There is no shortage of advice heading the Redskins’ way as the start of the league year approaches. One list of five suggested offseason moves came from Bill Barnwell of ESPN. Here is a look at his proposals and my take on them.
Don’t try to tag and trade Kirk Cousins—If you’ve read what I’ve written here or if you follow me on Twitter, you probably know that I think that this would be a bad and futile move. Cousins would have to sign the tag in order for him to be traded for compensation. “Why would Cousins want Washington to narrow his options, and why would he want his new team to give up valuable draft picks as a thank-you to the franchise that is moving on from him?” wrote Barnwell. Exactly.
Re-sign Zach Brown and Spencer Long—Bringing back Brown certainly should be a top priority. He brought an element to the defense that has been missing for years. The question is, how much will he cost? Barnwell said that he won’t break the bank but that he should get more than the four-year, $24 million deal that A.J. Klein got from the Saints last year. In fact, Brown’s expectations are far north of that. Klein got $9.7 million in guarantees with $5.7 million fully guaranteed at signing. Colleague JP Finlay has reported that Brown’s camp wants closer to $20 million guaranteed.
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Long may be able to take advantage of a weak market for the interior offensive line; Barnwell suggests that his ceiling may be a deal with an average annual value of $8 million. A lot will depend on his health after he missed nine games with a quad injury that required surgery and knee problems. I have heard that the Redskins are leaning towards moving on from Spencer, but it remains to be seen if the thin supply of possible replacements in free agency will change their minds.
The pending free agency of Bashaud Breeland also is discussed here. He likely will be out of the Redskins’ price range as he is looking at a potential contract with an AAV of $10 million. The loss of Kendall Fuller in the Alex Smith trade may give the Redskins pause but that price tag is probably too high.
Pick up Brandon Scherff’s fifth-year option—This is an easy call, although the better move would be to get him an extension before the option decision is due in early May. The salary for that 2019 option year will be in the vicinity of $14 million, which is left tackle money. That number could be used as a floor for negotiations just like Kirk Cousins’ agent used the tag salary as a basis for his anticipated salaries.
Work on extending Preston Smith—His inconsistency in sack numbers causes some fans to severely underrate his importance to the defense but he is a vital part of the unit. Barnwell suggests that even though it may cost over $10 million per year to lock him up, they should do it in order to avoid the franchise tag game that they played with Cousins. Pass rushers are rare and Smith is a very good one. They should do everything they can to keep him in the fold.
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Barnwell does not mention Jamison Crowder, who also is eligible for an extension, but I think he needs to be a priority along with Smith and Scherff.
Be selective in free agency—This always is good advice for the Redskins but perhaps more important this year. If the Redskins spend too much they will negate the third-round compensatory pick the would get for Cousins and a potential lower pick for Breeland. One way to avoid that would be to target players cut by other teams. Among the free agents that Barnwell thinks would be good fits are WR’s Sammy Watkins and Allen Robinson.