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Redskins position preview: Defensive line

Redskins position preview: Defensive line

Over the next few weeks, Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will take another position-by-position look at the Redskins’ 2016 depth chart as the team enjoys some R&R ahead of training camp. Some positions are easy to handicap. Others are have moving parts and, thus, are more complex. This much, however, is not in question: A player is not on the 53-man roster until it's finalized in early September. So who’s in? And who’s in trouble?

Up today…

Position: Defensive line.

On the roster: Chris Baker, Corey Crawford, Kedric Golston, Ziggy Hood, Matt Ioannidis, Ricky Jean-Francois, Anthony Lanier, Trent Murphy, Stephen Paea, Jerrell Powe and Kendall Reyes.

Likely to make the 53: Baker, Golston, Jean-Francois, Paea, Reyes, Murphy and Ioannidis.

I’ve got seven D-linemen making the cut, but that number is not set in stone. The Redskins did, however, keep seven at the final cutdown each the past two seasons.

Baker is a lock to start and figures to lead all linemen in snaps again this season. As for the jobs vacated by Jason Hatcher and Terrance Knighton? Those will be claimed in Richmond.

I’d anticipate Golston, the longest tenured and oldest Redskins player at 33, to lock down a job. In OTAs and minicamp, he was the primary nose tackle, though some other position-flexible linemen rotated in (at a position that’s increasingly going the way of the fullback). On a hilarious side note, Golston recently was surprised with a customized burgundy and gold rocking chair left in front of his locker stall at Redskins Park.

I’d also expect Paea, Reyes and Jean Francois to compete for significant roles. How significant? The Week 1 pecking order will be determined in camp and the preseason.

Reyes, a newcomer to the group, and Jean-Francois, a reliable veteran and an emerging leader, each enjoyed a productive spring. Defensive coordinator Joe Barry has also said he’s got high hopes for Paea to bounce back from an uneven 2015. Paea told CSN recently that he’s healthy and much more comfortable in the scheme this year, his second in Washington. He did, however, miss the final two weeks of the offseason program while tending to a personal matter.   

Rounding out the unit will likely be Murphy, who’s transitioning from outside linebacker to end, and Ioannidis, a versatile fifth round rookie who’s getting up to speed.

Battling for a job: Hood, Lanier, Crawford and Powe.

Admittedly, this is a tough position to handicap after being permitted to watch only a handful of practices in shorts and helmets this spring. But we know this much: there doesn’t seem to be much wiggle room here, if any at all.

One player to keep an eye on is Hood, who, of course, has first round pedigree, having been selected by the Steelers 32nd overall in 2009. He’s bounced around the past few years, but the 29-year-old enjoyed a productive spring. Can he make a push in Richmond? We’ll see beginning July 28.

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The 2018 salaries of five Redskins become fully guaranteed today

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The 2018 salaries of five Redskins become fully guaranteed today

It may be the 18th of March but today could be like Christmas for five Redskins players.

The Redskins decided to use today, four days after the start of the league year, for some contract triggers. In this case, the triggers are all 2018 salary guarantees (some teams will pay out roster bonuses on trigger dates, but the Redskins rarely use that type of structure).

Here are the players whose have guarantees that kick in today 4 p.m. All data is via Over the Cap.


CB Josh Norman, base salary of $13.5 million becomes fully guaranteed—This was a window for the Redskins to move on from Norman if they were not happy with his performance after two seasons. He is 31 and he had no interceptions last season, leaving some to wonder if the Redskins might think about releasing him. But it never was a consideration.

TE Jordan Reed, $8 million of his $8.25 million salary becomes fully guaranteed—No, I’m not sure why they are leaving that $250,000 out there non-guaranteed. Fans thought that the Redskins might move on from Reed due to his injury issues. But, as with Norman, it never was a consideration.

S D.J. Swearinger, $3 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed—This is a mere technicality, Swearinger wasn’t going anywhere after helping to solidify the safety position.


RB Chris Thompson, $1.996 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed—His rehab is going well and after last year Thompson’s two-year, $7 million contract extension signed last September looks like a good deal for the team.

DE Terrell McClain, $3.25 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed—If the Redskins sign a top free agent D-lineman or draft on early in the draft they could be in a numbers crunch. That new acquisition would be guaranteed a roster spot along with Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, Stacy McGee, and Anthony Lanier. That makes five and the Redskins kept six last year. Ziggy Hood is a favorite of the coaching staff but he has no guaranteed money left on his contract. That could tip the sixth spot in favor of McClain if he is on the roster at the close of business today. If they release McClain after today, they would take a cap charge of over $2 million. It seems unlikely that anything will happen but it’s something to keep an eye on.

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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Need to Know: Looking ahead—Key Redskins 2019 free agents

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Need to Know: Looking ahead—Key Redskins 2019 free agents

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, March 18, 39 days before the NFL draft.  

Looking at next year’s free agents

There is still work that the Redskins can do in free agency and they still have some of their own players they want to retain. But with a lot of the player movement already in the books, we can take a look forward some of the key Redskin who currently are set to be free agents when the 2019 league year opens.

Note: I’m not including Brandon Scherff here because the team has a fifth-year option on him that they surely will activate before the May 2 deadline.

QB Colt McCoy (Week 1 age 32)—Lots of questions here. Will the Redskins want to keep him around for another year as Alex Smith’s backup? Or will they want a younger and cheaper backup? Will McCoy want to move on rather than back up another QB who doesn’t miss many games?

OL Ty Nsekhe (32)—The Redskins gave him a second-round restricted free agent tender this year so it’s possible that he could be gone or on a long-term contract in Washington. If he is a free agent, his value and the difficulty of retaining him could depend on if he ends the season as a reserve tackle (easy) or as a starting guard (hard).

OLB Preston Smith (25)—As we saw with Trent Murphy (three years, $21 million with up to $30 million), pass rushers get paid. Smith also makes big plays. Since Smith came into the NFL, he is the only player with at least 20 sacks, 3 interceptions, and 4 forced fumbles. If the Redskins can’t reach a deal on an extension with him this year the franchise tag is a distinct possibility.

WR Jamison Crowder (25)—This year the supply of quality receivers both as free agents and in the draft sent contract prices skyrocketing. To guard against that happening next year, the Redskin should start talking to Crowder about an extension soon.

ILB Zach Vigil (27)—As I noted here, Vigil went from being cut in September to a very valuable reserve in November. Both Zach Brown and Mason Foster will still be under contract, but the Redskin still should make an effort to retain Vigil for special teams and as a capable backup.

Other Redskins who are slated to be UFA’s next year are DL Ziggy Hood and ILB Martrell Spaight.

It’s also worth noting that WR Maurice Harris and DE Anthony Lanier will both be restricted free agents next year. Both positions were pricey in free agency this year, so both could require at least second-round tenders, which likely will increase to about $3 million in 2019.

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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Regarding the reported visit of defensive lineman Jonathan Hankins with the Redskins:


Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 29
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 131
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 175

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