to watch.

Keeping Davis won’t transform the offense. It won’t compensate for losing two 1,000-yard receivers. But it does give the Redskins a good tight end group and it does prevent them from adding another position to their offseason to-do list.