This past season, only the New Orleans Saints gained more yards through the air than Jay Gruden’s Washington Redskins. Quarterback Kirk Cousins had quite the pass-catching group at his disposal. From wide receivers Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson and Jamison Crowder to tight end Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis. The latter was perhaps the biggest surprise of all. The sixth overall pick in the 2006 NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers got off to a slow start with the organization (and then-head coach Mike Singletary). But he would evolve into a dangerous downfield weapon for quarterback Alex Smith and later Colin Kaepernick.

Davis was part of those Niners’ team that went to the NFC title game three consecutive years. In 2012, the club came up a little short in Super Bowl XLVII to the Baltimore Ravens. But in 2014, things began to change for the 49ers and Davis as well.

Disappearing act

In his first eight seasons with San Francisco (2006-13), Davis hauled in 397 passes – 53 for touchdowns. In Week 1 of the 2014 season, the two-time Pro Bowler hauled in two scores in a win over the Dallas Cowboys. It would be the last time he reached the end zone with the team and wouldn’t cross the goal line again until this past season. During the 2015 campaign, Davis was traded to the Denver Broncos – a team on its way to a championship in Super Bowl 50.

But he was largely a non-factor with the club. He entered the free-agent market in 2016 and here came the Washington Redskins and a familiar face in then-general manager Scot McCloughan. He was in San Francisco and played a part in Davis’ being signed with the ‘Skins. It proved to be quite the nice addition for the then-defending NFC East champions.

Looking forward to 2017

This past season, the 11-year veteran totaled 44 receptions for 583 yards and two scores for Cousins and the Washington Redskins. It was a very nice bounce back year for Davis, who was then re-signed by the team this offseason. On the other hand, Garcon and Jackson moved on to the 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, respectively.

Meanwhile, the ‘Skins added free agent wideout Terrelle Pryor. They still have Crowder, along with Ryan Grant and 2016 first-rounder Josh Doctson. Don’t be surprised if the Washington passing game involves Davis even more this fall. Reed is a major talent but has had issues staying healthy and the presence of Davis is very important. Look for him to become an even bigger part of the passing game in ’17, especially when it comes to the red zone. Don’t be surprised if Davis’ catches dip slightly but that touchdown total more than doubles.