Saturday, December 16, 2006
Washington's season ended, tenure in question
By Len Pasquarelli ESPN.com
Another disappointing season for Kelley Washington has ended prematurely, with the Cincinnati Bengals' wide receiver placed on the injured reserve list with a strained hamstring that has sidelined the four-year veteran for the past two months.
The move almost certainly ends Washington's disappointing tenure with the Bengals as well.
Washington is eligible for unrestricted free agency in the spring and, given his lack of productivity in four seasons and injuries that limited him to 12 appearances the past two years, there is little chance the Bengals will attempt to retain him. And, perhaps, even less chance that Washington wants to return.
A highly regarded prospect, despite playing just one full season at the University of Tennessee because of knee, hamstring and neck injuries, Washington was chosen by the Bengals with the top pick in the third round of the 2003 draft. At the time, being able to land Washington much later in the draft than he had been projected was considered a coup.
But the Bengals quickly found that, while Washington possessed enormous physical potential, his skills were undeveloped, in large part because of the lack of playing time in college. He is a long-strider who can run deep, but his routes need work and Washington needs to improve has consistency as a receiver.
Washington, 27, played in all 16 games in each of his first two seasons in the league, but did not make much of an impact. In 2005, injuries limited him to only seven appearances, and no starts. He played in the first five games this season, with one start, and had nine receptions for 115 yards and one touchdown.
Because of the hamstring injury, which occurred in an Oct. 15 game at Tampa Bay, he was deactivated for eight straight contests.
His prototype size (6-foot-3, 218 pounds) and deep speed will help generate some interest in Washington in free agency from teams that feel he might be able to salvage his career. In his four seasons in the league, he has played in 44 games, with six starts, and has 72 receptions for 893 yards and nine touchdowns. His best season was in 2004, when he had 31 catches for 378 yards and three touchdowns.
To replace Washington on the roster, the Bengals claimed rookie wide receiver Skyler Green on waivers from the Dallas Cowboys. The former LSU standout was a fourth-round choice who began the season on the Dallas practice squad, then was elevated to the active roster for two games. Green averaged 5.2 yards on five punt returns and 19.7 yards on three kickoff returns before he was waived earlier this week.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here .