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Questions facing Ron Rivera: What happens next with Ryan Kerrigan?

Questions facing Ron Rivera: What happens next with Ryan Kerrigan?

In the last decade, no Redskins player performed better than Ryan Kerrigan. Incredibly, he started the first 139 straight games of his career, a run of more than eight years without missing a game, and posted double-digit sacks in four of the last six seasons. 

Kerrigan has been dependable and productive in a fashion that no Redskins player has demonstrated in a long time. He made the Pro Bowl in 2016, 2017 and 2018, and in those three years, he totaled 37 sacks. 

Looking at 2020 and a new era of Redskins football, however, and questions arise about Kerrigan's future. 

New Washington head coach Ron Rivera was presented a roster chock full of problems, and that allowed the coach to already make some easy decisions. Releasing Josh Norman and Paul Richardson was easy; those two moves saved the team nearly $15 million and cost the Redskins little on-field production. 

That's not the case with Kerrigan. 

Sure, he has a high price tag in 2020 with a cap number of nearly $12 million, none of which is guaranteed. And yes, Kerrigan is coming off the least productive season of his career and for the first time ever missed games to injuries. He will also turn 32 in August. 

Considering the above case against Kerrigan, and that Washington overhauled its coaching staff and front office already this offseason, releasing the veteran pass rusher could make sense. It would free up a lot of cash on the salary cap and give a veteran player a chance to catch on with a contender.

Don't expect that though. 

There is a multitude of reasons to expect Kerrigan to stay in Washington, but the most important is that he has publicly talked about a willingness to work out a contract extension (see video above). If the Redskins can add a year onto his deal, that would allow for immediate cap relief by spreading his money between the next two seasons. In many ways, that seems like the most likely option. 

Kerrigan is well-liked by everyone in the Redskins organization, including ownership, and is just one sack away from the franchise sack record. That might not mean much to some fans, but there is value in a distinguished player going his whole career for one team. 

There's also this and it's important: Kerrigan could thrive in 2020. 

For the past few seasons, the Redskins 3-4 defensive scheme consistently asked its pass rushers to drop into coverage far too frequently. It was a bad plan, and players knew it. New defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio has openly discussed that he wants his pass rushers to focus on getting to the quarterback. It's an incredibly simple yet smart strategy, and that could help Kerrigan significantly. 

Consider what happened with former Redskins outside linebacker Preston Smith. In four years in Washington, Smith never got to double-digit sacks. His last year with the Redskins, 2018, was the worst of his career. He finished with just four sacks. This year playing in Green Bay, Smith registered 12 sacks and got to show his size, speed, and athleticism as a disruptive force. 

Kerrigan doesn't have Smith's athleticism, but he has more strength and could see a similar jolt by playing in a revamped defense. 

There is the issue of the second overall pick that Washington holds. Assuming the team doesn't trade the pick, the Redskins will take Ohio State defensive end Chase Young. Paired with 2019 first-round pick Montez Sweat, Del Rio would have some elite speed off the edge. 

Would Kerrigan lose reps in that scenario? More than likely. 

Can a team have too many pass rushers? Absolutely not. 

Kerrigan would provide different looks than Young or Sweat for opposing offenses when on the field, and has the strength to play in run situations as well. He could also serve as a role model for both young players in how to prepare and take care of your body over the course of a 16-game season. 

If a release seems unlikely and an extension might make sense, the trade option just exists. It's hard to know what the market would be for Kerrigan right now, as he only has one year left on his contract.

Keep in mind, however, that Kerrigan has been extremely productive in Washington for the last five seasons playing on some bad defenses. It's entirely possible, if not probable, he can deliver more double-digit sacks playing on an improved defense with a better scheme. 

What is certain in all of this?

Rivera would love to have Kerrigan from a culture standpoint. He won't miss any voluntary sessions and he will work hard every day. There's nine years of data, on-field and off, to support the theory that Kerrigan is the type of player all coaches love to have on their team. And that will matter too. 

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Report: President Trump told pro sports commissioners he believes NFL season should start on time

Report: President Trump told pro sports commissioners he believes NFL season should start on time

During a conference call with 13 professional sports commissioners Saturday, U.S. President Donald Trump said that he believes the 2020 NFL season should start as scheduled in September despite the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, according to a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Adrian Wojnarowski.

Trump also reportedly remarked that he would like to allow fans back into stadiums and arenas by August or September.

The president used the call as an opportunity to commend the commissioners for their response to the pandemic. On March 11, the NBA became the first American professional sports league to suspend play in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. The NHL, which was less than a month out from the start of the playoffs, followed suit—as eventually did the MLS, ATP, WTA, PGA Tour, NASCAR and MLB spring training.

With the NFL still in the midst of its offseason, there remains hope that the 2020 season will begin on time. So far, the league has canceled its annual league meaning and delayed OTAs. The draft will be held as expected while teams make their selections remotely rather than in Las Vegas as originally planned. While many free-agent deals have yet to be finalized due to the inability for teams to conduct physicals, the NFL has yet to be affected as much as other major sports.

The season is set to begin Thursday, Sept. 10 with opening Sunday coming Sept. 13.

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President Trump meets with league commissioners, commends their response to the coronavirus

President Trump meets with league commissioners, commends their response to the coronavirus

The White House says President Donald Trump spoke with commissioners of the country's sports leagues on Saturday and told them he recognizes "the good work being done by many teams and players" to care for their communities and fans dealing with the new coronavirus.

After the conference call that included the president, two of his advisers and 13 sports commissioners ended, ESPN reported that Trump "believes the NFL season should start on time in September."

The virus has decimated the sports world with the NBA and NHL suspending their seasons indefinitely and MLB postponing the start of its season.

The NCAA basketball tournament was also canceled, as were college spring sports such as baseball and softball, lacrosse and track and field. No representatives of the NCAA were reported to be in the call.

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The White House says the commissioners thanked Trump for his "national leadership and for his interest in the sports industry." He called on them to continue efforts to support their fellow Americans during the current challenge.

A wide range of sports league officials participated in the call, including NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

NBC Sports Washington's Matt Weyrich contributed to this report.

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