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Need to Know: Five early thoughts on Redskins vs. Dolphins


Need to Know: Five early thoughts on Redskins vs. Dolphins

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, September 4, one day before the Washington Redskins make their final cuts.

Five early thoughts on Redskins vs. Dolphins

The preseason is officially over and the next time the Redskins take the field it will count. Here are some thoughts on Redskins’ opponent for their opener, the Miami Dolphins

—Remember the 2013, when Robert Griffin III was so bad he was deactivated for the last three games? Well, you could take his numbers from that year, project them over 16 games, throw them into Ryan Tannehill’s career, and you’d never know the difference. The reasons Griffin is benched and on the roster bubble and Tannehill just got an extension worth $96 million is that Tannehill has been durable, never missing a start, and he has improved in most major areas from year to year in each of his three seasons. He’s not a guy to be scared of necessarily but he is a competent NFL QB.

—The line that will protect Tannehill is very much in flux. They likely will be starting a rookie right guard in Jamil Douglas, and may be without left tackle Brandon Albert, who is still recovering from a knee injury he suffered last November. With a shaky secondary the Redskins’ ability to get pressure on the passer will determine in large part how well they defend the pass. A shuffled Dolphins offensive line could help.

—Welcome to the NFL, Brandon Scherff. You get to line up against Ndamukong Suh in your first official game. The fifth overall pick has struggled with his technique all summer and he will have to play well to keep Kirk Cousins upright. It seems likely that he will get some help from center Kory Lichtensteiger. At right tackle, Morgan Moses will have his hands full with left end Cameron Wake.

—Like the Redskins, the Dolphins are kind of scrambling at safety. They lost Louis Delmas for the year earlier and the competition to replace him is ongoing. They could be like the Redskins in that if the pass rush doesn’t hit home the defensive backs will be vulnerable. Kirk Cousins has shown a good knack for being able to evade pressure in the pocket; if he can do it for four quarters on September 13 he could have a chance to make some plays.

—This game offers the Redskins a chance to change the negative vibe that has surrounded the team in the past couple of weeks. With a win the Redskins would do a lot to push aside “I feel like I’m the best QB”, concussion clearance-then-reversal, “I just work here, man”, intern Instagram likes, QB controversy, the GM’s wife’s tweets, and whatever else might pop up between now and game time. The Dolphins will be favored by about a field goal but if Scot McCloughan’s work over the offseason has truly improved the team to a significant extent this is a winnable game for Washington.


Today’s schedule: Off day, no availability

—It’s been 250 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 9 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Final cuts 1 Rams @ Redskins 16; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 20

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Redskins guarantee Alex Smith a whopping $71 million in new contract

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Redskins guarantee Alex Smith a whopping $71 million in new contract

When the Redskins traded for Alex Smith on January 30, news also broke that he had agreed to a four-year extension with Washington in addition to the one year left on his contract with the Chiefs. While we got some top-line numbers on the deal, we have gone since then without any details.

Until now.

The details show a deal that has a slightly higher cap hit in 2018 than was on his original Chiefs contract and the numbers rise gradually over the life of the deal, which runs through 2022. The top line numbers are five years, $111 million, an average annual value of $22.2 million per year. 


Smith got a $27 million signing bonus and his salaries for 2018 ($13 million) and 2019 ($15 million) also are fully guaranteed at signing making the total $55 million (information via Over the Cap, which got data from a report by Albert Breer).

But there is another $16 million that is guaranteed for all practical purposes. On the fifth day of the 2019 league year, his 2020 salary of $16 million becomes fully guaranteed. He almost assuredly will get to the point where that money will become guaranteed since the Redskins are not going to cut him after one year having invested $55 million in him. So the total guarantees come to $71 million.

His 2021 salary is $19 million and it goes up to $21 million in 2022. There have been reports of some incentives available to Smith, but since we have no details, we’ll set those aside for now.

The cap hits on the contract are as follows:

2018: $18.4 million
2019: $20.0 million
2020: $21.4 million
2021: $24.4 million
2022: $26.4 million

The Redskins can realistically move on from Smith after 2020. There would be net cap savings of $13 million in 2021 and $21 million in 2022.

The first impression of the deal is that the Redskins did not move on from Kirk Cousins because they didn’t want to guarantee a lot of money to a quarterback. The total practical guarantee of $71 million is second only to Cousins’ $82.5 million. It should be noted that Cousins’ deal runs for three years and Smith’s contract is for five.


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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Three Monday visitors to Redskins Park could determine team's free agency strategy going forward

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Three Monday visitors to Redskins Park could determine team's free agency strategy going forward

The Redskins are having three visitors today in Ashburn. Depending on how they go, they could mostly be done with free agency or still pushing to fill some needs.

They have been making an effort to hire one of the top defensive linemen on the market since before free agency actually started. They had former Jet Muhammad Wilkerson in for a visit last Tuesday, something they could do because Wilkerson had been released. The team put on a good sales push that lasted most of the day, but Wilkerson left without a deal. Shortly after he left he decided to sign with the Packers.

They made runs at Dontari Poe and Sheldon Richardson, but they signed with the Panthers and Vikings, respectively. The prospects were looking slim until the Colts decided to cut Jonathan Hankins on Saturday. He weighs 320 pounds and turned 25 on January 1. Hankins probably isn’t going to make any All-Pro teams or post double-digit sacks, but he will help you stop the run for the next half-decade, at least. In case you haven’t noticed, that’s the Redskins’ biggest defensive problem for the last several seasons.


Hankins is visiting today and he is someone the Redskins would very much like to sign. The other two visitors may be fallback plans.

Cornerback Orlando Scandrick is a veteran who can play in the slot. That is what the Redskins are looking for but Scandrick does not appear to be their first choice. Last week they had former Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in for an extended visit that included a physical. However, they could not come together on money. Scandrick, who has missed time with injuries in each of the last two years, could be an alternative to Rodgers-Cromartie or it could be that he is being used to put some pressure on the Redskins’ preferred choice.

Edge rusher Pernell McPhee is also clearly a second choice. The Redskins have an offer on the table for Junior Galette to return. He tweeted yesterday that the Redskins were the best fit for him but that the money “has to be fair.”

McPhee has played well but injuries have limited his impact the last two years. He started the 2016 season on injured reserve with a knee injury and he missed a total of seven games. Last year he missed three games with shoulder and knee injuries.


The Redskins likely are interested in McPhee for the right price. That price is considerably less than the $7 million he was going to make from the Bears this year before they let him go on February 26. There does not seem to be a hot market for his services; he has been a free agent for three and a half weeks and this is his first reported visit.

The Redskins would rather bring back Galette, who was much more effective as a pass rusher last year than his three sacks would indicate. But the price has to be right for both sides and apparently there is some work to be done towards working that out.

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.