RICHMOND—The Redskins may be preparing to let one of their starters at a high-impact position hit the open market in 2019.

Outside linebacker Preston Smith is going into the final year of his rookie contract. He said neither he nor his agent has talked to the Redskins about an extension. Smith has been eligible for one since the 2017 season ended. 

“You know going into the season this year all I know is I got to play ball and I got to, you know, control what I can control and that’s my performance on the field,” Smith said. “And when the time comes it’s going to pay if you play. You play good they’re going to pay good.”

There are some reasons why the Redskins might want to consider making an effort to get Smith locked up before he hits the open market. Since he came into the league as a second-round draft pick in 2015 he has not missed a game. In the last three years, the 25-year-old Smith is the only player in the league with at least 20 sacks, four forced fumbles, and three interceptions. The sack total isn’t impressive by itself, but you add in the takeaways and you have a valuable player. 

But there might be good reasons to wait and see how the 2018 season plays out before committing to Smith. He has been maddeningly inconsistent at times. Last year, he got a sack in each of the Redskins first four games and then a half sack in their fifty. Then, over the next eight games, he got only half a sack before registering three in the last three games. 


Smith won’t necessarily hit the open market. They could start talks and come to an extension agreement at any time, including during the season. A contract could be signed before the start of free agency in mid-March. Or—and Redskins fans don’t want to hear this after the Kirk Cousins saga—Smith could be hit with a franchise tag. 

So, a lot could happen regarding Smith that would prevent him from becoming a free agent. But for it to happen, someone needs to pick up a phone at some point and that hasn’t happened yet. 

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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 and on Instagram @RichTandler