We are close to the start of the NFL free agent signing period (well, 4 p.m. tomorrow is supposed to be the start of it, anyway) it seems like a piece of unfinished business hanging out there for the Redskins. Ryan Kerrigan, the team’s best defensive player, is going to play in 2015 on a team option that will pay him about $7 million. As of now he will be a free agent in 2016. There has been talk about getting him an extension that would keep him in Washington for what should be his prime seasons.
Perhaps one holdup to getting a deal done with Kerrigan has been a lack of comparable contracts for edge pass rushers to help determine his worth. We now have a couple of deals done and they are pretty good news for Kerrigan.
Early this morning Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes re-signed with Buffalo. According to reports his five-year contract is worth $45 million and $20 million is guaranteed.
In 2014 Hughes posted his second consecutive year with 10 sacks. But prior to that he was relatively quiet as a pass rusher. Hughes was a first-round pick of the Colts in 2010 and he posted just five sacks in three years there. At age 26 he has found the right scheme and seems to have figured things out.
Hughes made plays beyond just getting sacks. He forced three fumbles and returned one fumble for a touchdown.
Also agreeing to terms this morning was soon-to-be ex-Ravens linebacker Pernell McPhee. He has a handshake agreement (figuratively speaking; players can’t even talk to other teams before tomorrow, much less shake hands with them) from the Bears that will be worth $40 million over eight years with $16 million guaranteed.
What McPhee got clearly a cut below what Hughes got and the numbers on the contracts reflect the numbers on the field. McPhee, 27, has 17 sacks in four years in the NFL. He posted a career high of 7.5 last year and that plus his solid all-round play made him a desired free agent commodity. There was a report that the Redskins were among the teams that were interested.
Going off of the numbers, Kerrigan is clearly a cut above both McPhee and Hughes. Kerrigan has 38 career sacks compared to 25 for Hughes, who has been in the league a year longer, and 17 for McPhee. Kerrigan also has an edge in interceptions, and forced fumbles over the other two.
That would indicate that Kerrigan, who will be 27 before the season starts, should get a higher annual average and more guaranteed money than Hughes got. The Redskins should start the negotiations at a $10 million annual average and around $22 million guaranteed and work it from there. The may have to be prepared to go to close to $12 million per year. But if the cap continues to expand the way it has over the past couple of years that won’t be an outrageous amount to pay for a players who is both a good pass rusher and a solid citizen.