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Need to Know: Will the Redskins build the lines first?

Need to Know: Will the Redskins build the lines first?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, January 20, 100 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock for the first round of the NFL draft.

Question of the day

We’re changing up the format of Need to Know for the offseason. Every day I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

Today’s question is from Twitter:

The Redskins certainly need improvement on both their offensive and defensive lines. While I don’t think the offensive line was as bad as popular fan perception would have you believe—many sacks were due to quarterbacks hanging on to the ball for too long—it still needs an upgrade for the Redskins to become a quality team. And part of the defensive line is aging (Stephen Bowen, Barry Cofield, Jason Hatcher) while the younger part is just OK at best (Chris Baker, Jarvis Jenkins). Again, not championship quality. In addition, Scot McCloughan puts a high value on size for the line and both sides of the ball will have to get bigger players, most notably the offensive line.

But just because it’s a big need that doesn’t mean that you necessarily address it first or put most of your resources into it this year (that’s how I’m interpreting “mainly focus”) if you are building through the draft. You don’t have any control over who is on the board when your pick comes up. If you’re “focusing” on the line, you’re going to reach and not take the best graded player available.

And that’s what Scot McCloughan is going to do. It should be noted that need does factor into the grades so there will be something of a bias towards players in positions of need. But if there are a lot of highly graded secondary players on the board when the Redskins draft, McCloughan could well go in that direction.

The object in rebuilding through the draft is not to build up one area and then move on to other areas. The idea is to get the best players you can, no matter where they play.

In the short term you might end up with some units that are too thin and some others that have great depth. But if you stick with the process as teams like McCloughan’s past employers, the Packers, Seahawks, and 49ers have you can end up with a pretty good team. If you reach in the draft in the hope of shoring up one particular area of the team you will end up not fixing anything at all.


—It’s been 23 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 236 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 30; NFL free agency starts 49; 2015 NFL Draft 100

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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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.