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Will the Redskins bring back WR Pierre Garçon in '16?

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Will the Redskins bring back WR Pierre Garçon in '16?

In less than a year, the Redskins completed a stunning turnaround, ascending from a laughingstock in 2014 to a division champion in 2015. But now comes the difficult part: taking that all-important next step and improving from a franchise that was fortunate to get into the playoffs to one that can do some damage once it gets there. And that work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players.

In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will examine the 25 biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

No. 9

Will the Redskins bring back Pierre Garçon?

Tandler: In a world where personnel decisions were made based solely on football criteria there would be no question that Pierre Garçon would return to the Redskins in 2016. He was second on the team with 72 receptions for 777 yards and six touchdowns. He made some clutch plays including a tough catch in the end zone for the game-winning touchdown against the Eagles. Garçon sets a great example for younger players in terms preparation and competitiveness.

But we don’t live in that on-field only world. It’s a salary capped world and money matters. Garçon’s 2016 cap number is $10.2 million. Only 12 wide receivers have a higher cap number this year and given that he represents a questionable value. His 72 receptions tied for 33rd in the NFL and the 777 receiving yards were 45th.

Will the Redskins get enough production out of Garçon in 2016 to justify the $10.2 million cap number or are they better off adding the $8 million savings from releasing him to their available cap space? The easy thing to say is save the $8 million, that’s a good chunk of cash. But it’s not that easy.

Who will replace those 777 receiving yards and six touchdowns? Ryan Grant or Rashad Ross? Certainly not this year, if ever. A draft pick? The draft is short on receiver prospects who can be productive as rookies and there is unlikely to be one available when the Redskins are on the clock with the 21st pick. The free agent class is thin and a receiver who can be as productive as Garçon will cost you at least a much as Garçon.

Sometimes you have to overpay to get what you need. I see Garçon playing out the last year of his contract while McCloughan drafts a mid round prospect or two for the coaches to groom as his successor.

El-Bashir: Let’s start with a little math. Garcon’s cap hit for 2016 is $10.2 million—or the 13th highest cap charge among all NFL wide receivers, according to spotrac.com. Last season, meanwhile, Garcon was tied for 29th in receiving touchdowns (6), tied for 33rd in receptions (72) and was 45th in yards (777).

So let’s see…13th highest cap charge next season in exchange for 33rd in receptions (and second on his own team to Jordan Reed’s 87). Something’s out of whack, right?

Based on the numbers above, it appears that the Redskins aren’t getting their money’s worth. Buuuuut ....different players have different values for different teams. And that's the situation the Redskins are confronted with when it comes to Garcon, I think. 

He’s a productive player and, at 29 years old, he's got another good year (or three) left in the tank if he stays healthy. He’s also exactly what GM scot McCloughan says he wants for the Redskins—a tough player who is passionate about the game and can be counted on in the clutch.

I don’t suspect Garcon would accept a pay cut because he knows that he'd easily get another big payday elsewhere. I also don’t think the Redskins would be able to get similar production from a reserve currently on the roster, a draft pick or a lower priced free agent. In fact, if McCloughan went into the market to sign a player comparable to Garcon, he’d probably end up spending a similar amount of money, while taking on a lot of uncertainties with regard to injury history, scheme/locker room fit, etc.

That’s a long-winded way of saying I agree with Tandler on this one. Garcon, indeed, comes with a hefty price tag. But his value to the Redskins—not to mention his importance to an emerging quarterback who needs weapons around him to succeed—I see Garcon playing at least one more season in Washington. 

25 Questions series

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Redskins 2018 position outlook: Defensive line

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Redskins 2018 position outlook: Defensive line

Redskins 2018 position outlook: Defensive line

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

Defensive line

Additions: Daron Payne (drafted in first round), Tim Settle (drafted in fifth round)
Departures: Terrell McClain (released)

Starters: Payne (NT), Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis
Other roster locks: Stacy McGee, Anthony Lanier, Settle
On the bubble: Ziggy Hood, Phil Taylor

How the defensive line compares

To the rest of the NFL: We are going to have to see about this. Over the last couple of years the D-line has been transformed from an aging group into one where youth is in good supply. Ioannidis is the oldest of the starters at age 24. Allen is 23 and Payne just turned 21 in May. It looks like there is great potential there but we haven’t seen enough of it on the field to make solid comparisons to other lines around the league. Allen missed 10 games of his rookie year with an injury and Ioannidis missed two and was hampered in a few more with a broken hand. Payne, of course, is a rookie. Let’s check back in late October and see how things are going then. 

To the 2017 Redskins:  The primary reason that the line should be significantly better this year is the presence of Payne and Settle on the roster. That means that it is very unlikely that Hood will have to play nose tackle. He has been the starter there for the past two years, forced there by injuries. Jim Tomsula that Hood is not well suited to play the nose. So they have an improvement there. If they get a mostly healthy season out of Allen and if Ioannidis continue to improve this will be the best defensive line they have had since moving to the 3-4 defensive in 2010. 

2018 outlook

Biggest upside: As noted, Payne just turned 21. He seems to have a rare understanding of the game for a rookie. You often see rookies just trying to survive on physical ability early one. Payne has plenty of that, but he also seems to realize that strength and ability alone won’t let him thrive at this level. He pays close attention to his technique during drills, making sure he does things the right way the first time. If he builds on this for the next year or so the Redskins could have a legitimate star. 

Most to prove: Since so many Redskins fans are accustomed to seeing veteran defensive linemen the team signs as free agents play poorly, they automatically put McGee in the “bust” category. But many of his teammates said he was the most consistent player on the line last year. It’s safe to say that he played better than the popular perception. Next year, he will carry a $4.8 million salary cap number and like most players who are not starters but making good salaries, he will need to play well enough to justify that cap number.  

Rookie watch: The Redskins did not expect Settle to be available in the fifth round and he was too good to pass up when he was still on the board. He should get some opportunity as a rookie. He is likely to be the only other nose tackle on the roster besides Payne (sorry, but the numbers make it unlikely that Phil Taylor will make the roster). That could have him active on many game days and that usually means getting some snaps in the rotation. We will see what he can do with his chances. 

Bottom line: The Redskins were last in the league in rushing defense in 2017. It wasn’t all on the line—in particular, injuries to the inside linebackers hurt a lot—but the simple fact is that the organization long neglected the line. The philosophy was to create a patchwork unit from aging free agents. That has changed now with three homegrown players set to start and Settle and 2016 undrafted free agent find Anthony Lanier providing reserve help. It’s going to be a better unit, no question. But improvement over the last several years is a low bar and we’ll find out if this develops into a quality line over the next few months. 

Quote-unquote

Greg Manusky on Payne:

Payne is doing a great job. He’s trying to get acclimated to some of the calls, hasn’t had a lot of mental errors. He’s done a great job. Physical player.

2018 position outlook series

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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10 Questions in 10 days: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart

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10 Questions in 10 days: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart

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. 

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

The Redskins top two linebackers rank among the most productive units in the NFL. When healthy, Mason Foster and Zach Brown are highly efficient tacklers. In fact, Brown led the league in tackles for most of 2017 before his season ended with a foot injury. 

The healthy part is the trick. 

Last year, Foster separated his shoulder against the Rams in Week 2 and was shut down for the season by October. Brown played through nagging injuries all year before shutting things down in December. 

When both players were on the field, the Redskins defense excelled. In just four starts, Foster made 30 tackles to go with an interception, a fumble recovery and half a sack. Brown logged double-digit tackles in nine games last season, and probably would have more without the foot trouble. 

Foster and Brown are very good in the Redskins scheme, and both players are expected to be fully healthy for the start of training camp. Their injuries from last season are not the type that suggest durability concerns, and both players posted full 16-game seasons in 2016.

Foster and Brown aren't the question. The depth chart after Foster and Brown are the question. 

Zach Vigil, Martrell Spaight, Josh Harvey-Clemons and rookie Shaun Dion Hamilton are competing for two or possibly three roster spots. 

Spaight is the most recognizable name in the group. He's been a good special teams player for Washington, and is well liked in the locker room. By last December, however, Vigil was playing better football. 

More telling for both Vigil and Spaight was that Harvey-Clemons took the starter reps alongside Foster when Brown was absent during OTAs. The second-year man out of Louisville has more physical gifts than either Vigil or Spaight, and now given a full year to learn to play linebacker, Harvey-Clemons could make inroads.

A safety in college, Harvey-Clemons can run. He was a bit of a surprise last season making the 53-man roster out of camp, so expect him to definitely have a shot this year. 

Hamilton will be the wild card. An ultra-talented player out of Alabama, he dealt with a number of injuries in college. Redskins VP Doug Williams talked gushingly about Hamilton after the draft, and if the former 5-Star recruit can stay healthy, he could certainly push for a spot as well. 

Prior to 2017, the Redskins kept four inside linebackers on their final 53 roster. In 2017, the team kept five: Brown, Foster, Spaight, Will Compton and Harvey-Clemons. Compton left via free agency and is now playing in Nashville. 

Foster and Brown are roster locks, and it seems like Harvey-Clemons gets the third nod. 

Spaight, Vigil and Hamilton better be ready for serious competition in Richmond. 

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