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Need to Know: The Redskins' free agency focus should shift to bringing back their own

Need to Know: The Redskins' free agency focus should shift to bringing back their own

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, March 13, 43 days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (3/17) 33
—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 58
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 70
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 122
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 179

Three and out

1. Why no interest in Hankins?

Johnathan Hankins of the Giants has drawn very little interest in free agency. He is young (24), large (320 lb.) and one of the main reasons the Giants turned around from being one of the worst defenses in the NFL in 2015 to one of the best last year. But not only is his phone not ringing with a 703 area code on the caller I.D., it’s not ringing from anywhere. That usually means that the player is looking for too much money. It seems to be taking a while for Hankins’ to come down to where teams are interested.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 5.0

We’ll see what happens as the rest of this week unfolds. He can’t wait too long. Although there is a lot of cap money out there, teams will go elsewhere to fill their needs.

2. I’ve been asked several times over the last couple of days if the Redskins were done in free agency.

With that said, they could be done. Perhaps they have squeezed all that they can out of this lemon of a free agent class. Last month I wrote that free agency is not the cure for what ails the Redskins. The pool of quality free agents was extremely thin. Add to that a lot of teams having a lot of cap space and you have a lot of inflated prices for players who won’t deliver sufficient bang for the buck. The Redskins should use their remaining cap resources to lock up their own players who are eligible for extensions such as Morgan Moses and Spencer Long and then turn the organization’s attention to the draft.

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3. The Redskins’ next move in free agency may be to bring back some of their own. I’m not sure if all the starting center jobs around the league are filled but there aren’t many left. If John Sullivan can’t find a starting job, look for the Redskins to try to bring him back to back up at center. They could try to go the veteran minimum salary benefit route with some guaranteed money tacked on and have have his cap number count for less than his actual salary. I also wonder if Duke Ihenacho will be back for some safety depth.

Out—Inside/middle linebacker not a valued position in Washington

I thought this was the case and I went and looked it up on the indispensable Pro Football Reference and I was right. They also have only spend major free agency dollars on London Fletcher and that was a nice deal, not a blockbuster of any sort. Anyone thinking that the Redskins are going to go hard after Don’t’a Hightower should realize this. It’s just odd how some organizations through different owners, GMs, coaches, and defensive schemes just don’t value certain positions enough to spend major resources on them.

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Brandon Scherff confirms that he and the Redskins have 'been talking' about a contract extension

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Brandon Scherff confirms that he and the Redskins have 'been talking' about a contract extension

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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Reuben Foster's season-ending injury hurts the Redskins from a contract perspective, too

Reuben Foster's season-ending injury hurts the Redskins from a contract perspective, too

There are a lot of questions stemming from Reuben Foster's injury at Redskins OTAs, which looks to be a season-ending one.

Where does Foster, whose career has really yet to take off due to other injuries as well as numerous off-field troubles, go from here? What are Washington's options at inside linebacker now, since they were counting on him to produce?

And then there's this: How does Foster missing this year affect his contract with the 'Skins?

The answer, according to salary cap expert J.I. Halsell, is not much.

"When a contract tolls, that means basically the pause button is pushed and whatever you were supposed to make in 2019 carries over to 2020. That's not the case for Reuben Foster," Halsell said Tuesday while on the Redskins Talk podcast.

"Reuben Foster will earn his $1.29 million salary regardless of if he plays this season or not. While he'll probably spend his entire season on injured reserve, he'll make his $1.29 million in 2019."

Essentially, everything proceeds as normal. And that in and of itself is a decent setback for the organization.

One of the reasons the Redskins dealt with the controversy and backlash when they claimed Foster last November was because they were adding a first-round talent on his rookie contract. The team was hoping they could secure two years of elite play out of him at a bargain price, and then potentially exercise the fifth-year option on him to keep him in D.C. through 2021.

Now, however, they're losing one of those precious seasons and will have to make that decision on his fifth-year option next offseason without any tape or experience to really base that decision on. That's an important choice, and one that will carry significant financial implications as well.

"The fifth-year option for the 2021 season will be pretty expensive," Halsell said. "The long and short of it is it's going to be a lucrative dollar amount and given his injury history, his current injury, you would think that when they have to make that decision by the 2020 Draft, they will decline that option."

Haslell's right. The likelihood of the Burgundy and Gold committing big money to a guy with literally one rep in their uniform — and it's not like he was proven for the 49ers, as a linebacker or as a person, either — feels unbelievably slim. 

Yet — and now we're looking pretty far down the line — if he is able to return from this injury and contribute in 2020, the franchise could still look to keep him beyond that. There's a ton of time between now and then, but it's certainly possible.

"Theoretically, even though you don't have the fifth-year option for 2021, you can work on a contract extension for Reuben Foster assuming he comes back to full health," Haslell explained.

Still, not only does the injury hurt the player as well as the unit the player was going to start on, but it limits the team's potential payoff from claiming the player. The situation, from every angle, is an unfortunate one. 

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