April 21, 2021

Washington Redskins Sign Thomas, Thompson’s Future Unclear

With Chris Thompson’s immediate future in question due to a shoulder injury, the Washington Redskins signed running back Pierre Thomas Friday afternoon.

To make room for the additional running back, defensive lineman Stephen Paea was placed on the season-ending Injured Reserve list with a toe injury. After setting a career-high in sacks with the Chicago Bears a year ago, he reached the quarterback for just 1.5 sacks in his first of four seasons with Washington.

Thomas was at Redskins Park on Friday and practiced with the team. The nine-year veteran stayed after to continue working before coming inside to talk to reporters.

Inside, head coach Jay Gruden took the podium and shed some light on how the Redskins will utilize their newest offensive weapon.

“Pierre is an established third-down back in this league and a very good pass protector and good out of the backfield,” he said, also noting that this signing is related to Thompson’s injury.

“We thought moving forward the last four games of the season it’d be good to get a veteran in here who’s played a significant amount of football and understands the game and he’s a good football player.”

Thomas staked his claim in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints, suiting up for the franchise in eight of his nine seasons. He’s primarily played a secondary role throughout his career, oftentimes utilized as a dual-threat back that can catch the ball as well as he can run. He has 327 receptions for 2,608 yards in his career.

“Any time that you have a back that can be a weapon coming out of the backfield or be utilized in the pass game and some empty formations,” offensive coordinator Sean McVay said Friday, “you feel really good about some of the matchups that you’re able to create and put the defense in some tough spots.”

In several ways, Thomas and Thompson are similar. The much younger Thompson has played the complimentary role to Alfred Morris and Matt Jones, often spelling them on passing downs and becoming a key contributor in the passing. In 2014, his first career touchdown was a reception. His speed and quickness will be missed, but Thomas possesses those same traits, as well.

Gruden noted that it is still up in the air whether or not Thomas will play on Sunday against the Chicago Bears. They have yet to make a decision on their personnel, and will wait to do so until they are certain about tight end Derek Carrier’s injury and how the defensive line shapes up.

For the final three games of the season, however, they do expect to see Thomas on the field. The second-year head coach hopes that Thomas will grasp enough of the offense to become a contributor down the final stretch.

“You know, he’s very familiar with a couple things that we’ll ask our running backs to do and he’s obviously had a lot of success throughout the course of his career,” McVay said. “He did a good job picking up a couple little things that we did with him. We’re looking forward to seeing if he’s going to be ready to go on Sunday.”

Thompson’s timetable for a return, however, seems a bit unclear. When asked about his availability for the rest of the season, Gruden simply said they don’t know. Early next week, Washington plans to reassess his status, as well as the running back situation as whole, and go from there.

At the end of the year, Thompson will become an Exclusive Rights Free Agent (ERFA). Basically, the Redskins will have the opportunity to extend him an offer before the league-imposed deadline. Thompson will then have the option to accept the offer or hit the free agent market.

On the market, it’s hard to imagine he’ll fetch a hefty price tag. Washington has stuck by the 2013 fifth-round pick out of Florida State. In return, they’ve gotten a total of 17 games over the past three seasons. In 2014, he spent the first 14 weeks on the practice squad.

Thompson is a player that packs plenty of potential, but the Redskins have yet to see that potential reached on the field. He’s shown the ability, but injuries and the fact that Jones and Morris are solidly at the top of the depth chart work against him.

They say you can’t lose your job due to injury, but Thompson doesn’t seem to be a real crucial piece of the puzzle at this point in time, and that could lead to his exit from the franchise at season’s end.

About Brian Skinnell

Brian Skinnell is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Nationals and college football. He is a born-and-raised follower of Washington, D.C. sports, “The” Ohio State Buckeyes and auto racing. A graduate of Shepherd University in December of 2014, he has a degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies with a Concentration in Sports Communications. Prior to joining District Sports Page (for his second stint), he spent time with Rant Sports, Yahoo Sports and the Washington Redskins. For his day job, he is an Editor for Team Velocity Marketing. Follow him on Twitter @Brian_Skinnell.

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