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Need to Know: What are the chances that Baker returns to the Redskins?

Need to Know: What are the chances that Baker returns to the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, February 15, 22 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 14
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 61
—NFL Draft (4/27) 71
First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 207

Wednesday quick hitters

Defining “heat”: It appears that I upset some people yesterday with my tweet promoting the Need to Know post. I said that “The heat is on Scot McCloughan.” Some were wondering (rather angrily I might add) why a GM who helped the team get to consecutive winning seasons for the first time in nearly 20 years would have the heat on him. And the answer is that the heat always is on an NFL GM. If the franchise hasn’t even been to an NFC championship game in about 25 years there is heat on the GM to get the team there. If they just won a Super Bowl, there is heat on the general manager to do it again.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk Podcast - Upside for Kirk Cousins answering contract questions?

Important work: Having the heat put on him and being under pressure does not mean that McCloughan is on the verge of behind fired. It means just what it says. Aren’t you under pressure in your job from time to time? Does it always mean that you are about to be fired? In most cases, it means that you have very important work to get done and you are on a deadline. That applies to McCloughan regarding free agency and the draft.

Baker’s return a coin toss: It appears that Chris Baker’s status is truly a 50-50 proposition. On the pro side of keeping him, he is a very solid defensive end on a team that desperately needs defensive linemen. Why let him go and have one more hole you need to fill? Also, he is settled in the area and he wants to stay. The other side of the coin is that he will command a three- or four-year deal worth $7-$8 million per year. They may be hesitant to offer that to a player who will be 30 a few games into the season. I’ll say he ends up staying but I say it with no confidence.

Pay the big man: After the Redskins sort out their free agents they need to get down to business with some contract extensions for eligible players. Morgan Moses should be first in line. He has done a solid job since taking over the right tackle spot, the second most important position on the O-line, during training camp in 2015. Last year he would have missed a game or two with a badly sprained ankle he suffered in London but since Trent Williams had gone out on a drug suspension right after he got injured, Moses pushed through it. He should get five years for between $6 and $7 million per year. 

More Redskins: Dysfunction at Redskins Park?

Quality QB’s on tap in ’17: There is a lot of talk about a shortage of quarterbacks in the NFL but don't tell the Redskins that. Of the 13 teams on their 2017 schedule only one, the 49ers, have genuine questions at the position for the coming season. The Broncos also are unsure who will start but they are not in full-scale blowup mode at the most important position on the field with Trevor Simeon and Paxton Lynch in the house. The rest of the QB’s on the slate range from competent (Alex Smith) to rising stars (Derek Carr, Dak Prescott twice, Carson Wentz twice) to established stars (Russell Wilson, Philip Rivers) to sure first-ballot Hall of Famers (Drew Brees). Injuries could change this situation but right now even though the Redskins need to upgrade their rushing defense it looks like they will have to bolster their pass defense as well.

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Report: Trent Williams wants a new deal or a trade from Redskins

Report: Trent Williams wants a new deal or a trade from Redskins

INDIANAPOLIS -- While recent meetings between Redskins head coach Ron Rivera and disgruntled left tackle Trent Williams helped repair the relationship between star player and team, the situation isn't resolved.

In fact, Williams still wants to be traded if he can't get a new contract, according to a new report from NFL Network.

Williams did not play a single snap for Washington in 2019. Not one. That came as the result of a cancer scare that he didn't believe was adequately handled by the Redskins medical staff. He also lost trust in former team president Bruce Allen. Importantly too, Williams wanted a new contract with lots of guaranteed money. 

Rivera has overhauled the Redskins medical staff and Allen is obviously gone from the team, but the contract hurdles remain. 

For the Redskins a new deal for Williams might not make a lot of sense. He will turn 32 in July and hasn't played a full 16-game season since 2013. He's also a great player, so perhaps an extension could make sense. 

The best read on the situation is Williams likely won't play on his current contract, which has one-year remaining and a salary-cap charge of $14.5 million. None of that money is guaranteed. 

Right now, it seems like both sides are playing nice. The Redskins don't want to come out and say they're not going to pay Trent. And Trent's side doesn't want to come out and demand a trade. The meetings with Rivera and Williams mattered in that a resolution that pleases both sides is possible. 

What seems impossible, or at least unlikely at this point, is that Williams wears the Burgundy and Gold this fall unless a new contract emerges.

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Redskins are working with Brandon Scherff and view him as 'big part' of their O-line, Ron Rivera explains

Redskins are working with Brandon Scherff and view him as 'big part' of their O-line, Ron Rivera explains

The franchise tag window in the NFL officially opened on Thursday, and the Chiefs have already placed the label on defensive lineman Chris Jones. The deadline for clubs to follow suit comes in mid-March.

So, could the Redskins do the same with Brandon Scherff? That's a question the Redskins Talk podcast asked Ron Rivera directly on Thursday, when the head coach sat down for an interview.

"Well the plan is to continue to work with his agent and see what we can get worked out, more so than anything else," Rivera said. "But Brandon, most certainly, is somebody that we really believe is a big part of our offensive line and we'll see how things work out."

The first half of that answer is fairly general; trying to get things "worked out" is something teams and agents are doing all the time. However, Rivera labeling Scherff as a "big part" of the Redskins' O-line certainly appears to be a clue that, at the very least, they don't intend to let the multi-time Pro Bowler leave.

"I don't want to deal in what-ifs and all that kind of stuff, but again, I know [Redskins Senior VP of Football Administration] Rob Rogers will be working with [Scherff's] folks trying to get something worked out," the coach said.

Scherff's recent injury history, plus issues with penalties in 2019, appear to have caused some fans to shift how they look at him. The 28-year-old is still an absolute force, though, and while Rivera also has to figure out Ereck Flowers' future and consider how Wes Martin fits into this guard equation as well, keeping Scherff in Washington has to be a top priority.

In fact, outside of reaching a solution to the Trent Williams dilemma, retaining Scherff might be the top priority as things currently stand.

Therefore, expect both sides to continue their dialogue, and if the organization senses that more time may be needed, they could use the franchise tag on Scherff to keep him where he is. Then, they can try to finish up negotiations on a long-term agreement, or play him on the tag in 2020, which would be quite expensive but still better than losing him altogether.

The last time the Redskins were involved in a franchise tag conundrum, it was messy and felt endless. If they turn to it again, however, expect the new leadership to handle it in a more professional manner.

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