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Need to Know: Plenty of uncertainty among Redskins' linebackers

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Need to Know: Plenty of uncertainty among Redskins' linebackers

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, February 27, 15 days before NFL free agency starts.

Up in the air—Linebacker

As free agency approaches, some players are locked in for 2018. We’re going to look at some others who have little certainty about where they will be playing when the coming season starts. Yesterday the focus was on the offensive line; today, it’s the linebackers.

Zach Brown

Brown was one of the Redskins’ best defenders last year and one of the best bargains in football. He was leading the NFL in tackles through and giving the Washington defense sideline to sideline range it hasn’t seen in years through Week 14 when a variety of injuries ended his season early. This cost the Redskins all of $2.3 million on a one-year contract.

The Redskins are the third different team to employ Brown in the last three seasons. While he seems to like it here, he would be willing to make it four teams in four years if that’s what it takes to get him the type of contract he thinks he deserves. He will be 29 in October and this will be his last chance to cash in.

There have been some talks going back to December but they have not become serious enough to figure out where they are headed. It is likely that Brown’s camp will hold off on making a deal at least until after the combine, when hypothetical offers will be flying all over Indianapolis, tampering rules notwithstanding.

Junior Galette

Galette would be perfectly happy to end his career as a member of the Redskins. But there are two problems that might prevent him from doing that. One is named Preston Smith and the other one goes by Ryan Kerrigan. They are the two starters at outside linebacker and as long as they are around, Galette will not get as many snaps as he would like to.

How do we know this? He has said so, on social media, on TV, just about anywhere he has had the opportunity. Galette played roughly half the number of snaps that Smith and Kerrigan played. Health was not an issue once he got past a hamstring that bothered him in training camp. And according to the NFL’s NextGen Stats, he was the third-most effective pass rusher in the league.

Galette will be a tough player to value on the open market. Looking at his sack total last year, which was three, age (he’ll be 30 next month), and injury history, he probably would warrant a deal in the $3-$4 million per year range. But talent evaluators look beyond the top-line numbers and the film shows that Galette can be very disruptive to the opponents’ passing game. That ability is rare and it gets players paid. His name did not appear on an injury report all year. Looking at outside factors, this is not a good year for edge rushers in the draft so multiple teams looking to add pass rush could be interested in Galette.

Trent Murphy

Murphy is another player who will be hard to value when free agency starts. After getting six sacks in his first two NFL seasons combined, he broke out for nine in 2016. A 2017 that approached his ’16 production would have given Murphy status as one of the hot free agents available this year. But, of course, he suffered a torn ACL in the first preseason game and he was lost for the year.

So, who is he? The guy he was his first two years who could provide some situational pass rush? Or a player who is capable of posting double-digit sacks every year?

As usually is the case in free agency, nobody really knows. The Redskins likely will make efforts to keep both Murphy and Galette. If and when one of them agrees to a deal, it may be hard for them to continue to pursue the other.

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

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Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 2
—NFL Draft (4/26) 58
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 194

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Does Adrian Peterson want to start for the Redskins? 'Without a doubt'

Does Adrian Peterson want to start for the Redskins? 'Without a doubt'

Adrian Peterson wants to be a good teammate, but he also made clear that he came to the Redskins to compete for the starting running back job. 

"Without a doubt," Peterson said when asked if he wanted to start. "And I would be cheating myself if that wasn't my approach."

The legendary running back is right, of course. 

Elite athletes always want to be at the top, and that drive is what gets them there. Peterson has run for nearly 12,000 yards in his NFL career, and that doesn't happen by accident.

Coming to Washington presents a different challenge for Peterson. 

Unsigned until August 20th, Peterson ran for a career low 3.4 yards-per-carry last season in split time between the Saints and Cardinals. It's no sure thing he even makes the roster, let alone starts for the Redskins on September 9 when the season begins. 

Peterson, however, is confident he has more left in his legs. 

"I continue to work because at the end of the day I control my output. So that’s why I continue to work hard. I knew an opportunity would present itself. And at the end of the day, God’s willing, stay healthy, the guys up front stay healthy as well, I know that I’ll be able to contribute in a big way in the run game."



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Contract makes Adrian Peterson a no-risk acquisition for the Redskins

Contract makes Adrian Peterson a no-risk acquisition for the Redskins

Adrian Peterson is truly a no-risk acquisition for the Redskins. 

The 33-year-old running back signed with the Redskins on Monday afternoon, for one year at the NFL minimum salary of $1.015 million according to Field Yates of ESPN

The contract structure means that the Redskins can have him practice for the next week and a half, play in the two remaining preseason games, and then let him go prior to Week 1 and walk away owing him nothing. 

If they do keep him for Week 1 against the Cardinals, his salary for the season will become guaranteed. But if they decide to let him go at some point in the season the payout of the remainder of his salary will be a drop in the bucket of a $176 million salary cap. There is no signing bonus, roster bonus, or other guaranteed salary. 

One more team friendly aspect of this deal is that Peterson will cost less against the cap than the Redskins are paying him. The NFL has something called the veteran minimum benefit, designed to encourage teams to keep older players rather than the younger and cheaper one. Under this benefit, Peterson will count just $630,000 in cap space. That is the same cap charge as Byron Marshall carries. So, if it comes down to choosing between the Marshall and Peterson for a roster spot, the salary cap will not be a factor. 

Apparently, Peterson is anxious to play football and after spending the entire offseason as a free agent who wasn’t drawing much interest, a player who received $11 million guaranteed from the Vikings two years ago will go to work for a fraction of that.