Washington Redskins cut Matt Jones, Nate Sudfeld in going heavy on defense

The Washington Redskins trimmed their roster by 33 players on Saturday, getting to the NFL-mandated limit of 53 players. Here’s a closer look at the final moves:

Most significant move: They cut two draft picks once thought to be a part of the future: quarterback Nate Sudfeld and running back Matt Jones. The latter move was not surprising at all, but it represents quite a fall after Jones entered last season as the starter. He also was a favorite of former general manager Scot McCloughan, though Jones was inconsistent and fumbled too often. As for Sudfeld, his release and keeping only five receivers allowed the Redskins to keep extra players at inside linebacker (rookie Josh Harvey-Clemons) and defensive back (safety Stefan McClure). The Redskins would like to sign Sudfeld to the practice squad, if he goes unsigned. But their comfort level in possibly losing him signals that they don’t view him as a future starter and, therefore, a guy who could eventually replace Kirk Cousins if he leaves.

Cutting the middle men: The Redskins cut both Joey Mbu and A.J. Francis, the main two fighting to replace injured Phil Taylor at nose tackle. The Redskins could sign a nose tackle who was just released or they could opt to alternate Ziggy Hood and Stacy McGee at the position. It’s not ideal; Hood played there last season but is best at end. The Redskins use their 3-4 base defense around 20-25 percent of the time. While finding a nose tackle is important, the Redskins were worse vs. the run out of nickel than in their base defense. They allowed 4.13 yards per carry when having four defensive backs in the game, compared with 5.07 in nickel.

Receiving numbers: The Redskins kept five receivers, a departure from the past, when they'd retain at least six. They cut draft pick Robert Davis and 2016 undrafted free agent Maurice Harris, but they'll try to keep at least one of them for the practice squad. They kept Brian Quick in part because he’s experienced but also because he can help on multiple special-teams units with his physical style. The Redskins had wanted a receiver to help in coverage. Davis had progressed during camp, but with needs elsewhere they went with fewer receivers. The sixth wideout would be inactive on game days anyway.

Redskins moves:

Waived (26): QB Nate Sudfeld, RB Matt Jones, RB Kenny Hilliard, NT Joey Mbu, DE Brandon Banks, C Lucas Crowley, WR Maurice Harris, WR Robert Davis, S Fish Smithson, LB Pete Robertson, CB Jeremiah McKinnon, WR Zach Pascal, OL Isaiah Williams, OL Kyle Kalis, OL John Kling, OL Kendall Pace, TE/FB Manasseh Garner, LB Nico Marley, LB Zach Vigil, DL Ondre Pipkins, CB Tevin Homer, WR James Quick, WR Matt Hazel, OL Arie Kouandjio, WR Jamari Staples, OL Vinston Painter

Released (2): DB Will Blackmon, NT A.J. Francis

Waived/injured (5): LB Ron Thompson Jr., C Ronald Patrick, WR Levern Jacobs, LB Lynden Trail, TE E.J Bibbs

Injured reserve (1): DL Phil Taylor Sr.

Traded (1): TE Derek Carrier to the Los Angeles Rams for a seventh-round 2017 pick.

Physically unable to perform list (1): S DeAngelo Hall