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Even if unlikely, Jason Hatcher retirement would be good news for Redskins

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Even if unlikely, Jason Hatcher retirement would be good news for Redskins

Jason Hatcher talked about the possibility of retirement after the Redskins season ended, and the reality is, despite Hatcher's strong veteran leadership, that would be good news for Washington.

With Kirk Cousins currently a free agent, and tight end Jordan Reed set for free agency next season, the Redskins need to free up as much salary cap space as possible, and Hatcher carries a big number. Contract info below via OverTheCap.com

The mammoth defensive tackle will turn 34 years old in July, and in two seasons with Washington, Hatcher's production has lagged way behind his salary. In two years with the 'Skins, Hatcher has started 27 of 32 possible games, notched 7.5 sacks and 32 tackles. 

Injuries have hampered Hatcher for much of his time in Washington, and frankly, that's to be expected with a player his size and age. Hatcher's sack production dropped from 5.5 sacks in 2014 to 2 sacks in 2016, despite being surrounded by better players on the defensive line. Further, in eight years with the Dallas Cowboys prior to signing a four-year, $27.5 million contract with the Skins in 2014, Hatcher only once grabbed more than 4.5 sacks, and that came in his contract year. That 2013 season Hatcher logged 11 sacks, a true outlier for a player that has just 34.5 sacks in his 10-year career. 

MORE REDSKINS: GALETTE'S RETUNR BOLSTERS DEFENSIVE FRONT 

Sacks are not the only metric worth assessing, and it is worth pointing out that Hatcher provides a strong leadership presence in the Redskins locker room. Just walk around after a game and it's clear "Hatch" has a commanding presence in the room, and the coaches and front office speak about Hatcher with respect.

When Jay Gruden first heard that Hatcher mentioned retirement, the coach was clear in his support.

"He’s a great leader. He’s a great player," Gruden said in January. "He’ll make a decision that’s right for him and his family obviously but we’d love to have him back. He’s a heck of a player and a force, not only on the field, but in the locker room."

At the Senior Bowl, GM Scot McCloughan was asked about Hatcher's possible retirement, "He’s one of those big time leaders, but he’s got to do what’s best for him."

What's best for Hatcher remains to be seen, but what's best for the Redskins would likely be retirement. If Hatcher decides to walk away from the game, the $8.7 million cap number for 2016 and $9.75 million for 2017 would come off the books, and that money could be important elsewhere. 

In comments during the NFL Scouting Combine, Gruden made it seem less likely Hatcher will retire.

"I think he’s learning towards playing," Gruden said. "We’ll have to wait and see. He’s put a lot of good years in. Body was a little bit beat up last year at the end of the year, but I think he’s starting to recover, feel a lot better so I think his mind will change a little bit as he gets closer to time to kick off."

An agreement could be reached between Hatcher and the Redskins to restructure, but that would still mean the 'Skins are paying an aging player for declining play. Generally, McCloughan works to avoid those situations.

Along the defensive front, Washington could be adding new players via the draft as well as the return of injured players Stephen Paea and Junior Galette. This year's NFL Scouting Combine revealed a lot of depth along the defensive line, and it could be a position to target for McCloughan.

Leadership is important, obviously, but so is cap space. Especially for a team trying to work a deal with their starting quarterback. 

 

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Need to Know: Five Redskins who must step up in 2018

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Need to Know: Five Redskins who must step up in 2018

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, February 25, 17 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

Five Redskins who will have to step up in 2018

Originally published 12/26/17

WR Josh Doctson—This list is in no particular order but if it was, Doctson would be right here at the top. The watchword for Doctson is consistency. He makes some incredible catches and then there are throws that he drops or doesn’t quite seem to make enough of an effort to catch. There is promise there. The first-round pick has shown his ability and his teammates say he has a chance to be elite. But the potential must translate into production on the field, week in and week out.  

RB Samaje Perine—There is plenty of chatter about the Redskins’ need to sign or draft a top running back. But a look at this team’s recent history tells us that they are unlikely to invest major assets in the position. That means that Perine, a fourth-round pick in 2017, will have to become a more consistent runner. It’s not all his fault that he hasn’t done much since he had back-to-back 100-yard games in Weeks 11-12; tough defense, offensive line issues, and game score situations have slowed his production. But he needs to be consistently productive in 2018 no matter who he lines up against.

CB Josh Norman—Unless he gets a pick against the Giants, he will go through the year without any interceptions. Sure, they don’t throw his way all that often and INT’s don’t give you the complete picture of his play. But a CB taking up $20 million in cap room needs to get a couple of picks almost by sheer accident. Norman battled some injury problems and if he wants to justify the final two years and $23 million of salary remaining on his contract, his age 30 2018 season needs to be more impactful.

OLB Preston Smith—The third-year player started strong, with at least half a sack in the first five games. And he’s finishing strong, with three sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble in the last two games. But in between, he had a total of just half a sack in eight games. This follows the pattern he displayed his first two years in the league of being dominant in some games and invisible in others. If he can develop some consistency in his 2018 contract year, he could cash in huge in free agency the following year.

Head coach Jay Gruden—Normally I only include players on lists like this one but if Gruden doesn’t do something to get the Redskins out of their near-.500 rut then nothing else will matter. He needs to change up something, whether it’s pushing the players hard in training camp or perhaps fine tuning his friendly approach to the players. Sure, better luck regarding injuries and a schedule that right now appears to be a bit less challenging will help. But Gruden needs to look at what he can change, too.

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

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 4
—NFL Draft (4/26) 60
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 196

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Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

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Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 24, 18 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

The five highest-paid Redskins in 2018

Originally published 1/12/18

This is how the five highest-paid Redskins per their 2018 salary cap numbers stack up as of now. The list could change, of course during free agency and if a particular quarterback returns. Cap numbers via Over the Cap.

CB Josh Norman, $17 million—The Redskins do have a window which would allow them to move on from Norman. His $13.5 million salary for this year doesn’t become guaranteed until the fifth day of the league year so it would be “only” a $9 million cap charge to move on from Norman, who turned 30 in December. Don’t look for that to happen but the possibility is there.

OT Trent Williams, $13.86 million—He is one of the best left tackles in the business. Those of you out there who have advocated moving him to left guard should look at this cap number, which is way out of line for what a team can afford to pay a guard. At his pay, he needs to be playing on the edge.

OLB Ryan Kerrigan, $12.45 million—He has delivered double-digit sacks in each of the two seasons that his contract extension has been in effect. That’s good value in a league that values the ability to get to the quarterback.

TE Jordan Reed, $10.14 million—The Redskins knew that he might have a year like last year when he played in only six games when they agreed to Reed’s five-year, $50 million extension. They can live with one such season. If he has another one in 2018 they may rethink things.

G Brandon Scherff, $6.75 million—The fact that a rookie contract is No. 5 on this list is a good sign that, as of now, the Redskins’ cap is not top heavy like it was last year. The top three cap hits from Norman, Williams, and Kirk Cousins totaled $59 million, which was about 35 percent of the cap. This year the total cap numbers of the top three come to $43.3 million, 24.3 percent of the estimated $178 million salary cap.

Next five: OT Morgan Moses ($5.4 million), TE Vernon Davis ($5.33 million), DL Stacy McGee ($4.8 million), DL Terrell McClain ($4.75 million), S D.J. Swearinger ($4.33 million)

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

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 5
—NFL Draft (4/26) 61
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 197