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10 Training Camp Questions: How dangerous is the Brandon Scherff contract situation?

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10 Training Camp Questions: How dangerous is the Brandon Scherff contract situation?

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.

10) Will the Redskins develop depth on the D-line?

9) Can the Redskins count on Montae Nicholson?

8) Want better offense? Get more out of the tight ends 

7) Will Jimmy Moreland actually win the slot CB job from Fabian Moreau?

6) After losing Reuben Foster, how's the Redskins LB situation?

5) Will potential match production for Redskins WRs?

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. 

Mostly. 

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?

Wrong. 

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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Good, bad and ugly make up Redskins head coach debuts over the years

Good, bad and ugly make up Redskins head coach debuts over the years

As the old saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. That is true in all walks of life, including the professional sports world. And while the NFL may be a “what have you done for me lately” business, it is imperative to kick off a coaching tenure on a positive note,  rather than playing from behind the entire way.

Ron Rivera is set to take over as the 30th head coach in franchise history when his squad presumably lines up against the Eagles on September 13th in Landover. With team workouts currently not an option, it is certainly too early to gauge how those two teams will match up in Week 1 - but if recent history is any indication, that debut could go either way.

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It could end up like Mike Shanahan’s primetime victory in his 2010 debut against the rival Cowboys, or like the return of Joe Gibbs back in 2004 that saw Washington outlast Tampa Bay, and even like Steve Spurrier’s high-powered win over the Cardinals in 2002 - all first impressions that the burgundy and gold promptly celebrated with a “Victory Monday” and left the fanbase hopeful for a return to glory.

But the glass could end up looking half empty as well, as it has so many times before. Jay Gruden and Jim Zorn certainly didn’t inspire confidence with their initial performances in the district. Neither did Marty Schottenheimer, who lost the opener of his only season with the Redskins. You can go all the way back to Norv Turner, who had the difficult task of following the first run of legendary Coach Gibbs with the Redskins, and he did so by falling to the Seahawks in 1994.

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What is also important to note is that the debut isn't the all-telling game for head coaches. Though it sets the tone, some have rebounded from poor starts, while others have struggled after solid beginnings. Spurrier's first win was followed by two disappointing years, while Joe Gibbs' 0-5 start in 1981 was soon forgotten when he held up the Lombardi Trophy three times.

In 2011, Rivera lost in his head coaching debut with the Panthers, but a lot has changed since then. He eventually figured things out in Carolina, amassing 76 wins over 9 successful seasons, including an appearance in Super Bowl 50. Rivera created a reputation that preceded his arrival in Ashburn, and since then it has been clear that it is a new era for the Redskins.

As for how that era begins? History tells us to buckle up.

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PLL founder Paul Rabil has plenty in common with fellow DeMatha alum and Redskins pick Chase Young

PLL founder Paul Rabil has plenty in common with fellow DeMatha alum and Redskins pick Chase Young

When the Redskins drafted Chase Young second overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, the pass rusher became the latest on a long list of alumni from DeMatha Catholic High School to become a top draft pick.

Shortly after he was drafted, the 21-year-old received a message from professional lacrosse player Paul Rabil, a fellow DeMatha alum and the founder of the Premier Lacrosse League. 

Rabil recently joined NBC Sports Washington's D.C. Sports Live crew and explained why he reached out to the top Redskins draft pick.

"Chase is great, man," Rabil explained. "I shot him a note because obviously I think he's a generational talent, his athleticism, his size and his work ethic."

Rabil, who's widely considered the best lacrosse player by many of his peers, expressed that besides the fact that he and Young both attended DeMatha, the two have a decent amount in common, including a jersey number.

"I'm pumped to see him wear No. 99," Rabil said. "We have that in common. Sharing some additional commonalities is something Chase and I went back and forth on."

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Neither Young nor Rabil sported the 99 before becoming professionals. As Rabil explained to the D.C. Sports Live crew, he simply picked 99 when turning pro because No. 9, the number he had worn his entire career prior, was already taken by a teammate.

Like Rabil, Young wore No. 9 at DeMatha before changing to No. 2 at Ohio State. With defensive ends required to wear a number between 50-79 or 90-99 in the NFL, Young picked the closest thing that resembled his high school number in 99.

Sharing a number is just one of multiple things both Rabil and Young do have a lot in common, despite being 13 years apart in age. At DeMatha, both athletes were All-Americans and top recruits in their respective sport.

As Rabil explained, the athletics culture at DeMatha is special.

"I think it's something perhaps they put in the water fountains at DeMatha," Rabil joked. "It's a great culture. It's a sports culture."

DeMatha first became a national powerhouse in basketball in the 1960s behind the late legendary coach Morgan Wootten. That strong culture has remained in the basketball program -- the school has won 41 WCAC championships since the 1960s -- but has also transferred over to all of the school's other athletic programs, too. 

"I think it comes down to a lot of the coaching and the camaraderie. I've seen it ebb and flow over time," Rabil said. "We were powerhouses in football, basketball, obviously the origin in Morgan Wootten and basketball and what we've done there. But that bleeds over into wrestling and soccer [and more]."

Rabil led DeMatha to a lacrosse WCAC championship in each of his sophomore, junior and senior seasons, earning numerous honors and accolades along the way. On the football side, Young played an integral role in leading DeMatha to a WCAC title both in his junior and senior years, too.

Although it's been 16 years since Rabil was a student at the Hyattsville school, he's still just as proud to call himself a DeMatha alum.

"It's a great community to be a part of and one I'm really proud to continue to talk about," he said.

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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