Around the league were are starting to see a number of teams extending quality players before they hit unrestricted free agency next year. Already the Redskins have added another year to the contract of back-up QB Colt McCoy (though there is language that could void it in the right circumstances), but should the Redskins aim higher. There can be some strong advantages to signing a guy early rather than late, as you will typically get a discount than if you wait a year or two. Also, if a player has a particularly strong year they could see their price jump into an even higher range than you would have projected. The downside with signing a guy early is that the price could potentially drop with a below average year or an injury filled year. There hasn’t been a lot of talk about it yet, but the Redskins do have a couple players they could consider extending before the season starts.
-To be clear Brandon Scherff isn’t going anywhere. He’s not an impending free agent after the year as the Redskins hold the 5th year option on him. While he’s scheduled for unrestricted free agency in 2020, he is a prime candidate for the Franchise tag, and they Redskins could go that route for two years if needed. While there is little concern of him leaving the Redskins any time soon, Washington would be wise to start working to lock him up now rather than go through the option year and franchise tag years. Not only do you risk alienating the player by going in that direction, but the longer the Redskins wait the higher the price will be on a player like Scherff.
It’s going to get pricey for a Scherff extension as we’ve seen Andrew Norwell sign a 5 year $66.5M contract ($13.3 AAV) in free agency and the Cowboys extend Zach Martin with a 6 year $84M deal ($14M AAV). If the Redskins were to sign Scherff right now they could probably get him at an AAV between Norwell and Martin, around $13.5M a year. If they wait till after this upcoming season though and Scherff continues to play better and better, his AAV could top Martin. If the Redskins were to wait two years to negotiate it will even go higher. Waiting for next year is a possibility, but locking up Scherff for a 6 year deal buying out his option year and adding 5 years, would make a lot of sense.
-At first glance worrying about a Smith extension seems a bit premature as he’s been good, but not great for the Redskins and he’s been a bit inconsistent. While his sack totals of 8, 4, and 8 in his first three seasons don’t seem overly impressive, he has shown the ability to put up good pressure numbers as well. The issue for the Redskins is that when it comes to pass rushers you really either need to draft them early or spend a good chunk of money to find even an above average one. So unless the Redskins feel that Ryan Anderson can really become a quality EDGE player, they will be forced to use a high pick (likely the 1st rounder) or spend a lot of money on the position.
Edge rushers get pretty healthy contracts on the free agent market with production less than what Smith has produced. Former Redskin Trent Murphy was coming off a suspension and a serious injury, yet he still landed a 3 year $22.5M ($7.5M AAV) contract with incentives that could push it up to a $29.5M deal. Vinny Curry, was cut from the Eagles and hasn’t topped 3.5 sacks in the last three years, yet he still landed a 3 year $23M deal ($7.67M AAV) with incentives that could push it to a $27M deal. So if you’d need to pay that much for guys like that, why not pay a bit more to just retain Smith. Especially since you could probably get him for around $9M a year average if you signed him now during the offseason. I think this is a deal that would make sense for the Redskins as they don’t have a lot of depth at the position and it would become a major need if they let him walk.
-Crowder has been a consistent producer for the Redskins and a great value as a 4th round pick, amassing 2,200 yards and 12 TDs on 192 catches in three years. Considering he’s typically been the 2nd-4th option on the team in that time, those are pretty good numbers. Crowder is the only receiver with any experience who should be deployed in the slot (though 7th round rookie Trey Quinn is a natural slot option), and he’s proven to be a pretty tough match-up for most slot corners. The question is do the Redskins consider extending him or do they let him hit free agency next year.
While the Redskins don’t have any mega receiver contracts, they do have some decent money invested now in Paul Richardson and if Josh Doctson continues to develop they will eventually need to give him a healthy raise. The Redskins also have a decent chunk of money tied into their tight ends Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis. That could change quickly as Reed is probably playing for his contract future this season, and Davis could either retire or be released after this year.
Slot receivers (not named Jarvis Landry) typically get receive lower contracts than receivers who work on the outside, so an extension for Crowder shouldn’t break the bank. This offseason Albert Wilson received a 3 year $24M deal ($8M AAV), so that would likely be the floor for any Crowder extension. I think given that Crowder has produced more, they would have to offer closer to a $9M AAV, but that could be the vicinity that Crowder would work with. Though it does seem like a lot, it would make sense to try to keep the receiver core together these next few years with Alex Smith, particularly since the tight ends could change by next year (or the year after).
What do you think? Should the Redskins re-sign any of these three key starters this offseason, or should they wait on all of these deals?