What happens next with Kirk Cousins will determine much of the Redskins focus for 2018, but there are plenty of other issues the team might look to resolve in the remaining four games of 2017.
Like what? Let's take a look:
- There are no linebackers - A report showed that the Redskins are talking with Zach Brown about a contract extension, but as of right now, the 2018 depth chart at inside linebacker looks barren for Washington. Brown, Mason Foster and Will Compton all have expiring contracts once the 2017 season ends. As it stands today, the Redskins have Josh Harvery-Clemons and Martrell Spaight under contract next season. The Redskins have enough tape on Spaight to know what he is as a player, a complementary piece, not an every down player. Could Harvey-Clemons develop into something more? Maybe, but that would be a big gamble to count on for next season. Obviously, much can happen in the offseason, and it's possible one or both of Compton and Foster return. They're well-liked by the staff and front office. Negotiations with Brown will be most interesting, as the NFL's leading tackler will be looking for at least $20 million guaranteed in a long-term deal. Can the Redskins afford that? Much of that will be decided by what happens with Cousins.
- What happens at left guard? Since Shawn Lauvao signed with the Redskins in 2014, he's started 41 games. His performance has been largely uneven, and with an expiring contract after this year and his current spot on injured reserve (for the second time in three seasons) few would expect Lauvao to return next year. The question then becomes if Washington can make Ty Nsekhe work at left guard, as the big man will be a restricted free agent in 2018. If not Nsekhe, does Washington look to bring back Spencer Long and have him play guard with Chase Roullier at center? The Redskins, like every NFL team, will look to add depth to their offensive line next offseason. They might need to add a starter as well.
- Who's number 1? The Redskins rolled the dice a bit in the 2017 offseason, allowing trusted veteran wideouts DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon walk via free agency. Instead, the team expected increased production from 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson and free agent addition Terrelle Pryor. It hasn't worked. Pryor had one TD catch in nine games and is now on injured reserve. Doctson has shown some extremely encouraging signs, but is it enough to assume he can be a No. 1 receiver next season? Maybe. Can the Redskins count on that? Probably not. Now would be the time for the Redskins to force feed Doctson to get a better understanding of his ability. The second-year WR from TCU has not gotten more than seven targets in a game all season. Jay Gruden would be wise to get Doctson double-digit targets in each of the final four games of the year to get a full evaluation.
- Be prepared - Washington faces losing two key defensive free agents this offseason. One name you know: Bashaud Breeland. The other you might have forgotten: Trent Murphy. Breeland is having a strong 2017, and while it would be a luxury to bring him back in 2018, the math will be tough. The Redskins are on the hook for $17 million due to Josh Norman and depending what type of contract Breeland commands in free agency, it would be hard to commit $30 million or so to two cornerbacks. Behind Breeland, the Redskins have Kendall Fuller and Fabian Moreau. Fuller proved this season he's a strong player in the slot and should be able to move outside. Is Moreau ready to play nickel corner? That remains a question. Murphy is a different situation. Last year he had nine sacks, second most on the team, and looked poised for a big season this fall before a knee injury in training camp. Junior Galette will be a free agent after this year, and Preston Smith will be in the final year of his rookie deal in 2018. It will be tough to gauge the market for Murphy after not playing all of 2017, but teams will be interested in the 2013 second-round pick. There is also 2017 second-round pick Ryan Anderson, who has shown very little as a rookie. Perhaps if he can finish the season strong, the Redskins front office will have a better clue what to do in the offseason at outside linebacker.
Plenty more questions remain, none bigger than quarterback, but that will get investigated. Plenty.
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