Redskins WR Josh Doctson: 'I think I'm hitting free agency next year'

ASHBURN, Va. -- The production hasn't matched the investment. And that means receiver Josh Doctson is likely entering his final season in Washington. There have been flashes; there has been frustration. There have been others to blame; there are times it's all on Doctson.

Regardless, Doctson appears to have found a peace with his situation. Experience combined with age, an offseason trip to Rwanda and some spiritual reading have left Doctson in a better place mentally.

That's how the 26-year-old will enter this season when the Washington Redskins begin training camp on July 25. The Redskins didn't pick up his fifth-year option in the spring and they drafted two receivers in late April.

"I think I'm hitting free agency next year. I won't be the first, won't be the last," he said. "It's nothing to be sad about, be mad about. Someone wants you there, so it's all love."

And it's nothing he will use as motivation.

"No, because that would mean it would have gotten to me and I'd feel some type of way. There's no motivation," he said. "I'm not trying to prove nothing to nobody. Just trying to get chemistry with the quarterbacks."

That wasn't said with any sort of defiance. Rather, Doctson's not focused on outside perception and is worried only about the present, when he must maximize his chances. In the past two seasons, he has caught a combined 79 passes for 1,034 yards and eight touchdowns -- numbers his fans had hoped would come in one season. His reception percentage during that time is 52%; the league average is 66.6.

There are two schools of thought at Redskins Park. The team should have moved on from Doctson because it can get the same production from others. And he's playing in a passing system that features tight ends -- Jordan Reed in particular -- and no one will really know how well Doctson can play until he's with another team. Not everyone has lost confidence in him.

"He goes after the ball like no other. I'm talking about a jump ball," Redskins cornerback Josh Norman said. "He has his strengths and abilities to where he can be one of the top guys in this league if he wants it. ... We have had a couple quarterback changes since he's been here. You have to take that into consideration."

Doctson, the 22nd overall pick in 2016 who missed 14 games his rookie season because of an Achilles tendon injury, said he no longer feels the pressure of living up to his first-round status. Some of that stems from a 10-day trip to Rwanda this offseason.

"Seeing the simplicity of life over there, see how much you don't need," he said. "I wanted to see the infrastructure of the city. I wanted to talk to everybody about being unified, teamwork. That country -- it has a lot of morals and values and a lot of discipline. Trip of a lifetime."

Doctson also started reading more, currently finishing up "Urban Monk," a spiritual self-help book.

That, plus the trip, helped him recalibrate.

"It kind of helped calm me down," Doctson said. "This is a child's game you're fortunate to play and feed your family and to be able to retire early in life. That took away a lot of the pressures, knowing that it's a sport, it's a game and there are highs and lows -- like in life."

Those highs and lows could continue this season. The Redskins drafted Terry McLaurin (third round) and Kelvin Harmon (sixth). They signed Paul Richardson last offseason, but he lasted only seven games because of a collarbone injury suffered in the preseason. They like the idea of pairing Doctson's speed with McLaurin's. They also have second-year Trey Quinn in the slot, and Cam Sims impressed them last summer before a season-ending ankle injury in the opener.

The Redskins are hoping depth makes the difference -- whether it's rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins or a veteran such as Colt McCoy or Case Keenum throwing to them. They also want to be run-heavy with Derrius Guice and Adrian Peterson.

"We just have to get hopefully more production for [Doctson] and he gets more opportunities," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. "I can't promise he's going to get a ton of opportunities with the group of guys that we have. With Jordan Reed and Chris Thompson healthy, they're still going get their opportunities. With watching Terry play, he's going to get his, and we haven't even talked about Paul. Trey Quinn is going to get some. The whole intent of this offense is to spread the ball around."