Graham Gano knew the competition with Neil Rackers was overwhen he pulled into the parking lot at Redskins Park on Monday morning.Rackers, who had been attempting to take Ganosjob, was walking to his car, carrying a big filled with all the items that hadbeen in his locker. The veteran kicker was the first of 15 cuts the Redskins must make as they trim the roster from 90 to 75 ahead of Monday's 4 p.m. deadline.We felt it was going to come down to the last week, Ganosaid, referring to Wednesdays preseason finale against Tampa Bay. But it wascoachs decision.Its unclear whether the Redskins intend to bring in anotherkick to compete with Gano over the final days of the preseason. For now, though,the job appears to be his for a fourth consecutive season.Im excited to have the opportunity, Gano said. It was agood competition between Neil and I in practices. We didnt get as many fieldgoals as we would have hoped for in the preseason.As reporters approached Gano at his locker room, quarterbackRobert Griffin III gave his kicker an exaggerated hug as the two cracked uplaughing.Each day Neil and I went out, knowing that practice wasgoing to play a key role in it, Gano added. But I dont know what theirdecision came down to.It wasnt game-day performance. Rackers was 1 for 2 in field goals, makinga 28-yarder while missing an attempt from 54. Gano, meantime, did not attempt asingle field goal in the first three exhibitions.The kickers last head-to-head battle came during trainingcamp. Rackers went 3 for 5, missing 30 and 37 yards. Gano was perfect.I havent talked to coach about it, Gano added. I justfeel blessed to have this opportunity to be on this team and Im focusing ongetting myself ready for the game.Gano made 75.6-percent of his field goal attempts lastseason five were blocked as a result of poor blocking and owns a 73.8-percentmark for his career.
In Brandon Scherff, the Redskins have a 27-year-old guard who has delivered on his first-round status, a lineman who has become one of the best in the league at his position and should have many more years of production and defender-mauling left.
Therefore, it's in the Redskins' best interest to extend Scherff this offseason, and the veteran confirmed on Monday there have been talks about getting that done.
But during a discussion on the Redskins Talk podcast, J.I. Halsell, a salary cap expert and former agent, laid out something that could force those negotiations to stall.
"There are some things you have to take into consideration because 2020 is the final year of the collective bargaining agreement, so there are some things you have to work around when structuring the deal," Halsell said.
Not only is that deadline approaching, but another one is, too. In 2021 and 2022, the NFL's TV deals with Monday Night Football, FOX, CBS and NBC expire as well.
So, there's a very real possibility the league's salary cap could look much, much different in a few seasons. And that, according to Halsell, may make Scherff much less willing to accept an extension now.
"If you're Brandon Scherff, in 2021, with a new collective bargaining agreement, the salary cap might be $250 million or something crazy like that, with all the new revenue coming into the league," he explained. "And so why would I take a deal today and preclude myself of taking advantage of a very lucrative and larger revenue pie?"
Essentially, it comes down to whether Scherff wants to take a present risk that could pay off down the line (kind of like how Kirk Cousins did a few years back with the Burgundy and Gold). He could probably lock something in over the next few months — Halsell's projection was an agreement for five years, including $45 million guaranteed and a $14.5 million average per year — or step away from talks now and try to cash in later.
Haslell told Redskins Talk he'd probably advise the lineman to take the second route.
"You would say, 'Look, you're a former first-round pick. You've made a decent amount of money in your career thus far,'" he said. "You have the financial wherewithal to not take the bird in hand today that may not be as lucrative as what is out there in 2021. So, bet on yourself and play out the last year of your rookie deal, force them to tag you in 2020 and then see what this new NFL salary cap world looks like in 2021."
Now, who knows truly how much these factors will play into Scherff's back-and-forth with the 'Skins. Nevertheless, you can see why the Pro Bowler's next contract may not be as much of a no-brainer as previously thought.
"If the kid is willing to bet on himself," Haslell said, "then it could be very lucrative on the back end."
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Bruce Allen identified getting a contract extension done for Pro Bowl guard Brandon Scherff as one of the Redskins biggest priorities of the 2019 offseason. To this point, however, nothing has happened.
That doesn't seem to have Scherff concerned.
"We've been talking, but I'm not really worried about that," he said after OTAs on Monday. "I'm here for another year, so that's all I'm worried about right now. Everything will take care of itself."
Scherff, the fifth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, has played at an elite level since his rookie season. He's made two Pro Bowl teams in four years, and until last year, had been remarkably durable.
In 2018, Scherff's season started very strong. 'Skins coach Jay Gruden described the former Iowa Hawkeye as the best pulling guard in the NFL and it was well-earned praise. Then, in a Week 8 loss, Scherff went down with a torn pectoral muscle. His season was over.
At OTAs, however, Scherff was a full participant with no brace or apparent encumbrances from the injury.
"I'm feeling really good, just taking it slow and making sure I'm 100 percent," he said.
Expect the free agent market to be quite bullish. Once a lesser-paid position than tackle, guards have recently started pulling in significant cash. Zach Martin's recent contract extension in Dallas pays him more than $14 million per season, and Jacksonville is paying Andrew Norwell more than $13 million this year.
For Scherff, expect top of the market money. He has the talent, pedigree and ability that if Washington won't pay in the neighborhood of Martin and Norwell, he can wait for free agency.
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