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Redskins Free Agent Targets: Justin Simmons

Redskins Free Agent Targets: Justin Simmons

NBC Sports Washington is taking a long look at potential free agents that could help the Redskins in 2020. 

Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons
2016 third-round pick by Denver
Unrestricted free agent
6-foot-2 | 202 lbs. | 26 years old

The Redskins desperately need a free safety to pair with Landon Collins, Washington's prized free-agent acquisition from a year ago.

Could Justin Simmons fill that void?

The Denver Broncos safety is not only the best safety on the market, but one of the best free agents available in general. A second-team All-Pro selection in 2019, Simmons put together his best season to date in the final year of his rookie deal.

Simmons has been a starter since 2017 and has only missed three games in the past three seasons. He's one of the best defensive players and one of the most durable at his position.

The Broncos would certainly like to keep Simmons, who blossomed into one of their best players a season ago. If the two cannot come to a long-term contract agreement by March 10, the Broncos could place the franchise tag on Simmons. 

The 26-year-old recently told the media he has not decided whether he would show up to training camp or offseason workouts under the tag.

Simmons would be an ideal fit in Washington, but the question remains if the Redskins could afford him. The 26-year-old could likely sign a contract equal to, if not more, than the contracts that Kevin Byard, Eddie Jackson and Earl Thomas all earned in the past year. All three inked deals with an AAV over $12 million. 

Other options the Redskins could explore at safety that may be less expensive than Simmons are Anthony Harris or Tre Boston. Regardless, the Redskins will need to address the position this offseason.

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Two teams Peter King thinks could emerge in potential Trent Williams trade

Two teams Peter King thinks could emerge in potential Trent Williams trade

The question of will Redskins left tackle Trent Williams be traded is no longer an if, but when.

If Washington is unable to move the seven-time Pro Bowler over the next couple of weeks, the NFL Draft seems to be a likely time for the left tackle to be dealt. The Redskins don't have a second-round pick due to the Montez Sweat trade from a year ago and could be looking for one in return in a potential deal for Williams.

NBC Sports Peter King believes the Redskins should be able to find a trade partner for Williams, whether that's before or during the draft.

"I would be surprised if they weren't able to trade him," King told NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay.

The longtime NFL analyst went on to name two teams that Redskins fans should keep an eye on in a potential deal for the 31-year-old, with the first being the New York Jets.

"I'd really watch the Jets," King said. "It makes so much sense with the Jets."

New York signed tackle George Fant to a three-year, $27 million contract in free agency, but the tight-end-converted-lineman could shift to right tackle should the Jets be able to acquire Williams. The Jets interest in Williams isn't new, either. Just a day after the longtime Redskin was given permission to seek a trade in early March, the Jets were rumored to be interested in the left tackle.

Left tackle is a position the Jets needed to address this offseason, and the signing of Fant has led to more questions than answers. In 2019, New York allowed an average of over three sacks a game, the fourth-worst mark in the league. After signing prized free-agent running back Le'Veon Bell a year ago, the rusher was unable to maximize his talent behind one of the worst offensive lines in football. Jets' rushers averaged just 0.7 yards before contact a year ago, the NFL's worst mark.

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The Seattle Seahawks were the other team King believes could be eyeing a deal with Williams. 

"Honestly, I'd watch Seattle, too," King said. "Seattle is forever in search of an offensive line fix."

Trading Williams to the Pacific Northwest would be the second deal between the Redskins and Seahawks this offseason, as Washington shipped disgruntled cornerback Quinton Dunbar to Seattle for a fifth-round pick a couple of weeks ago. Dunbar, like Williams, also wanted a new contract. Both have one year remaining on their current deal, each with zero guaranteed money.

Seattle currently has Duane Brown at left tackle, and he's been above average at the position since the Seahawks traded for him in 2017. But Brown, who has two years remaining on his contract, will turn 35 before the 2020 season begins. Williams is simply better and three years younger, which could intrigue Seattle into making a deal.

Williams held out all of the 2019 season after Redskins team doctors misdiagnosed a cancerous growth on his brain for nearly six years. He reported to Washington minutes before the trade deadline last season and planned to return, but the Redskins placed him on the Non-Football Injury list days later, ending his season without No. 71 him playing a snap.

The longtime left tackle was given permission to seek a trade by the Redskins last month but hasn't been able to find a trade partner for what the Redskins feel is fair value for the seven-time Pro Bowler. Last week, Williams' agent ripped to Redskins for "not acting in good faith" and blamed the lack of a trade solely on the Redskins.

King believes that once Williams is eventually moved, he should be able to net the Redskins either a second or third-round pick.

"He should still be able to get a mid-to-low 2 or a very high 3," King said. "That would be my expectation that would happen."

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When will the NFL kick off play? NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith not ready to predict

When will the NFL kick off play? NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith not ready to predict

A world without sports was impossible to imagine just a few weeks ago.   

Even under the worst circumstances, sports brings us together, provides hope during times of adversity, heals the broken and offers a glimpse of better times to come. That isn’t available now to help us distance ourselves from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.  

The NBA, NHL, and MLS seasons are suspended. MLB’s season is delayed. College spring sports are cancelled. This is the new reality of social distancing and quarantine.  

In these trying times, the NFL has provided some sense of normalcy because its offseason could go on despite some necessary adjustments. Free agency went off without a hitch and the NFL Draft is expected to do the same later this month. But what happens after that? Will the season begin on time? 

NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith is taking the cautious approach.  

“I think it’s hard, if not impossible, to make concrete projections on what things might look like three, four, five, six months from now,” Smith said.  

Where we are today could not have been predicted months ago, leaving uncertainty in its wake. Yes, sports fans are desperate for football. But this scenario is just bigger than the business of the game. So, we pause. 

“The country is in desperate need of good leadership right now to make sure that we halt the spread of the virus, that we try to make sure that we are doing everything to make the peak of this outbreak happen as quickly as possible,” Smith said.  

Teams are not allowed to meet with players currently. And while the league has yet to cancel off-season training activities, Covid-19 is disrupting day-to-day business. Virtual contact is expected soon, but when players and coaches meet for the first time in person may not come until training camp in July.  Even that is in question. The 2020 Summer Olympics were scheduled for the same time in Tokyo and they were postponed weeks ago.  

While we don’t know when football will return, we do know it will.  But will it be different?  It’s been suggested games could be played without fans. Smith says contingency plans are coming together, but games without fans seems unlikely.  If the virus hasn’t been contained, don’t expect players to come out first and play alone.  

“I certainly am a fan, like everybody else out there,” Smith said. “Whether it was being a fan of basketball, baseball, or being a fan of hockey – all of that got cancelled because it was in the public’s best interest.” 

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A team could test all of its players and be in the clear, but what about when they go home to their families?  Or resume normal activities outside of football?  It’s too much of a risk.    

“Football certainly has a strong and meaningful place in American culture, whether it’s played in high school, college, or played on the professional level,” Smith said. “But first and foremost, we have to make decisions that are in best interest of the public and best interest of the players.” 

The NFL and the NFLPA have gathered the best doctors they can to monitor the safety of their players and organization staffs.  The biggest determining factor on when football, and all sports, return is what you do at home to help slow the spread.  

Do your part, stay home and don’t expect football to return before it returns with you, the fan, who hopefully will be cheering from the stands, from your homes. Soon enough it will be safe to return. And when that happens, the players will be ready, too.  

“I know that there is going to be a group of people that are going to love to play football on the field,” Smith said.  

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