- The Redskins have experienced some significant trouble with infections lately, with the respective recoveries of Alex Smith and Derrius Guice delayed because of post-surgery complications. Guice’s road back from a torn ACL was sidetracked by two months, but the running back is now sprinting full speed again. The LSU product revealed in a first-person recovery diary for the Redskins’ website (via J.P. Finlay of NBC Sports Washington) he has yet to cut at full speed, though. Training camp, and not OTAs, may be the goal, Finlay points out. That would not be a surprise given how quickly Guice went down last year.
- With the Broncos completing a trade for Joe Flacco — a move the Redskins explored — might Washington attempt to pursue Case Keenum? Washington’s financial obligations seem likely to prevent that, Finlay writes. Smith and Colt McCoy combine for nearly $25MM of Washington’s cap space, and Finlay expects Keenum — even in the event Denver releases him — to command a high-end backup deal. Chase Daniel‘s accord averages $5MM per year, and Keenum’s 2017 season would seemingly make him likely to surpass that. However, if Washington won’t pay a high-seven-figure sum for a veteran on Keenum’s level, pursuing Teddy Bridgewater would be difficult. If the Redskins are to chase a veteran to start over McCoy, they will likely have to at least enter high-end backup spending territory.
The Redskins may have a chance to contend for a playoff spot in 2019, but they will need a legitimate QB to get them there. Alex Smith is expected to miss the entire season (and may never play again), and while the club could re-sign Colt McCoy, it seems unlikely that McCoy can lead a playoff push.
To that end, Washington did speak with the Ravens about a potential trade for Joe Flacco before Baltimore agreed to trade Flacco to the Broncos, per Troy Renck of Denver 7 (via Twitter). Renck says that the trade with the Broncos came together quickly because of Washington’s involvement.
John Keim of ESPN.com, though, is skeptical. He concedes that the Redskins did their due diligence on Flacco, and will continue to do their due diligence on QBs on the free agent and trade markets, but the team simply could not afford to absorb Flacco’s contract since they already have so much money committed to Smith. And it’s not at though other clubs aren’t aware of Washington’s difficult cap situation, so Keim thinks it unlikely that the Broncos were worried about the Redskins’ involvement in the Flacco sweepstakes (Twitter link).
Indeed, Keim tweets that he would be surprised if the Redskins could swing a deal for any high-priced QB like Flacco or Nick Foles. Speculatively, the team could make a play for Teddy Bridgewater or Tyrod Taylor, or try to pry away restricted free agent Nate Sudfeld from the rival Eagles, but those moves would not engender a ton of excitement. Depending on how they feel about the 2019 crop of college passers, the Redskins could draft a rookie signal-caller, though they may have to trade up in the first round to get one of the top prospects.
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- Redskins video assistant Jack Gruden, the son of head coach Jay Gruden, was arrested Saturday and charged with being drunk in public, NBC 4 Sports reports (on Twitter). This occurred in Ashburn, Va., at the same area where Washington safety Montae Nicholson was arrested. Gruden, 22, was involved in three separate arguments, according to NBC Sports Washington. The Redskins are looking into the arrest. Gruden has been a Redskins staffer since 2018.
- While the Eagles may use 2019 to draft a later-round quarterback and attempt to develop him behind Carson Wentz, the team still likes what it has in Nate Sudfeld, Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia writes. Sudfeld should be expected to be Wentz’s backup post-Nick Foles, Zangaro adds. The former Redskins draft choice served as Foles’ top backup after Wentz went down in 2017 and did so again this past season.
Preston Smith has quietly put together a solid four-year run with the Redskins since Washington selected him in the second round of the 2015 draft. Although his sack production has fluctuated a bit, he has posted 24.5 sacks in his career to go along with 59 quarterback hits, and the general consensus is that he still has room to grow.
He graded out as the eighth-best 3-4 outside linebacker in the league in 2018 (and No. 19 edge defender) per Pro Football Focus, and he may very well be the best rush linebacker on the market when free agency opens in March. Although the Texans’ Jadeveon Clowney and the Chiefs’ Dee Ford may be more desirable targets, they appear destined to remain with their current clubs, either through a long-term contract or the franchise tag.
Smith does not appear to be a candidate for a tag, and John Keim of ESPN.com reports that Smith and the Redskins have still not had any meaningful contract talks. That was the case in August, and it seems that nothing has changed since then. Washington did draft Ryan Anderson in the second round of the 2017 draft, and the 2019 draft is stocked with quality pass rushers, so it could be that the Redskins are prepared to increase Anderson’s role while adding a rookie quarterback hunter or two in April.
After all, Smith is in line for a nice payday. Pro Football Focus recently projected that Ford, if he does not play the 2019 season under the tag, would land a five-year, $95MM deal with $55MM in guarantees, and while Smith may not get too close to that, a contract worth a total of $60MM or so with a sizable guarantee would not be surprising. And since the Redskins’ salary cap will be negatively impacted by the Alex Smith situation, it makes sense that the team would want to explore cheaper alternatives.
One way or another, Preston Smith’s age, production, upside, and durability — he has not missed a game in his four years as a pro, and he has started every game for Washington since 2016 — will serve him well.
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- We heard Thursday that the Redskins were interviewing Tim Rattay for their quarterbacks coach opening, and the team is indeed hiring him, they announced via Twitter. Rattay will be the replacement for former quarterbacks coach Kevin O’Connell, who earlier this month was promoted to offensive coordinator. He’s never coached in the NFL before, and has spent the previous six seasons as an assistant at Louisiana Tech. He did interview for the Raiders’ QBs coach position last offseason. As such, it’s possible Oakland head coach Jon Gruden put in a good word for Rattay with his brother, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden.
The Redskins interviewed Tim Rattay for their quarterbacks coach position today, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link), who adds Rattay has a “good chance” to land the job.
Washington is seeking to find a replacement for former quarterbacks coach Kevin O’Connell, who earlier this month was promoted to offensive coordinator. Rattay, 41, has never coached at the NFL level, but he did play in the league (primarily as a backup) from 2000-07. After retiring, Rattay worked as the wide receivers coach for the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League before joining Louisiana Tech in 2013. He coached the Bulldogs’ pass-catchers for two years before taking over as quarterbacks coach in 2015.
While Rattay hasn’t held an NFL coaching job, he did interview for the Raiders’ QBs coach position last offseason. As such, it’s possible Oakland head coach Jon Gruden put in a good word for Rattay with his brother — and Redskins head coach — Jay Gruden.
Two key Redskins players, at different points in their respective careers, have engaged in discussions with the team about new deals.
Adrian Peterson has participated in preliminary talks with the Redskins, John Keim of ESPN.com notes, adding Brandon Scherff — under contract via fifth-year option in 2019 — has been in discussions with Washington about his next contract.
Peterson has said on multiple occasions he would like to return to the Redskins. The future Hall of Famer was a free agent throughout the 2018 offseason. Derrius Guice‘s injury led Peterson to Washington, and he responded with his eighth 1,000-yard rushing season. He also played all 16 games for just the second time in the past six seasons, the other being when he won the 2015 rushing title.
Guice, though, is expected to be healthy for the 2019 season. The Redskins also have passing-down back Chris Thompson under contract. Peterson’s skill set would seemingly overlap with Guice’s, but the soon-to-be 34-year-old back is obviously the more proven NFL runner and could be used in a timeshare with the LSU alum.
Scherff’s salary will spike from $6.8MM to $12.5MM this season. An extension would help the Redskins lower that cap number by a bit and help a team that will carry Alex Smith‘s contract in addition to a potential extra veteran starter-level salary, perhaps similar to the Dolphins’ 2017 Ryan Tannehill–Jay Cutler setup.
It’s also possible the Redskins do not look to the veteran market to fill in for Smith. Washington is “looking hard” at quarterback prospects and continues to believe in Colt McCoy, Keim adds, pointing out a cheaper bridge-type option may be the better bet for Washington than a veteran starter.
An upper-echelon guard since coming into the league, Scherff can be expected to command a deal in the neighborhood of the highest-paid guards in the NFL. Zack Martin and Andrew Norwell became the NFL’s first guards to sign for $13MM-plus per year. Washington, though, already has Trent Williams and Morgan Moses signed to high-end deals and holds barely $20MM in cap space. Navigating toward a Scherff extension won’t be easy.
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This is the time of year when NFL veterans tend to ponder retirement. That’s not the case for running back Adrian Peterson, however, who turns 34 in March.
“I’ll be playing next year for sure,” Peterson told TMZ. “Maybe two or three more years.”
Of course, it takes two to tango and there’s no guarantee that the free-agent-to-be will find a home for 2019. Even if he does, few running backs outside Frank Gore have been able to keep it going in the mid-30s.
The Redskins signed Peterson last season after losing rookie Derrius Guice to injury. Peterson silenced the doubters by running for 1,042 yards off of 251 carries, good for a 4.2 yards per carry average. The YPC was his best posting since 2015. He also added seven touchdowns on the ground and 20 catches for 208 yards and one TD over the air.
With nearly 3,000 carries under his belt, and a clear desire for significant playing time, it remains to be seen whether Peterson will find a good fit this offseason. For what it’s worth, there appears to be mutual interest in a new deal in D.C.
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One of the best stories of the 2018 NFL season was Josh Johnson. The longtime journeyman quarterback finally got a chance to start his first game since the 2011 season, and immediately sparked the slumping Redskins. The injuries Washington had suffered ultimately proved too severe to overcome, but Johnson still looked pretty good for someone seeing his first live action in seven years who was signed cold off the street. Now, it looks like Johnson could be back with Washington next year.
The team is working on bringing Johnson back, Redskins team president Bruce Allen told JP Finlay of NBC Sports (Twitter link). Word came out recently that the Redskins were expecting Alex Smith to miss the entire 2019 season, so it’s not surprising they’d want to have as many bodies at quarterback as possible. With only Colt McCoy on the roster, it’s not inconceivable that Johnson could have a chance to be Washington’s starter next year.
- Speaking of possible suspensions, Goodell also weighed in on Reuben Foster‘s situation. In the same tweet, Rapoport wrote that Goodell said “just because his charge was dropped doesn’t mean he won’t be suspended.” Foster recently saw the charges dropped for his most recent arrest, but he’s apparently not out of the woods yet. Goodell also said that he plans to speak in person with Foster again before making a decision, according to Mark Maske of the Washington Post. Foster was claimed off waivers by the Redskins after the 49ers cut him late in the season, but he’s been on the exempt list ever since.
- The Redskins recently promoted quarterbacks coach Kevin O’Connell to offensive coordinator, but that doesn’t mean head coach Jay Gruden is giving up play-calling duties. Redskins team president Bruce Allen said during a recent radio appearance that as of now the plan is still for Gruden to call the plays, according to John Keim of ESPN.com. Allen did leave the door open for things to change, and other sources told Keim that a change is still in play.