The recent season-ending injury suffered by Washington Redskins’ cornerback/punt returner Richard Crawford has put the team in a precarious situation. Crawford didn’t have much experience returning punts, considering that he only returned eight of them during the 2012 season. However, he averaged almost 20 yards per return, which solidifies his big-play potential.
The Redskins don’t have a viable option to replace Crawford on their roster. Reserve tight end Niles Paul returned kickoffs for Washington last season, but he lacks the breakaway speed and big play ability to return punts. Free-agent kick returner Brandon Banks, who played for the Redskins in 2010 and 2011, is a viable option as well. However, Redskins’ head coach Mike Shanahan didn’t seem too enthralled with the diminutive Banks, who was eventually phased out of Washington’s return game before his departure from the team last season.
Free-agent kick returner Josh Cribbs (above, with football) would be a viable option. Cribbs spent his entire eight-year career with the Cleveland Browns before his release after the 2012 season. He was signed by the Oakland Raiders before the 2013 season in an effort to provide a spark to a Raiders’ franchise that could definitely use one.
Cribbs has a proven track record as one of the NFL’s most dangerous return men. He returned three punts for touchdowns to go along with his eight touchdowns via kickoff returns. Factor in his near 26-yard average on kickoff returns for his career, and it’s easy to see why Cribbs is so valuable in the return game.
Cribbs was released by the Raiders on Sunday, creating speculation that his days as a prime punt returner are finished. In addition, the Redskins have limited funds to spend on free-agents, so coming to a mutually satisfying financial agreement with Cribbs might pose a challenge. Nevertheless, Washington should try to sign Cribbs anyway, because acquiring him would go more than a long way towards solidifying their special teams.