August 6, 2008

Is Marcus Mason Going To Push Ladell Betts Out Of DC?

In last week's Hall of Fame Game, Marcus Mason picked up where he left off last preseason with a dominating rushing performance. His big game reopened fans and coaches eyes, perhaps might get him somewhere in his quest to make the final roster.

If Mason make the roster, what will the Redskins do with four running backs? Clinton Portis is obviously the starter while Rock Cartwright was just signed to a multiyear deal and is the primary kick returner. That leaves Ladell Betts, who I believe is a candidate to exit stage right.

Betts had a breakthrough season in 2006 when Portis missed most of the year with injuries. He rushed for over 1100 yards without even starting a full slat of games and the Skins quickly locked him up for five more years at 5 million a season.

That's a bit pricey for a backup and Betts' injury history also hurts his stock. He is nursing a strained calf muscle right now and broke a forearm in 2003. In 2005, he missed three games with an injury and last year had his role decreased as the season went on. He carried the ball a mere 93 times and caught just 21 passes compared to the 53 he caught in 2006.

That output is not worth 5 million a year and if Mason continues to impress, then the Skins should really consider moving Betts. There are several teams in need of a running back and the Skins are in need of depth along the offensive line and secondary.

Possible trade partners could include Tampa, Chicago, Detroit, New England, or Houston. All of them are in need of a primary or a platoon back.

Tampa has Ernest Graham and Cadillac Williams, but Williams is recovered from a serious injury while Graham isn't necessarily a feature back.

Chicago landed Kevin Jones, but he can't stay on the field. Betts would provide the Bears with a much needed skill player.

Detroit lost Jones and don't have a clear cut favorite at running back. They drafted Central Florida RB Kevin Smith in the third round this year, but Betts would instantly become their best back. In addition, the Skins have traded with the Lions before (see TJ Duckett).

New England recently picked up LaMont Jordan, but he has never materialized into a good back. That leaves them with Laurence Maroney who has a bum shoulder. Maroney's shoulder has been reported to be a chronic injury that has already forced him to miss time. He is a good player, but the Patriots need some security at running back.

Houston has Mike Bell, Steve Slaton, Chris Brown, and Ahman Green. Green is washed up, Brown is injury prone, Slaton is a change of pace back, and Bell is a cast off from the Broncos. Betts would solidify their running game.

The Skins really can't afford to have four backs on their roster. One has got to go. Betts is overpaid, but still possesses trade value. I wouldn't be surprised to see him dealt for some much needed depth on the offensive line or secondary.

For now, we will just have to wait and see what the Skins front office can do.

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