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What effect will Antonio Brown's big deal have on the Redskins and the WR market in free agency?

What effect will Antonio Brown's big deal have on the Redskins and the WR market in free agency?

Antonio Brown’s $68 million contract extension with the Steelers was good news for DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon, Kenny Britt, Alshon Jeffery, and any other good to very good wide receiver about to hit the free agent market.

The wide receiver market is of high interest to the Redskins this year. They may make an effort to sign one or both of Jackson and Garçon, their free agent pass catchers. If both end up leaving, they might need to sign a starting-caliber receiver as a replacement. They have been working internally to try to value the players who will be available but the market ultimately will determine how much they will make.

Brown got a $19 million signing bonus and he will get $29 million in new money through 2018 and $55.5 million through 2020. The deal averages $17 million per year in new money. As the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all ships and Brown getting the money that he got will boost the salaries of Jackson, Garçon, and company.

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But none of them should be expecting to make anything close to the money that Brown is making. Brown became the highest-paid receiver in NFL history because over the last four years nobody else in the league has more receptions, receiving yards, and touchdown receptions than Brown. If he’s not the best in the game, he’s close.

The other receivers are not on Brown’s level and the question is, how much below his pay level should they be because of it. For example, Britt has been in the league for eight seasons and he just eked over the thousand-yard mark for the first time last year, picking up 1,002. He had nine touchdowns in 2010, his second year in the league, and he hasn’t had more than five in a season since then. His name shouldn’t be mentioned in the same breath with Brown’s, probably not even the same paragraph.

But, despite his experience, he is relatively young (he’ll be 29 in December) and at 6-3 he has the size that teams are looking for. Britt averaged 16 years per reception over the past three years. It would be easy for his camp to point out that he played in what Todd Gurley called “a middle school offense” with the likes of Austin Davis, Shaun Hill, Case Keenum, and Jared Goff throwing him the ball.

Teams want to pay players based on what they think they will do in the future, not what they have done in the past. And it wouldn’t be surprising if a team thinks it can get $10 million worth of production out of Britt over the next few years.

A report yesterday said that the market for Stills could reach $12 million per year. That sounds like an agent-generated number. Stills has been in the league for four years and he gained 931 yards in his best season, and that was in New Orleans with Drew Brees throwing him the ball. That was his only season with over 50 receptions. Yes, he’s fast and he turns just 25 next month but $12 million seems to be a stretch.

More Redskins: Team entering uncharted waters in Cousins situation

Garçon and Jackson both turn 31 this year and they are looking for one last, big bite of the apple. They probably will look for something in the $10 million range for three or four years. Given Jackson’s speed and his incredible ball-tracking ability and Garçon’s consistent productivity, it won’t be surprising to see both of them at least come close to eight-figure territory.

Will the Redskins be willing to pay that much, whether it’s for one of their own players or for an outside free agent? They may not be planning on it but the tide that Brown lifted up may force them to.

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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Washington Football Team to play games at FedEx Field without fans

Washington Football Team to play games at FedEx Field without fans

On July 24, Executive VP and Chief Marketing Officer Terry Bateman said Washington was planning on having fans at games. Now it appears the unpredictability of the coronavirus pandemic has caused the franchise to change its mind.

After discussions with health officials from Prince George's County and the state of Maryland, the Washington Football Team announced their decision to play home games without fans during the 2020 season. 

“We are fortunate to host the best fans in the NFL year after year, but the wellbeing of those supporters, along with that of our players, coaches and each and every member of our gameday staff is simply too important, and the current knowledge of COVID-19 too unpredictable, to welcome our fan base to FedExField to start the season,” Dan Snyder said in a statement. 

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“We were the first team in the league to recall our scouts and other personnel from the field back in mid-March and have been monitoring this evolving situation ever since," Snyder said. "This decision was not an easy one, but after several discussions with federal, state and local officials – along with input from some of the nation’s foremost medical experts, based right here in the nation’s capital – we are confident that it is the right one. We are working to find ways to make our fans’ presence felt in new and innovative ways for 2020 and can’t wait to welcome the community through the gates as soon as it’s safe.”

In their announcement, the team also said they will reevaluate this decision should the situation with the coronavirus pandemic improve. They have also reached out to season ticket holders with financial alternatives to their ticket plans. Ahead of their Week 1 matchup with the Eagles on September 13, Washington plans to give fans the opportunity to virtually cheer on their favorite team. 

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3 reasons why it's better for Washington Football not to have fans at home games

3 reasons why it's better for Washington Football not to have fans at home games

The Washington Football Team announced that no fans can attend home games for the 2020 season due to COVID, and before all the jokes start, there are legitimate reasons that's actually a good thing for the organization. 

The obvious reason is safety. The coronavirus presents a real danger, particularly when thousands of people gather together. Well football games bring thousands of people together, even at FedEx Field. (Sorry, first joke.)

Now let's get to the less obvious reasons why no fans for the 2020 season is a good thing for Washington.

  1. The name change - Washington underwent a major transformation this offseason by dropping the team's old "Redskins" nickname it played with for more than 80 years. While some fans are excited about the change, plenty are upset. Some are even angry. That would have created significant issues at home games when some fans inevitably would wear old jerseys and other gear showing the old logo that the team is working hard to scrub from its home stadium. Would security ask those fans to leave? Would they confiscate items with the old logo? Would that start fights among fan groups supporting the new logo against those supporting the old logo? By 2021, it's entirely possible the team will have a new nickname and new logo, and maybe as important, the team will be more than a year removed from the controversial decision to drop Redskins. That time without fans in the stands could help cool down some hot emotions.
  2. The lack of fans - The easy joke is that Washington has been playing without fans in the stands for years. While that isn't true - there is absolutely a loud and passionate fan base at FedEx Field rooting for the home team - the stadium is often either half empty or half full of visiting fans. Multiple players over the past decade have complained about the lack of home field advantage at FedEx Field, and coaches would privately say the same thing. It's not the fans fault - FedEx Field is an old stadium that lacks modern amenities and the team has been largely awful for 2020 years. That's a recipe to drive fans away. The team also deserves a big part of the blame, whether by greed or ignorance, way too many tickets become available for sale to visiting fans. For one season, no crowd shots of empty sections or of Eagles fans or of Cowboys fans or of any other visiting team fans might actually be refreshing for fans of Washington Football. 
  3. Out with the old - Beyond fans wearing the old logo to the stadium, the team has to physically remove the old logo from almost every corner of a 70,000 seat stadium. That takes a ton of work, and because the organization made the decision to remove the name in late July, there isn't much time to get the work done. If fans were in the stadium and found an old logo still on a seat, or in a bathroom, or painted in a hallway, that would just become one more thing to mock, one more thing to post on social media, one more spark of divisiveness. With no fans for the 2020 season, Washington has ample time to rebrand their home stadium and make sure nothing gets overlooked.  

Here's the craziest part - if new head coach Ron Rivera actually gets to work with this team, and a young squad puts together an encouraging season, and Dwayne Haskins shows he is the quarterback of the future, the team could have real momentum for ticket sales in 2021. Fans will actually want to be there if they believe the team is turning around, and after a year apart, absence could even make the heart grow fonder for old FedEx Field. 

RELATED: WASHINGTON ANNOUNCES PLANS TO PLAY GAMES WITHOUT FANS

It's just one year. 

Certainly the hardcore fans will be disappointed, understandably. There are fans that go to every home game, rain or shine, through far more bad seasons than good. This will be hard for them. 

But for an organization that continues to find new meanings for the term rock bottom, a fanless 2020 season might provide a real fresh start in 2021. 

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