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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. 

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