Redskins

Quick Links

Smoot and Arrington

199319.jpg

Smoot and Arrington

You can reach me by email at rtandler@comcast.net

Rich Tandler is the author of Gut Check, The Complete History of Coach Joe Gibbs’ Washington Redskins.

Gibbs: Franchise Tag “Up in the Air”

At the beginning of a two-week window for teams to designate any of their free agents as franchise players, Joe Gibbs said that the Redskins were still undecided about using the tag on any of their free agents. Gibbs quoted in a Washington Post article:: We're still not sure exactly what were going to do there. Right now, it's pretty much up in the air. What happens is you work really hard on all of your free agent guys and try to get in position to get them signed, it's just moving slow. . . . We're working extremely hard on it, it's just so sensitive right now with some of them. I think we're getting closer, but you're always nervous about it because you don't have it done.

The Redskins have two free agents that they would very much like to get deals with before the signing period starts on March 3, cornerback Fred Smoot and linebacker Antonio Pierce. There were reports during the middle of the season that negotiations with both of them were going smoothly, but neither player has put his signature on a contract.

It appears virtually certain that the Redskins will let Smoot test the open market. They aren’t willing to give him the guaranteed money he’s looking for and, since Smoot would likely just play under the franchise tender, they can’t afford to tag him.

The Redskins have long been at an impasse with Smoot over the size of his signing bonus, and there is a sense among many at Redskins Park that he will depart as a free agent. . . . A franchise player must be offered a one-year deal equal to the average of the top five salaries at that position. Under that scenario, Smoot would receive $8.8 million, but Washington is only about $4 million under the salary cap and former starting cornerback Walt Harris is already signed. That last part should make Redskins fans particularly uncomfortable. Yes, Harris was a full-time starter for the Bears from 1996-2001 and for the Colts in ’02 and ’03. Still, he may be shaky as a starter in Gregg Williams’ blitz-happy defense.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the Redskins should overpay to keep Smoot. They probably won’t make a “final” offer; the smart thing to do would be to keep their last one on the table and ask that Smoot give them a chance counter any offer he gets from another team. Let him go out, get his best deal, and let the Redskins see if it’s reasonable to match it.

There is still a chance that the Redskins will be able to sign Pierce before he becomes an unrestricted free agent, but that chance gets slimmer by the day. It would cost $5.9 million against the cap to tag him, so that’s not a very good option, either.

Arrington

Another covered LaVar Arrington’s rehab from a knee injury that cost him the last 12 games of the season:

The Washington Redskins have been encouraged by the progress of linebacker LaVar Arrington in the last week, director of sports medicine Bubba Tyer said yesterday, and believe he is making strides toward fully recovering from a series of right knee problems that forced him to miss 12 games last season.Gibbs had hinted at his press conference last Monday that Arrington might need another surgical procedure on the knee, but it now appears that his progress is such that it will not be necessary. Arrington will be evaluated next week to make the final determination.

Lavar Arrington wants to be ready for minicamp

There continues to be some dumb talk about trading Arrington that needs to be addressed here. Such talk is dumb for two reasons. The first, and the one that makes the second moot, is the $17 million cap hit the team would take for cutting Arrington. This was address in the Randy Moss discussion, so there’s no point in rehashing that.

There are some out there, however, who are saying that the Redskins should just accept the cap consequences and get some value for Arrington because the defense played well without him last year. There are also those who are saying that This line of “reasoning” is almost as laughable as ignorance of the cap hit.

The Washington defense ranked third in the NFL in terms of yards gained. That’s a nice accomplishment, but it wasn’t the third-best defense in the league. Besides Buffalo and Pittsburgh, the two teams that finished ahead of the Skins in terms of yards, Philadelphia and Baltimore were clearly more dominant defensively than Washington as was New England. Twenty-one other defense forced more turnovers and those make up for a lot of difference in terms of yards allowed.

The 2004 Redskins defense often was good but rarely dominant and didn’t make many big plays. There is room for improvement and a player of Arrington’s caliber can help provide that improvement. At his best, he can wreak havoc on an opposing offense; at his worst, he’s a major upgrade over Lamar Marshall.

Stop the madness—no more Arrington trade talk!

Quick Links

Need to Know: How many starters are left from the Redskins' last playoff game?

redskins-packers_playoffs_2016_usat.png
USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: How many starters are left from the Redskins' last playoff game?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, January 19, 54 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 46
—NFL Draft (4/26) 97
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 233

Things change quickly

Two years ago today, the Redskins were in the process of picking up the pieces after their 35-18 home loss to the Packers in the wild-card round of the 2015 season playoffs. How many of the 22 players who started that game for Washington are still with the team? You may be surprised to find out just how few are likely to be with the Redskins when the season opens in September.

Offense:

WR DeSean Jackson—Signed with the Bucs as a free agent last year.
WR Pierre Garçon—Signed with 49ers as a free agent last year.
WR Jamison Crowder—Still with the Redskins
TE Jordan Reed—Still with the Redskins
LT Trent Williams—Still with the Redskins
LG Spencer Long—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
C Kory Lichtensteiger—Retired following the 2016 season
RG Brandon Scherff—Still with the Redskins
RT Morgan Moses—Still with the Redskins
RB Alfred Morris—Signed with the Cowboys as a free agent in 2016
QB Kirk Cousins—Set to be a UFA, you know the story here

Of the 11 offensive starters, five are still with the team, one has retired, three are employed by other teams, and two are headed into free agency. The chances of either Long or Cousins returning currently hover under 50 percent, although things can change.

Defense:

DE Chris Baker—Signed with the Bucs as a free agent last year.
DE Jason Hatcher—Retired following the 2015 season
NT Terrance Knighton—Signed with the Patriots following the 2015 season but was cut and he hasn’t played and subsequently retired
ILB Will Compton—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
ILB Mason Foster—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
OLB Ryan Kerrigan—Still with the Redskins
OLB Trent Murphy—Spent 2017 in injured reserve, set to be an unrestricted free agent
CB Bashaud Breeland—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
CB Will Blackmon—Released last September, currently unsigned
S DeAngelo Hall—Set to be an unrestricted free agent, likely to retire
S Dashon Goldson—Released after 2015 season, currently unsigned

Only one starter, Ryan Kerrigan, is under contract for 2018. Of the free agents, Breeland is likely to depart and things are up in the air regarding Foster, Compton, and Murphy.

To sum it up, out of 22 starters in that game played 740 days ago, only six are certain to be with the team in 2018 while nine have either signed elsewhere, spent 2017 out of football, or have retired (10 if you count Hall).

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.

Tandler on Twitter

In case you missed it

Quick Links

Looking at cheap, reasonable and expensive wide receiver scenarios for Redskins

Looking at cheap, reasonable and expensive wide receiver scenarios for Redskins

Most NFL teams usually carry at least six wide receivers, but going into the 2018 season, only Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson, Maurice Harris and Robert Davis hold signed contracts with the Redskins.

That means Washington must consider adding receiver help via free agency, especially considering Harris and Davis rarely played in 2017. Terrelle Pryor and Ryan Grant both played with the Burgundy and Gold in 2017, and while Grant has a solid chance to return, it would seem Pryor will head elsewhere after a disappointing season in D.C. 

Like every year, a number of receivers will be available via free agency, but what guys make sense for Jay Gruden's team? Let's take a look at three different scenarios, knowing Washington likely needs to add at least one free agent wideout. 

RELATED: MOCK DRAFTS LINKING 'SKINS TO BAKER MAYFIELD

  • Expensive: Jags WR Allen Robinson - A second-round pick in 2014, Robinson posted a 1,400-yard season in 2015 and has shown the ability to be a true No. 1 wideout in the NFL. He's 6-foot-3 with speed and leaping ability. In 2016, his numbers dipped to less than 900 yards receiving, but that season the Jacksonville QB Blake Bortles struggled significantly. Here's the thing: Robinson blew out his knee in the NFL opener in 2017, and that might make his price tag drop a bit. Word is the former Penn State star should be fully cleared by early March from the injury, and just 24 years old, he will be intriguing. Washington showed they would spend for a wideout in 2017 with the Pryor signing, but they did so on a one-year deal. If Robinson finds the free agent market not as robust as he wants, maybe a similar short-term deal could be reached?
  • Reasonable: Colts WR Donte Moncrief - A third-round pick in 2014, Moncrief also had a big sophomore season in 2015. He grabbed 64 catches for 733 yards and six touchdowns. That was his only full 16-game season, as injuries have continued to be an issue for the 6-foot-2, 220 lbs. wideout out of Ole Miss. In 2016, only playing in nine games, he still contributed with seven touchdowns. In 2017, his numbers slipped big-time, and he posted less than 400 yards receiving in 12 games. Moncrief's problem isn't talent, it's health. That means he could be relatively cheap, and at just 24 years old, that contract might bring a strong return. 
  • Wild Card: Jets WR Eric Decker -  The Redskins have lacked a true veteran wideout since DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon left the team following the 2016 season. Decker will turn 31 in March and would give Washington a different presence in the WR meeting room. He posted two 1,000 yard seasons playing with Peyton Manning in Denver and went to the Super Bowl in 2013. In 2015, while teamed up with Ryan Fitzpatrick playing for the Jets, Decker again hit the 1,000-yard mark and hit the end zone 12 times. Throughout his career, Decker has been a solid red zone threat and has shown the ability to win on tough routes. He will need to take a big pay cut from the $4.5 million, one-year deal he signed in Tennessee in 2017, but that has to be expected considering his paltry production. In 16 games with the Titans, Decker logged 563 yards and only one TD. Decker might make sense, though the cost would need to be low. 

There are plenty of other names to watch, guys like Seattle's Paul Richardson or Buffalo's Jordan Matthews. Free agency opens in mid-March, and some connections between the Redskins and wideouts will start prior to that.

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!