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How Su'a Cravens was utilized as a rookie illustrates Joe Barry's faults

How Su'a Cravens was utilized as a rookie illustrates Joe Barry's faults

Su’a Cravens’ first season was filled with indecision about what position he would play, and while there were lots of reasons Joe Barry got fired, the rookie second-round pick's positioning may have played a role.

Late in the year, Cravens announced via Instagram he would play safety in 2017, despite spending nearly all of 2016 at inside linebacker. That decision came against Joe Barry’s will, per a source with knowledge of the situation, after months of resistance to the switch. 

Drafted in the second round, Cravens came to the 'Skins out of a hybrid safety/linebacker role at USC. Mike Mayock of gave the following analysis: "Cravens is an outside linebacker-safety hybrid. He's a really good matchup with pass-catching tight ends. They asked him to do a bunch of stuff at USC. This is a really solid second-round pick."

At Barry’s direction, Cravens started the season at inside linebacker and played the position exclusively. 

RELATED: Rex Ryan not likely to be a candidate for Redskins

Some within the organization wanted Cravens to play safety, but Barry insisted the rookie stay at inside linebacker. Eventually, a source explained, the decision to move Cravens to the secondary was made and Barry was forced to adjust. 

Though Cravens never played at safety for Washington, he was included with the secondary position group during practice at the tail end of the season. Should the ‘Skins have reached the playoffs, sources said Cravens would have played through his arm injury at safety.

Barry wasn’t wrong to want Cravens to learn the linebacker position. For a versatile player, he should know the calls and coverages of the defense. At the same time, the Redskins dealt with numerous injuries as well as some poor play at safety, and as the season progressed, multiple voices at Redskins Park wanted the rookie in the secondary.

Regardless, Cravens stayed at inside linebacker. That decision was not what got Barry fired, but it does show a repeated flaw of the former defensive coordinator. 

Early in the season Barry was slow to let Josh Norman travel to cover opposing team’s best receivers. Later in the year, Barry kept Kendall Fuller in the slot a few weeks too long. And for most of the season, Donte Whitner was a liability at safety. Either Cravens or second-year man Deshazor Everrett deserved a shot.

Liked by his players and most who know him, Barry displayed a continued reluctance to make personnel moves, and it might have been part of Jay Gruden's decision to move on. 


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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.