- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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Word out of Washington Redskins headquarters is that Niles Paul, a fifth-round draft pick last year as a wide receiver, is changing positions and will work as a tight end this offseason. Per Mike Jones:
"Coach gave me a call earlier this offseason and asked me how I'd feel about switching to tight end," Paul said in a phone interview Friday morning. "I told him, 'I'll play wherever you want me.' I've done everything I've been asked, and I'll keep doing it. I'm excited about the position change. I'm excited that coach has enough respect for me that he'd call me to ask me what I thought about it."
Paul has attended all the tight end meetings of the Redskins offseason program this week, a development that 106.7 The Fan's Grant Paulsen first reported Thursday evening.
An interesting development, I'd say, given the Redskins' current tight end situation. The star of the group is Fred Davis, who was the Redskins' most dynamic receiving threat in 2011 before missing the final four games due to a drug suspension. The fan favorite is Chris Cooley, who missed 11 games with hand and knee problems and carries a $6.23 million cap figure for 2012. Adding Paul to the mix to see whether he can become a viable option is worthwhile both ways. With all of the new options at wide receiver, it's probably Paul's best way to try and make sure he has a spot on the team. And from the team's standpoint, if he shows he can play it, it allows the Redskins some flexibility in their decision-making with regard to Cooley.
The Redskins like Cooley and love to be able to run two-tight end sets that help set the perimeter for the offense. But they do have salary-cap concerns, in large part because they're losing $18 million in cap room each of the next two years as punishment from the league for their spending behavior in 2010, and $6.23 million is a lot for Cooley if he can't get on the field. They could ask him to take a pay cut or restructure, but their leverage in such a negotiation would be limited if they didn't have another option for replacing him. Cooley is also a candidate to be cut, in which case, obviously, the team would like to have replacement options.