There are plenty of Redskins fans and members of the media who are anxious for the Redskins to re-sign linebacker Zach Brown. He is an example of a defensive free agent who worked out well for the Redskins, more of the exception than the rule for the organization in the free agent area.
He signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract in March after he didn’t get what he believed to be adequate offers for a long-term deal. The sixth-year veteran has been a bargain for Washington, producing a league-leading 117 combined tackles, 2.5 sacks, and 12 tackles for a loss.
MORE REDSKINS: PLENTY OF INCENTIVE TO WIN
So why don’t the Redskins go ahead and lock him up for the next few years? They may not have the immediate cash they need to do that.
Per the NFLPA public report, the Redskins have just $1.75 million in salary cap space remaining for 2017. Earlier this year it looked like they would have closer to $4 million or $5 million available in December. But that was before a staggering 15 players headed to injured reserve. The Redskins must continue to pay the salaries of those players and of the players who replaced them on the roster. That has cut into their cushion considerably.
They are likely to cross the finish line on the last day of the season on fumes; they could be looking for loose change in the couch cushions at Redskins Park to get through Week 17. That likely doesn’t leave them with enough money to entice Brown to skip free agency next March and stay in Washington.
One of the incentives that a pending free agent might get to persuade him to forego hitting the open market is some immediate cash in his bank account. For example, last week Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery got $6.25 million signing bonus as part of his four-year, $52 million extension. Like Brown, he signed a one-year free-agent deal earlier this year.
That signing bonus money is charged to the 2017 salary cap. The Redskins simply don’t have the cap space to pay Brown anything close to that.
A signing bonus isn’t a requirement in a contract extension. Maybe they could work around that by, say, giving Brown a deal that has a substantial roster bonus that would be paid the day after the Super Bowl, when the cap resets. But at that point, the player could well opt to wait another month or so and see what the open market brings.
Brown turned 28 in October and this likely will be his one shot at a lucrative contract. His deal should land with an average annual value of about $5 million to $7 million. A deal like that is not a major burden on the salary cap. He is a good fit in the Washington defense and although he won’t give the Redskins a hometown discount, there is every reason to think he would stay for a competitive offer.
But it’s hard for them to make an enticing offer right now, given their cap situation. It’s likely that those who would like to see Brown back will have to wait until March for a resolution to his status.