Redskins

Quick Links

Need to Know: Will LB Zach Brown's visit to Redskins Park end with a contract?

Need to Know: Will LB Zach Brown's visit to Redskins Park end with a contract?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, April 3, 24 days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/17) 14
—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 39
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 51
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 103
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 151

Will the Zach Brown visit lead to a contract?

The Redskins are scheduled to bring linebacker Zach Brown in for a visit today.

As we all have learned, a visit does not necessarily mean a signing. It may not even mean serious interest in the part of the Redskins. This could be a favor to his agent to try to wake up the Raiders, who seem to be dragging their feet after they seemed to be near a deal a week ago. Or perhaps the Redskins will make a serious bid and end up signing him.

If he signs a one-year deal, which seems to be a trend this year among players who aren’t getting what they want in long-term deals, it would be his second such contract in a row. Brown will be 28 around midseason and he should perhaps try to get some security on a multi-year deal instead facing the prospect of playing for his fourth different team in four seasons in 2018. It’s hard for a player to realize his potential with such a lack of stability.

Should Brown sign, he likely would become the starter at Mo linebacker (or whatever Greg Manusky calls the inside LB who isn’t the Mike). The five-year veteran could bring an element of speed and athleticism that is lacking at the position. Mason Foster, who finished last year strong as the nickel linebacker after Su’a Cravens was injured, could return to that role with Cravens moving to safety.

MORE REDSKINS: Will Compton plays a sick April Fools prank on Redskins fans

Brown was a playmaker last year, with an interception, two forced fumbles, and four sacks for the Bills. For his career he has seven picks, four forced fumbles, and 14 sacks.

Back to a potential contract, the Redskins have about $11.3 million in salary cap space. They would have a tough time signing him to a one-year deal for $5-$6 million, the salary range he reportedly has been seeking. That would leave them very tight on cap space. They need about $2 million to sign their draft picks. A $5 million hit would possibly have them needing to restructure or renegotiate some contracts to have enough of a cushion to get through the season.

If they can get him to agree to a multiyear deal, however, they could squeeze a three-year contract averaging $5 million per year into about $3 million in 2017 cap space. That would be something they should take a serious look at as Brown would be an upgrade on a defense that can use all the improvement it can get.

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.

Tandler on Twitter

In case you missed it

Quick Links

Redskins 2018 position outlook: Inside linebacker

z_brown_tackle_vs_oak_youngentob.jpg
Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

Redskins 2018 position outlook: Inside linebacker

Redskins Training camp opens next week, and we have a break here, giving us time to put the depth chart under the microscope.

Between now and the start of camp, we will look at every position, compare the group to the rest of the NFL, see if the position has been upgraded or downgraded from last year, and take out the crystal ball to see what might unfold.

Inside linebackers

Additions: Shaun Dion Hamilton (drafted in the fifth round)

Departures: Will Compton (free agent)

Starters: Zach Brown, Mason Foster

Other roster locks: Josh Harvey-Clemons

On the bubble: Hamilton, Zach Vigil, Martrell Spaight

How the inside linebackers compare

To the rest of the NFL: This is a difficult comparison to make since only about half of the teams use the 3-4 with two inside linebackers and there are many variations when they go out of their base defense. Brown certainly is in the upper tier of players at his position. Foster’s skill set may not be coveted by many teams around the league, but he is a perfect fit in the Redskins’ defense in many ways. The player who could differentiate this group from others around the league is Harvey-Clemons. If he turns into a top-notch nickel LB the inside linebackers will be a great asset. 

To the 2017 Redskins:  This is about health. In 2017, Foster missed 11 games, Brown was hampered by a variety of injuries before sitting out the last three games. Compton was the top backup to both players and he went to injured reserve after just three starts. They did re-sign Vigil, who had spent training camp with the team, and he played pretty well near the end of the season. If the front-line players can stay on the field for most of the season this should be a much better group than the one that was partially responsible for the league’s 32nd-ranked rushing defense. 

2018 Inside linebacker outlook

Biggest upside: The 2017 season was supposed to be a redshirt year for Harvey-Clemons as he transitions from college safety to NFL linebacker. He played a lot in the base defense during the offseason practices and that indicates that they are considering him for a bigger role beyond just playing nickel. You have to wonder how his size (6-4, 230) will affect his ability to get off of blocks. 

Most to prove: Spaight was a fifth-round pick in 2015 and he has yet to establish a regular role in the defense. It was telling that when they needed someone to start in the latter part of last year they brought back and started Vigil and mostly kept Spaight is going into the last year of his contract, but it would not be surprising to see Vigil beat him out for the last roster spot.  

Rookie watch: The Redskins traded up in the sixth round to get Hamilton. It wasn’t a blockbuster deal but the fact that they thought enough of him to move up says something. Gruden has said that he thinks Hamilton could be a starter at some point. He was one of the leaders on a strong Alabama defense before injuries struck. Hamilton is not going to start this year barring multiple injuries, but he should develop a role as the season goes on and be ready to compete in 2019.

Bottom line: The Redskins have not invested much in terms of free agent dollars or draft capital in the inside linebacker position in recent seasons. That changed somewhat this offseason as they made sure to spend to retain Brown and Foster. Neither commanded a huge contract but they did make a commitment and that is important. Last year Brown gave the defense a sideline-to-sideline dimension it hasn’t had in quite some time and retaining him was critical. Inside linebacker may not be a major strength for the defense this year but it should be able to get the job done. 

2018 Redskins position outlook series


 

Quick Links

10 Questions in 10 days: Is Shawn Lauvao the concern, or is the issue bigger on the O-Line?

lauvao_usat.png
USA TODAY Sports

10 Questions in 10 days: Is Shawn Lauvao the concern, or is the issue bigger on the O-Line?

With Redskins Training Camp set to begin July 26th, JP Finlay takes a look at 10 of the most pressing questions for the Burgundy and Gold before the team heads to Richmond. 

No. 10: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart 

No. 9: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

No. 8: More investments on D-Line, but who goes where?

No. 7: Do the Redskins have a 1,000-yard WR?

No. 6: Is Shawn Lauvao the concern, or is the issue bigger on the O-Line?

Right or wrong, fans blamed Shawn Lauvao for much of the Redskins struggles on the offensive line last season. Pro Football Focus backs up the fans, as Lauvao landed a -19.1 grade, among the worst in the NFL at the guard spot. 

It's worth pointing out that Lauvao was playing hurt during much of his nine starts before getting shut down for the season just before Thanksgiving. In fact, injuries have probably been the biggest issue for Lauvao in his four seasons with the Redskins. 

In four seasons in Washington, Lauvao has never played a full 16-game slate. Last year he played just nine games, and in 2015 he only played three games. 

That points to what may be the bigger issue for the Redskins: offensive line depth. Last season was wild with the grotesque number of injuries Washington sustained up front. It seems almost impossible for the team to have that many injuries again.

Still, the Redskins lost Arie Kouandjio for the year in the offseason. Kouandjio played better last year than Lauvao, and having both men in Richmond would have provided real competition. 

And that might be the biggest question: Neither Lauvao or Kouandjio represent a difference maker at left guard, yet the team did little to address the position. 

All offseason, the Washington brass walked a fine line between confidence and arrogance. The organization believes strongly in the players they already have, and outside of signing Paul Richardson and re-signing Zach Brown, the team had a quiet offseason. The Redskins struggled to run the ball the last few years, and still, the team did not look to upgrade at LG. 

It's important to note that the Redskins have two All-Pro caliber offensive linemen in Trent Williams and Brandon Scherff. Morgan Moses is a plus at the right tackle spot too. The team likes Chase Roullier at center too, and they tried to add depth in drafting Geron Christian in the third round and bringing back swing tackle backup Ty Nsekhe as a restricted free agent. 

Left guard will be a question, and it's hard not to think that it will be the weakest position on the O-line. Should that submarine the group? It shouldn't. What if Lauvao gets hurt?  Then things get quite tricky.

For the Redskins, however, the expectation might be that the line needs to perform as a unit, and with talent like Williams and Scherff, that should cover up any weaknesses.

Time, and health will tell if that plan works. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

#REDSKINSTALK PODCAST

Don't forget to subscribe to the #RedskinsTalk podcast, hosted by JP Finlay.

Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below.