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Redskins Playbook: Bye week could present opportunity to talk Zach Brown extension

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Redskins Playbook: Bye week could present opportunity to talk Zach Brown extension

For the purpose of this article, table the entire contract saga between Kirk Cousins and the Redskins. For the next few hundred words, erase that annual circus.

With that clean slate, consider this: The Redskins rank as one of the top clubs at keeping their own players. 

In most cases, the Washington front office locks up players they determine to be "core Redskins" well before those individuals hit free agency. 

Don't believe it? 

Chris Thompson and Morgan Moses got long-term deals done this offseason, a year prior to free agency. Jordan Reed got his deal done in 2016, a year before he would have hit free agency. 

Trent Williams. Ryan Kerrigan. Both got lucrative extensions with the club before they hit free agency. 

The team got an extension done with Vernon Davis almost immediately after the 2016 season, making sure to keep the veteran backup tight end in Washington before free agency opened. 

The Redskins have set a precedent: If they want you to stay in Burgundy and Gold, they will get a deal done. 

And it's time for the Redskins to try that avenue again. 

Plenty of credit belongs to plenty of people for the resurgent Washington defense. New coordinator Greg Manusky has instilled confidence and an aggressive attitude. Jim Tomsula has overhauled the defensive line. Torrian Gray speaks to his secondary in their language, earning their trust, far more than his predecesor Perry Fewell had. 

Players, too, deserve a lot of credit. 

Rookie Jonathan Allen and Matt Ioannidis have become a highly productive duo up front. Preston Smith is playing the best football of this career, and Ryan Kerrigan remains a stout pass rusher. D.J. Swearinger has brought swagger, communication and leadership to the back end of the defense. 

With all that credit going around, one player still stands out. That's Zach Brown. 

Through four games, Brown leads the NFL with 42 tackles. He's missed one snap this season, and his lateral speed shows up week after week. 

In Kansas City, Brown chased down rookie phenom running back Kareem Hunt as he raced for the end zone. Through three games in the NFL, nobody had caught Hunt in that situation. Brown did, and 70,000 plus fans at Arrowhead, not to mention Hunt, seemed shocked.

The only problem for the Redskins as it pertains to Brown: the linebacker is playing on a one-year deal. In 2018, he's a free agent. 

If Bruce Allen and the Washington front office wanted to try and work out an in-season contract extension, the bye week presents a perfect opportunity. It would give Brown some security with 12 games still remaining this season, and the week off would be a reasonable time to try and begin those conversations with Brown and his representatives.

It helps that Brown is from Columbia, Md., and seems to like the comforts of being close to home. He's already gone back to his hometown to watch a high school football game at his alma mater, Wilde Lake, and has plenty of family and friends in the area. 

Agents around the NFL were impressed how the Redskins handled Moses' contract extension. The team recognized a hard worker, and a player that showed tremendous growth, and rewarded him for that. It helped, too, that the team compensated Moses greatly and the process went on behind closed doors. No news came out until the contract was signed. 

The sample size is much shorter, but with Brown, his impact is obvious through four games. His speed commands attention, and he makes sure tackles and big hits. 

Ultimately, this will be about money. Everything is about money. 

Last season, Brown finished second in the NFL in tackles, behind only Seattle's Bobby Wagner. 

Wagner is making $7.6 million this year, and has two years left on his deal worth a guaranteed $20 million. 

Brown is making $2.5 million this season. Nothing is guaranteed next year, or beyond. 

It would make sense that Brown wants to be paid among the top four or five inside linebackers in the game, as he's performed at that level. That would mean somewhere between the $8.75 million a year Brian Cushing makes and the $12.3 million Luke Kuechly makes. 

If he continues to play at a high level, like he did last season in Buffalo and has so far this year in D.C., Brown will get paid in free agency. His market was cool this past offseason, as the sixth-year draft pick had only produced at a Pro Bowl caliber level for one season. 

If he does it again, the cash will follow. 

If the Redskins want to keep Brown in Burgundy and Gold, maybe now is the time to start talking. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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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

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Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

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Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

A 2017 midseason trade for Martavis Bryant made no sense for the Redskins. A 2018 offseason trade for Martavis Bryant, however, might make sense for the Redskins. 

Bryant is on the trade block, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, and will be an intriguing prospect for receiver-needy teams across the NFL. In parts of three seasons with the Steelers, Bryant has 17 touchdowns and a 15.2 yards-per-reception average. 

A big play threat from any place on the field, Bryant would immediately make the Redskins receiving unit more athletic and explosive. 

It's not all good news with Bryant, though.

He was suspended for the entire 2016 season after repeated drug violations and caused some distraction for Pittsburgh during the 2017 season when he asked for a trade via social media. 

MORE: CAN YOU GUESS THESE REDSKINS BASED ON THEIR COMBINE NUMBERS?

Is the talent enough to overcome the off-field distractions? Many would say it is. 

Last year, in just eight starts, Bryant grabbed 50 catches for more than 600 yards and three TDs. In their lone playoff loss to the Jaguars, Bryant caught two passes for 78 yards and a TD. 

Remember, too, the Steelers have an explosive offense, and Bryant is coupled with Antonio Brown on the receiver front along with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback and Le'Veon Bell at running back. The Pittsburgh offense is loaded. 

Washington's offense is not nearly the prolific unit that the Steelers send out, but Jay Gruden does design a good offense. 

The real question surrounding any talk of trading for Bryant is the cost.

The Redskins are not in a position to send away any more draft picks this offseason after giving up a third-round pick, in addition to Kendall Fuller, to acquire Alex Smith. Bruce Allen and the Redskins front office need to improve their team in plenty of spots, and the team's draft picks are quite valuable. 

Bryant only has one year remaining on his rookie deal, and it's hard to balance that sort of short-term investment with the value of adding a rookie committed to the team for at least four years. Perhaps a late-round pick would make sense, but it would need to be a sixth-rounder. 

This could be one of those rare situations in the NFL where a player for player swap could work, though pulling that type of maneuver requires a lot of moving parts. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!