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Trent Williams’ decision among 3 crucial decisions facing Redskins before NFL Free Agency opens

Trent Williams’ decision among 3 crucial decisions facing Redskins before NFL Free Agency opens

Technically, college players looking to break into the professional ranks dominate the headlines during the NFL Scouting Combine. In reality, however, when the NFL convenes on Indianapolis next week, much more will go down than college scouting. 

Perhaps the most important action goes down away from the field, away from the weight room, and away from the player interviews. Instead it happens in hotel lobbies, restaurants and even late-night bars as agents get important face time with NFL executives to determine what will happen when free agency opens in just a few weeks. 

Unofficially, of course. 

For the Redskins, three questions loom that need answers before the new league year starts in mid-March. 

1) Figure out the plan with Brandon Scherff - After massive change throughout the Redskins organization in the last six weeks, the team still faces a tight timeline with Pro Bowl guard Scherff. He will be an unrestricted free agent in March barring a new deal or an organizational decision to use the franchise or transition tag. The team should be working towards a new long-term deal, but can’t try to be cheap. The tag will drive negotiations, and considering a franchise tag on an offensive lineman ran for more than $14 million, that means Washington needs to expect a $15 million annual average salary for Scherff. If the team is uncomfortable with that number, don’t use the tag and prepare to move on. Keep in mind too that Scherff has dealt with injuries the last three seasons. It’s entirely possible he would prefer long-term security to a short-term payday, and that could help to drive contract talks in the few weeks remaining before the market opens. 

2) Set priorities - Ron Rivera made clear his Redskins team needs help at tight end during comments at the Super Bowl, and the number one target will be the Falcons’ Austin Hooper. In 13 games in 2019, Hooper caught 75 passes for nearly 800 yards and six touchdowns, significantly more production than Washington got at the position from all of the tight ends on their roster, combined. Hooper will carry a sizable price tag, however, and Rivera’s crew needs to decide right away if they’re willing to swim in the deep end. The franchise tag for tight ends came in at more than $10 million last year, and that seems near a logical starting point for Hooper contract talks. Part of making the tight end decision also means releasing Jordan Reed, the embattled veteran tight end counting more than $10 million towards the Redskins salary cap in 2020. Reed didn’t play last year due to a concussion in the preseason, and it’s been widely reported that Washington will release him. It’s time for these dominoes to start falling. 

3) Speaking of dominoes - It’s not Rivera’s fault that the Redskins currently play host to some disgruntled players, or that some contractual situations have created uncomfortable feelings around Redskins Park. It is, however, time for Rivera to start addressing the problems. What’s going to happen with Trent Williams? Is an extension possible or should the Redskins seriously look at trade options? Similar questions exist with Ryan Kerrigan. Quinton Dunbar doesn’t have the Pro Bowl track record of Kerrigan or Williams, but all three players are going into the last year of their contract. It’s time for action. 

Bonus: Even if Dunbar stays with the Redskins at the bargain price of $3 million, Washington is desperate for help at cornerback. Will the team pay up for James Bradberry or Chris Harris? What about Bashaud Breeland or Darqueze Dennard? The Redskins need to leave Indy with a real gameplan to address their secondary depth, and that means adding at least one starting-caliber corner.

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Redskins are warming up to trading down from No. 2 pick, per one report

Redskins are warming up to trading down from No. 2 pick, per one report

The 2020 NFL Draft is less than a month away, meaning the rumors surrounding the Redskins and what they'll do with the No. 2 overall selection are only going to intensify over the next few weeks.

Many expect the Burgundy and Gold to select Ohio State pass rusher Chase Young with the second pick, and it makes sense. He's been pegged as a generational talent by many experts and would make an immediate impact for the Redskins defense.

But coming off a 3-13 season, the Redskins still have plenty of holes on their roster. Arguably the best way to expedite a rebuild of any franchise is by building through the draft, and the Redskins potentially have the opportunity to acquire multiple first-round picks by trading down from the second overall selection. 

According to CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora, the team is warming up to exactly that idea.

"I continue to hear that they are increasingly open to trading out," la Canfora said. "I think there's a distinct possibility."

When the Redskins moved up to No. 2 in the 2012 NFL Draft to acquire Robert Griffin III, they shipped three first-round picks to the Rams. It likely would take a deal similar to that for the Redskins to move out of their current draft position.

The Dolphins currently sit at No. 5 and have three first-round picks in this year's draft. They're also desperate for a quarterback. With Miami having the draft capital to strike a deal, they seem like the most likely team to trade up to No. 2. 

Should Washington move down to No. 5, the Redskins would potentially have the chance to select another player La Canfora says they have a high draft grade on: Clemson's Isaiah Simmons.

"If they do drop back a few spots, I believe strongly they would target Isaiah Simmons," La Canfora said. "That's another player I'm told they are super high on their draft board. They feel like he's such a rotational chess piece you can put all over the place. They are very intrigued by that possibility if they were to move down."

Simmons is arguably the most versatile defensive player in this year's draft. Listed as a linebacker, Simmons has lined up as a cornerback, safety and pass rusher, too. Simmons's measurables -- 6-foot-4, 239 pounds -- are off the charts, and the Clemson standout raised his stock even higher this past February with an outstanding performance at the Scouting Combine.

Throughout free agency, the Redskins have not made a splashy move. But one common trait between many of the players Ron Rivera has brought in to Washington is their versatility. Simmons fits exactly that mold. The only question remains if he would still be available by the time the Redskins were on the clock, as both the Lions and Giants would have the chance to take him before Washington.

If Young is considered the best defensive player in the draft, Simmons is right behind him. La Canfora explained that if Washington has the opportunity to trade back and still nab Simmons, that's something they should absolutely consider.

"If you take Chase Young, and he ends up being [Lawrence Taylor], then I get it. You call it a day," he said. "But if he's less than that, and you have the opportunity to trade off of him, as if he were a quarterback, to get quarterback value for the pick because the other team moving up is taking a quarterback, then I don't know how you don't strongly consider it."

La Canfora explained what many assume will be the deciding factor on whether the Redskins trade down or not -- will they get enough in return for the pick?

"It will be mostly tied to the value and trade for the pick," Canfora said. "Do they feel there is enough opportunity to throw three, four, five darts at premium positions on the draft board over the next couple of years that would allow them to hasten their rebuild?"

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Quinton Dunbar had a reaction to the Redskins signing Ronald Darby, and it wasn't positive

Quinton Dunbar had a reaction to the Redskins signing Ronald Darby, and it wasn't positive

Soon after the Redskins signed Ronald Darby on Sunday, that news made it to the corner Darby will largely be asked to replace in Washington.

On a popular Burgundy and Gold Instagram fan page, Quinton Dunbar dropped a few comments on a post that announced the Darby move. They weren't of the positive variety, though.

Here's the post:

Initially, Dunbar wrote, "Great signing but I wasn't worth the extra mill 😂joke." There, the now-Seahawk is referring to how his former club wouldn't bump up his 2020 salary, which will total $3.25 million (none of which is guaranteed).

Then, in that same thread, Dunbar added that he's "happy" to be in Seattle, called Washington an organization that "lies" and makes excuses and concluded that he won't be talking about them again.

The two NFC squads will meet at some point in 2020 at FedEx Field. That'll be a fun one!

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