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Can the Redskins D-line win its matchup against the Rams?

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Can the Redskins D-line win its matchup against the Rams?

Much of the focus at FedEx Field on Sunday will be on the Rams’ defensive line, perhaps the best in the game end to end, going against the Redskins’ offensive line, a group that got off to a pretty good start against the Dolphins but still has a lot to prove.

But the game could be decided by the other two sets of linemen on the field. The Redskins brought in three free agents and spend some major draft capital to try to bolster their defensive front while St. Louis will start two rookies on their offensive line. If the Redskins can stop the running game and put some pressure on Nick Foles they will have a much better chance preventing an 0-2 start to their season.

The rookies are left guard Jamon Brown, a 6-4, 330-lb. third-round pick out of Louisville and second-round right tackle Rob Havenstein, 6-7, 332 out of Wisconsin. The center is Tim Barnes, who has been with the Rams since 2011 but will be making just his sixth start. At left guard is Rodger Saffold, a 2010 second-round pick who didn’t work out after three years at left tackle.

Greg Robinson, the left tackle, has an indirect connection to the Redskins. The Rams picked him second overall in 2014 with the pick that was Washington’s final installment on the trade for Robert Griffin III. Robinson struggled early on last year but he has settled in nicely.

Nick Foles was sacked just twice by the Seahawks in Week 1 with only one of those coming at the hands of a lineman. The Rams rushed for just 76 yards on 26 attempts (2.9 yards per carry) but they scored two rushing touchdowns. The also should have starting running back Tre Mason back for this game after he missed the opener with a hamstring injury. It’s also possible that top draft pick Todd Gurley will get some carries for the Rams. 

There are a few matchups to watch here. Jason Hatcher had perhaps his best game with the Redskins in Week 1, recording four tackles, a sack, and batting down a pass. He also should get partial credit for the Redskins’ only takeaway of the game. Hatcher had both of his hands on Ryan Tannehill, forcing the QB to spin out of the sack. But he spun right into Preston Smith, who got the sack and strip. Saffold will be responsible for blocking Hatcher most of the day.

The rookie Havenstein will have a handful with Ryan Kerrigan. He had half a sack, two hurries and batted down a pass against the Dolphins.

The key to the battles in the trenches may be whether or not nose tackle Terrance Knighton will be able to play. The massive Knighton missed practice on Wednesday with a rib injury. If he can’t go the line is significantly weaker. It’s not that Chris Baker is not capable of filling in but few in the NFL have Knighton’s combination of size and athletic ability.

It seems almost certain that the Rams’ D-line will make some plays. Chances are that the Redskins will only be able to survive that if Hatcher, Smith, Kerrigan, Knighton, and company can make some good things happen on their own.  

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Need to Know: A look at the Redskins' key 2019 free agents

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USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: A look at the Redskins' key 2019 free agents

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 27, 16 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.  

Note: I am vacationing in the Outer Banks this week. In this space, I’ll be presenting some of the most popular posts of the last few months. I hope you enjoy these “best of” presentations and I’ll see you folks when I get back. 

Here is my sunrise view from this morning:

Looking at next year’s free agents

This post was originally published on March 18. 

There is still work that the Redskins can do in free agency and they still have some of their own players they want to retain. But with a lot of the player movement already in the books, we can take a look forward some of the key Redskin who currently are set to be free agents when the 2019 league year opens. 

QB Colt McCoy (Week 1 age 32)—Lots of questions here. Will the Redskins want to keep him around for another year as Alex Smith’s backup? Or will they want a younger and cheaper backup? Will McCoy want to move on rather than back up another QB who doesn’t miss many games?

OL Ty Nsekhe (32)—The Redskins gave him a second-round restricted free agent tender this year so it’s possible that he could be gone or on a long-term contract in Washington. If he is a free agent, his value and the difficulty of retaining him could depend on if he ends the season as a reserve tackle (easy) or as a starting guard (hard). 

OLB Preston Smith (25)—As we saw with Trent Murphy (three years, $21 million with up to $30 million), pass rushers get paid. Smith also makes big plays. Since Smith came into the NFL, he is the only player with at least 20 sacks, 3 interceptions, and 4 forced fumbles. If the Redskins can’t reach a deal on an extension with him this year the franchise tag is a distinct possibility. 

WR Jamison Crowder (25)—This year the supply of quality receivers both as free agents and in the draft sent contract prices skyrocketing. To guard against that happening next year, the Redskin should start talking to Crowder about an extension soon. 

ILB Zach Vigil (27)—As I noted here, Vigil went from being cut in September to a very valuable reserve in November. Both Zach Brown and Mason Foster will still be under contract, but the Redskin still should make an effort to retain Vigil for special teams and as a capable backup. 

Other Redskins who are slated to be UFA’s next year are DL Ziggy Hood and ILB Martrell Spaight. 

It’s also worth noting that WR Maurice Harris and DE Anthony Lanier will both be restricted free agents next year. Both positions were pricey in free agency this year, so both could require at least second-round tenders, which likely will increase to about $3 million in 2019. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

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Associated Press

Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, May 26, 17 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.  

Note: I am vacationing in the Outer Banks this week. In this space, I’ll be presenting some of the most popular posts of the last few months. I hope you enjoy these “best of” presentations and I’ll see you folks when I get back. 

Contract makes Alex Smith a Redskins for at least three seasons

This post was originally published on March 19. 

When the Redskins traded for Alex Smith on January 30, news also broke that he had agreed to a four-year extension with Washington in addition to the one year left on his contract with the Chiefs. While we got some top-line numbers on the deal, we have gone since then without any details. 

Until now. 

The details show a deal that has a slightly higher cap hit in 2018 than was on his original Chiefs contract and the numbers rise gradually over the life of the deal, which runs through 2022. 

Smith got a $27 million signing bonus and his salaries for 2018 ($13 million) and 2019 ($15 million) also are fully guaranteed at signing making the total $55 million (information via Over the Cap, which got data from a report by Albert Breer). 

But there I another $16 million that is guaranteed for all practical purposes. On the fifth day of the 2019 league year, his 2020 salary of $16 million becomes fully guaranteed. He almost assuredly will get to the point where that money will become guaranteed since the Redskins are not going to cut him after one year having invested $55 million in him. So the total guarantees come to $71 million. 

His 2021 salary is $19 million and it goes up to $21 million in 2022. There have been reports of some incentives available to Smith but since we have no details we’ll set those aside for now. 

The cap hits on the contract are as follows: 

2018: $18.4 million
2019: $20.0 million
2020: $21.4 million
2021: $24.4 million
2022: $26.4 million

The Redskins can realistically move on from Smith after 2020. There would be net cap savings of $13 million in 2021 and $21 million in 2022. 

The first impression of the deal is that the Redskins did not move on from Kirk Cousins because they didn’t want to guarantee a lot of money to a quarterback. The total practical guarantee of $71 million is second only to Cousins’ $82.5 million. It should be noted that Cousins’ deal runs for three years and Smith’s contract is for five. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler