The Redskins report to training camp on July 24th, and for the next 10 days, JP Finlay will count down the 10 biggest questions the Redskins face going into the 2019 season.
When a team picks in the Top 10 of the NFL Draft, folks around the NFL expect that player to become a Pro Bowler. For Washington, that exact scenario unfolded with right guard Brandon Scherff.
Selected fifth overall in 2015, the Redskins took Scherff to play right tackle and anchor the offensive line opposite Trent Williams. That idea quickly faded, helped by the emergence of Morgan Moses, and Scherff moved inside to play guard. For four years, it's worked out great, with Pro Bowl selections in 2016 and 2017.
Scherff is a mauler in the best sense of the word. He has great footwork and Redskins head coach Jay Gruden has called the former Iowa Hawkeye the best pulling guard in the NFL. Scherff is strong and nasty, words that won't win beauty pageants but absolutely win in the trenches of the NFL.
Considering all of that, a contract extension for Scherff should be easy. Right?
Currently in the final year of his rookie deal, multiple reports stretching over the last six weeks indicate that the organization is way off in their extension offers to Scherff. He might not command the biggest contract in the league, but he will get paid like a top three guard. In 2019, that means a lot of money.
Cowboys guard Zach Martin makes $14 million a year. Jaguars guard Andrew Norwell makes $13.3 million a year. Scherff might not get to Martin's salary, but he will probably get to Norwell, whether Washington pays it or not.
That means the Redskins need to pony up the cash now because as each day passes, the team is approaching an ugly set of options. Scherff and his representatives might continue to negotiate during the season, but it doesn't make a lot of sense. Once free agency becomes in view, players tend to wait for it. Just ask Kirk Cousins.
In fact, the situation between Scherff and the Redskins has some resemblance to the Cousins saga from a few years ago.
In that case, Washington low-balled their homegrown quarterback in their first set of negotiations. From there, things went sideways, and the team used consecutive franchise tags on Cousins before he finally left via free agency.
If the Redskins can't get a deal done with Scherff, the team could use a franchise tag in 2020. But that's a dangerous game of roulette.
The time to get a deal done with Scherff is now, if not last month. Redskins team president has said in the past that deadlines drive deals, but with Scherff, there is no exact deadline. He can decide to stop working on a contract extension at any moment, particularly once the pads come on at training camp.
The Trent Williams holdout might be complicating things a bit, if Williams only wants more cash and the issue isn't about much more than that. The truth is a Scherff extension would actually free up cap space in the short term, as his signing bonus would be spread out over the life of the contract, and some of that salary cap relief could go to Williams right away.
Williams' status isn't the hold up between Scherff and the Redskins. Whatever is the actual holdup best be resolved soon, or the Redskins are beginning down an all too familiar franchise path.
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