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How should the Redskins address their need at safety?

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How should the Redskins address their need at safety?

Over the next few weeks, Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will grade each position group’s performance in 2015, break down the current personnel situation and evaluate the unit's outlook for 2016. Today, we’re taking a look at the safeties.

Safeties

Grade: C.

2015 starters: Dashon Goldson and Duke Ihenacho in Week 1; by the end of the season, Goldson and corner-turned-safety DeAngelo Hall were the starters.

Backups: Kyshoen Jarrett and Jeron Johnson.

Free agents: Ihenacho (restricted).

Rewind: The season got off to an ominous start for the Redskins’ safeties. Ihenacho, who had held off Johnson in training camp to earn the starting strong safety job, suffered a dislocated and fractured wrist early in the season-opener.

As a result, Ihenacho was lost for the season—again. In 2014, a heel injury sent him to injured reserve after only three games.

The safety position was pretty much a scramble from that point on.

Trenton Robinson started seven games in Ihenacho’s place. But he struggled with missed tackles, got hurt and was waived in December. Jarrett started three games, while Johnson also got a short-lived crack at the starting lineup.

The only safety to enjoy a steady role was Goldson, who started 15 regular season games and, despite resting in Week 17, led all Redskins' defenders in snaps played (995). Goldson, who turns 32 in September, also led the team in tackles (110) and proved to be an invaluable leader on the field and in the locker room. But he also missed 19 tackles, the second highest total among safeties, according to ProFootballFocus.com.

Hall, meantime, began the season as the starting left corner but finished his 12th NFL campaign as a starting safety. D-Hall proved to be a quick study, surprised coaches with his physicality and, overall, performed solidly down the stretch.  

In the final analysis, safety was not a position of strength for the Redskins’ defense. But given the injuries that besieged the backend all year, Goldson and Co. proved to be enough—just enough.    

Fast forward: This is obviously a position the Redskins will want to bolster this offseason.

Goldson carries an $8 million cap hit in 2016. That might be a deal-breaker for the Redskins, who liked what he brought to the defense and to the locker room but will likely balk at his current cost. Will he take less to stick around? That remains to be seen.

Hall, meantime, seems to have the best chance of being one of the two starting safeties in Week 1. In fact, both Coach Jay Gruden and GM Scot McCloughan have said they’re confident he possesses the savvy and the skill set to thrive at safety.

Where does that leave the others? Good question.

Ihenacho has vowed to win back his starting job and, given that he’s an RFA and just 26, he might get that chance. The concern, obviously, is that he’s played a grand total of 13 snaps the past two seasons. Jarrett played all over the place as a rookie but figures to be in the mix, as well. And you can’t totally count out Johnson, though he made a bigger impact on special teams (seven tackles and a blocked punt) last season.

Given all the question marks and the age of Goldson and Hall, it’ll be surprising if McCloughan stands pat. I actually expect him to target a young free agent (like 25-year-old George Iloka of the Bengals) and perhaps seek an eventual starter in the draft. 

Previous position previews: 

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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