There never is a good time to have the possibility of getting slapped with a four-game suspension looming over your head.
This is a particularly bad time for Trent Murphy to be in that situation.
The 2014 second-round pick of the Redskins is entering the fourth and final year of his rookie contract. His value looked shaky during his first two years. Murphy played in 31 games with 23 starts and he totaled 6.5 sacks. He appeared to be headed to a career as a role player.
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Then last year he started getting to the quarterback and making plays. He registered nine sacks and forced three fumbles.
In a year when everyone expected Preston Smith to break out in his second season, it was Murphy who became the team’s second pass rushing threat along with Ryan Kerrigan.
Under the CBA, Murphy is now eligible for a contract extension. While there have been no reports of any talks between the Redskins and Murphy’s representation, he would have been negotiating from a position of strength. He had the options either signing based on a string season that indicated that his career is on the upswing or waiting for free agency a year from now after possibly posting double-digit sacks and have an opportunity to cash in big.
Those options are not gone if Murphy does indeed serve the four-game suspension but his leverage will be diminished, especially if he waits a year until free agency. The PED suspension will turn off some teams but that’s not that big an issue. However, Murphy missing a quarter of the season will make it hard for him to put up the impressive numbers to attract a rush of teams in the free agent market.
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Perhaps his absence will be a break for the Redskins, assuming they want to retain him.
Although it is just speculation, it seems logical that the PED issues stem from last year when the team first asked him to gain weight to convert to defensive end and then, after Junior Galette was lost for the season with a torn Achilles, wanted him to lose the added weight to go back to outside linebacker. The Redskins may be inclined to overlook the suspension and reduced statistical production because he took one for the team.
In the meantime, the Redskins may be in good shape to get through his absence and they may not. It depends on Galette. If he can stay on the field the Redskins should be fine with him, Smith and Kerrigan. But if Galette again has trouble staying healthy, they could be scrambling for someone to rotate in when Smith or Kerrigan needs a break.