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Redskins decline to pick up Josh Doctson’s fifth-year option

May 1, 2019 GMT

At various times this offseason, Redskins coach Jay Gruden has acknowledged wide receiver Josh Doctson’s lack of production. Since Doctson was drafted in the first round in 2016, the 26-year-old has yet to have the breakout season many invested in the team had hoped to see.

So it wasn’t a surprise Wednesday when the Redskins informed Doctson they will not pick up his fifth-year option ahead of Friday’s deadline for teams to do so for 2016 first-rounders. That means Doctson will now be a free agent after the 2019 season.

Doctson is coming off a season in which he mustered 44 catches for 532 yards. Both were career highs, though he caught only two touchdowns after hauling in six in 2017.

If the Redskins had picked up the option, they would have owed Doctson $10.2 million in 2020.

“I know that people are looking for more from him,” Gruden said of Doctson last week.

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Outside of his failure to produce on the field, Doctson has struggled to stay healthy during his tenure with the Redskins. He missed all but two games his rookie season with an Achilles injury and dealt with other nagging injuries in the years since. Doctson missed one game last year with a heel injury.

The Redskins drafted two wide receivers Ohio State’s Terry McLaurin in the third round and North Carolina State’s Kelvin Harmon last week in an attempt to add talent to the position.

The Redskins’ receiving corps were among the least productive in the NFL in 2018. Doctson’s 532 yards, for instance, actually led the team’s receivers. Slot receiver Jamison Crowder, who left for New York Jets in free agency, and Paul Richardson were each largely ineffective because of injuries.

Crowder missed seven games with an ankle injury, while Richardson was shut down in November with a shoulder injury. Richardson, who caught 20 passes for 262 yards in seven games, required surgery.

Throughout his three seasons in the NFL, Doctson has yet to finish a game with more than 100 yards receiving. Statistically, his best game to date occurred in a blowout loss to the New York Giants in which he caught four passes for 84 yards in December.

But during that outing, he was assessed a 15-yard taunting penalty with his team already 24 points. It was his second taunting penalty that season, also spinning the ball down 21 points against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 9. Those types of mental mistake left fans infuriated with Doctson.

Doctson also committed a costly mistake in Week 16 when he seemingly ran the wrong route against the Tennessee Titans, leading to a game-sealing interception from Josh Johnson. The loss led to the Redskins being eliminated from the playoffs.

“We’re looking forward to the Eagles,” Doctson said when asked about the play.

NBC Sports Washington first reported the news that the Redskins won’t pick up Doctson’s option.

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Drafted 22nd overall in 2016 out of TCU, the Redskins had hoped Doctson with his 6-foot-2 frame and leaping ability would become the ultimate red zone threat. Former general manager Scot McCloughan called the pick “a slam dunk.” But in 33 career games, Doctson has caught only eight touchdowns.

Appearing on The John Keim Report podcast last month, McCloughan said he still believes in Doctson.

“Doctson’s still not an older guy,” McCloughan said. “If he’s not (a productive player) there, he’s going to be somewhere, I can promise you that. ... If he’s not successful when it’s all said and done, it’s my fault. I’ll learn from it. But I would not give up on him. Not yet. Not even close.”