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Need to Know: The Redskins' pre-free agency to-do list

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Need to Know: The Redskins' pre-free agency to-do list

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, March 7, seven days before NFL free agency starts.  

Things the Redskins have to get done before free agency

Now that the tag deadline has passed and the Redskins can move on from the silly notion of pulling off a Kirk Cousins tag and trade, it is time to focus on what they need to do between now and March 14 at 4 p.m. when the league year starts. Here are a few items that should be on their to-do list.

Make a push to extend Brandon Scherff—Sure, he’s not a free agent for another two years. But he will take up a good chunk of cap space both immediately and for the duration of the contract. Having cost certainty with one of your best young players is important. A number to ponder—it likely will cost nearly $16 million to franchise tag Scherff if they don’t reach an extension in time for the 2020 season.

Make a push to extend Preston Smith—This is perhaps a more urgent matter than getting Scherff extended. Smith will be a free agent a year from now if nothing is done and, in general, pass rushers are harder to find than guards. Again, cost certainty in the short and long term are key factors.

Gauge the chances of signing Zach Brown—OK, the “legal tampering” period doesn’t start until Monday. But Brown’s agent went to the combine and he has a very good feel for what his client can get in the open market. The Redskins should get into some serious negotiating and either sign him before he hits the market or let him walk and work on signing his replacement (Anthony Hitchens, anyone?).

Take a long, hard look at Josh Norman—I don’t think that the Redskins will end up moving on from Norman before his salary becomes guaranteed shortly after the start of the league year, but they can’t let the deadline pass without at least having a serious discussion about it. He crossed over to the wrong side of 30 last December and he had zero interceptions last year. It’s hard for a corner who plays nearly every snap to fail to stumble into one or two. To be sure, interceptions aren’t everything and Norman would be hard to replace. But with a possible savings of $14 million in cash and nearly $8 million in cap space in play, the organization has to take one last, long look before committing.

Choose between Junior Galette and Trent Murphy—They probably already have done this but as with Norman they need to take one last look. It is important for them to hold on to at least one of their reserve edge rushers. Although the organization remains hopeful that Ryan Anderson can develop into an effective edge rusher, it’s hard to rely on a player who had zero sacks as a rookie to be your primary backup at outside LB.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 40
—NFL Draft (4/26) 50
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 186

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Good news Redskins fans: Jason Pierre-Paul shipped out of NFC East


Good news Redskins fans: Jason Pierre-Paul shipped out of NFC East

The Giants shipped out Jason Pierre-Paul for life as a Buccaneer, and in turn, Tampa will send a third and fourth round draft pick to New York.

Moving Pierre-Paul comes at a curious time for the Giants. The team will eat $15 million of dead money in the move, and New York also sent a fourth-round pick to Tampa as part of the transaction. 

What it definitely signals is that Big Blue looks to be moving from a 4-3 base defense to a 3-4 look. Additionally, with the second overall pick in the NFL Draft in April, maybe the Giants will seriously look at NC State defensive lineman Bradley Chubb. 


For the Redskins, seeing Pierre-Paul leave the NFC East is welcome news. He has 12.5 career sacks against Washington QBs, the same amount he has against the Eagles and Cowboys combined. 

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Looking at the details of Zach Brown's contract with the Redskins

Looking at the details of Zach Brown's contract with the Redskins

The Redskins and linebacker Zach Brown agreed to a three-year contract that will require Brown to continue to play at a high level if he is going to collect all of the $21 million the deal contains.

Brown’s camp reportedly was shopping for a contract that had some $20 million in guaranteed money. The actual deal fell well short of that.

Brown, who was leading the league in tackles before an assortment of injuries forced him to sit out the last three games, got a total of $5.5 million in fully guaranteed money. He got a $4.5 million signing bonus and his $1 million salary for 2018 is fully guaranteed.


After that, the remaining two seasons essentially are team options. In 2019 he has a $6.75 million salary and $4.5 million of that is guaranteed for injury. His 2020 salary is $7.5 million with no guarantees of any kind.

The contract also has per-game roster bonuses available at a rate of $15,625 for each game he is on the 46-man game day roster in 2018 (total of $250,000 for the year) and $31,250 per game in 2019 and 2020 ($500,000 total).

The salary cap hits per year are as follows:

2018: $2.75 million
2019: $8.75 million
2020: $9.5 million

The average annual value of $7 million ranks ninth among inside linebackers.

Brown will need to continue to play well to collect on the contract. The team will be able to save $5.75 million on the 2019 cap if they terminate the deal after one season and $8 million if they do it in 2020.


Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.