The Redskins put tight end Jordan Reed on injured reserve Tuesday, ending a disappointing and unproductive season for one of the most talented players on the team.
A hamstring strain that was slow to heal and got worse when Reed suffered a setback while trying to get back on the field was the reason for the move. This year will mark the second time in Reed’s five NFL seasons that he has ended the year on IR. He was put on the shelf with a concussion at the end of his rookie 2013 season.
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The IR stints are only the tip of the injury iceberg for Reed. He missed all of training camp this year due to a toe injury. Reed has missed time with concussions, other hamstring issues, a shoulder AC joint separation, and knee problems, among some others. His injury history and his 2018 salary cap number of $10.3 million has many wondering if the Redskins will choose to move on from him during the offseason.
It’s unlikely that they will do so this year. The best option for doing so would be to trade him. But they would have a very tough time making a deal. Other teams know of Reed’s injury history as well. He has played in as many as 14 games in a season just once, in 2015. By the end of this season, he will have played in 52 of a possible 90 games.
It will be hard to get a team to give up anything of value to take on his contracted salaries. He is scheduled to make $8.25 million this year and he has salaries ranging from $7.6 million to $8.75 million over the following three seasons.
The Redskins also would take a dead cap hit of $5.4 million if they trade Reed. That is the same hit that they would take if they released him, which is an option. Since they wouldn’t have to pay his salary, however, they would save a net of $4.9 million against the cap in either case.
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You can’t rule out the Redskins moving on if the cap gets tight. However, when Reed is healthy, he is one of the best in the game. They signed him to his current deal, a five-year, $46.75 million extension that kicked in this year, after his 2015 season, which was the best and, not coincidentally, healthiest of his career. Letting Reed go now would be a classic case of buying high and selling low.
It seems likely that the Redskins’ plan will be to work with Reed to get him back to good health for the 2018 season. They will take what they can get from him and then reevaluate in 2019 to decide if they want to continue the relationship. At that point, the dead cap hit would be down to $3.6 million and the net cap savings would be $6.1 million.
Reed will be just 28 next season and when he can play, he is a special talent. The Redskins would be well advised to be patient and risk moving on from him a year too late rather than doing something this year and take the chance that they will look back someday and see that they gave up too early.