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Will the Redskins bring back WR Pierre Garçon in '16?

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Will the Redskins bring back WR Pierre Garçon in '16?

In less than a year, the Redskins completed a stunning turnaround, ascending from a laughingstock in 2014 to a division champion in 2015. But now comes the difficult part: taking that all-important next step and improving from a franchise that was fortunate to get into the playoffs to one that can do some damage once it gets there. And that work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players.

In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will examine the 25 biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

No. 9

Will the Redskins bring back Pierre Garçon?

Tandler: In a world where personnel decisions were made based solely on football criteria there would be no question that Pierre Garçon would return to the Redskins in 2016. He was second on the team with 72 receptions for 777 yards and six touchdowns. He made some clutch plays including a tough catch in the end zone for the game-winning touchdown against the Eagles. Garçon sets a great example for younger players in terms preparation and competitiveness.

But we don’t live in that on-field only world. It’s a salary capped world and money matters. Garçon’s 2016 cap number is $10.2 million. Only 12 wide receivers have a higher cap number this year and given that he represents a questionable value. His 72 receptions tied for 33rd in the NFL and the 777 receiving yards were 45th.

Will the Redskins get enough production out of Garçon in 2016 to justify the $10.2 million cap number or are they better off adding the $8 million savings from releasing him to their available cap space? The easy thing to say is save the $8 million, that’s a good chunk of cash. But it’s not that easy.

Who will replace those 777 receiving yards and six touchdowns? Ryan Grant or Rashad Ross? Certainly not this year, if ever. A draft pick? The draft is short on receiver prospects who can be productive as rookies and there is unlikely to be one available when the Redskins are on the clock with the 21st pick. The free agent class is thin and a receiver who can be as productive as Garçon will cost you at least a much as Garçon.

Sometimes you have to overpay to get what you need. I see Garçon playing out the last year of his contract while McCloughan drafts a mid round prospect or two for the coaches to groom as his successor.

El-Bashir: Let’s start with a little math. Garcon’s cap hit for 2016 is $10.2 million—or the 13th highest cap charge among all NFL wide receivers, according to spotrac.com. Last season, meanwhile, Garcon was tied for 29th in receiving touchdowns (6), tied for 33rd in receptions (72) and was 45th in yards (777).

So let’s see…13th highest cap charge next season in exchange for 33rd in receptions (and second on his own team to Jordan Reed’s 87). Something’s out of whack, right?

Based on the numbers above, it appears that the Redskins aren’t getting their money’s worth. Buuuuut ....different players have different values for different teams. And that's the situation the Redskins are confronted with when it comes to Garcon, I think. 

He’s a productive player and, at 29 years old, he's got another good year (or three) left in the tank if he stays healthy. He’s also exactly what GM scot McCloughan says he wants for the Redskins—a tough player who is passionate about the game and can be counted on in the clutch.

I don’t suspect Garcon would accept a pay cut because he knows that he'd easily get another big payday elsewhere. I also don’t think the Redskins would be able to get similar production from a reserve currently on the roster, a draft pick or a lower priced free agent. In fact, if McCloughan went into the market to sign a player comparable to Garcon, he’d probably end up spending a similar amount of money, while taking on a lot of uncertainties with regard to injury history, scheme/locker room fit, etc.

That’s a long-winded way of saying I agree with Tandler on this one. Garcon, indeed, comes with a hefty price tag. But his value to the Redskins—not to mention his importance to an emerging quarterback who needs weapons around him to succeed—I see Garcon playing at least one more season in Washington. 

25 Questions series

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In talking 2018 NFL draft, Doug Williams actually explained Redskins' free agency

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In talking 2018 NFL draft, Doug Williams actually explained Redskins' free agency

The Redskins spent modestly in 2018 free agency, and plenty of fans thought the team should have shelled out much bigger bucks. Talking with sources around the Ashburn facility, a prevaling notion became clear that the Washington brass believed they had a strong team in 2017, but they lost their chance to compete because of injuries. 

Well, the secret is out. Doug Williams said as much on Tuesday. 

"Coming out of Richmond last year, I liked this football team. I think we’ve got a tough football team, a smart football team. Some things you can’t control," Williams said Tuesday in a pre-draft media session. "We were very competitive up to a certain point, and when you have the injuries that we have, at a certain point, that competitive edge, you lose it because your best players are not playing."

Williams' words were true, and telling. 

First the true part:

  • In Washington's first five games of 2017, the team went 3-2. The Redskins only lost to eventual the Super Bowl champs Philadelphia and AFC West champs Kansas City. Washington only gave up more than 100 yards rushing once in those first five games, before rookie Jonathan Allen got hurt and the defense began to look much different. After Week 5, the Redskins only held one team under 100 yards rushing and finished the year dead last in rush defense.

Now the telling part:

  • The Redskins signed free agent WR Paul Richardson, and kept free agent LB Zach Brown. Beyond that, the team added inexpensive veterans in OLB Pernell McPhee and CB Orlando Scandrick. No splash moves, and recurring speculation that Washington was not offering top dollar to free agents. Bruce Allen acknowledged as much during NFL League Meetings when he explained that his team identified exactly how much they would offer free agents, their own and otherwise, and wouldn't go beyond that dollar figure. 

That means the focus of the offseason, at this point, is about this weekend's NFL Draft.

That also means the focus of the offseason, at this point, is not about Johnathan Hankins or any other free agent. 

"We’re going to deal with the draft now, and the second wave of free agents, if it’s somebody out there we feel like can help the Redskins,that’s what we’re going to do," Williams said. 

Throughout the offseason, Redskins fans wanted more action from their front office. It didn't happen, and Williams' basically explained why on Tuesday. The brass likes their team, and by default, expects better health and luck in 2018. 

When Williams talks about drafting the best player available, it's not just the typical NFL front office tripe. Right or wrong, the Redskins believe they have a team ready to compete in 2018, and any rookies that come in will only supplement that position.

"At the end of the day, I like this football team we’ve got. Like, last year when I walked out of camp, I thought we had a pretty good football team and I still feel the same way today," Williams said.

"At the end of the day, you get the best football player, and if that best football player is the guy that you want to plug and play, that’s all right. But if that’s the best football player that’s going to help your team overall, I think that’s the route you have to go."

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Doug Williams says Redskins will listen to draft trade offers but a trade up is unlikely

Doug Williams says Redskins will listen to draft trade offers but a trade up is unlikely

The Redskins aren’t in the quarterback business, so it’s highly unlikely that they will look to trade up in the first round of the draft on Thursday. But their phones will be open for business to move down. 

Speaking at the team’s pre-draft press conference, Doug Williams didn’t rule out trading up from the team’s first-round spot at 13thoverall but he doesn’t think it’s likely. 

“The chances of trading up might be a little slimmer than trading down,” he said. 

Williams said that the phones in the room will be ringing and that they will listen to any offers. But usually the team that wants to move up initiates the call and because the Redskins are set at one particular position they probably won’t pick up the phone. 

“If we were in the quarterback business, which is what this league is about, if we were in the heavy quarterback business we’d talk about moving up,” he said. “At this time, we can sit back and see what comes up if we stay at 13.”

The Redskins are set at quarterback after they traded their third-round pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller for veteran Alex Smith to replace the departed Kirk Cousins. Williams thinks that the Redskins already got good value from the pick. 

“When I think about Alex Smith, I say we got the best third-round pick in the draft,” he said. “I don't care what nobody says. You can't get a better third-round pick.”

Because they think they got a good player, albeit an older one, with that pick, the Redskins are not necessarily looking to make a deal to move back and recoup that pick on draft day. 

Williams emphasized that in order to move back, you have to have a team that wants to trade up. Often that is easier said than done. 

“They don’t just call you to ask you, they have to get a player that they want,” said Williams. “At that particular time, they’re afraid that somebody else might pick him. They might call you to ask you if you want to move back . . . If we move back, that’s because somebody called us to see if we want to move back.”

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.