- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 12, 2018

Outside of adding wide receiver Paul Richardson, the Redskins remained mostly quiet in free agency this year. While Washington also re-signed some of their own players, veterans Orlando Scandrick and Pernell McPhee were the Redskins’ two other notable signings.

The team’s conservative approach can be explained.

The Redskins are likely saving their money to address some of their own players who will need extensions in the upcoming future, if the team wants to keep them.

Washington has shown a willingness to extend players before they hit the market — Kirk Cousins notwithstanding. Last season, the team re-signed running back Chris Thompson and cornerback Quinton Dunbar to multi-year deals well ahead of free agency.

With that in mind, here are three Redskins in line for a new deal:

Brandon Scherff, guard

2018 cap hit: $6.75 million

Deal expires: 2020

The Redskins picked up Scherff’s fifth-year option, worth $12.5 million, in April — so Scherff is under contract through the 2019 season, as well.

But there’s still some urgency in getting a deal done now. Since being drafted with the fifth overall pick in 2015, Scherff has become one of the league’s best guards. The Redskins would prefer not to negotiate with unrestricted free agency looming as a backdrop.

Scherff, though, is in-line for a major payday. Cowboys right guard Zack Martin received a six-year, $84 million extension ($40 million) guaranteed in June to make him the highest-paid guard in the NFL. Andrew Norwell, meanwhile, signed a five-year, $66.5 million ($30 million guaranteed) deal in free agency with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Both were drafted a year before Scherff. 

There are eight guards, according to Spotrac.com, who make an average of at least $10 million per year.

Jamison Crowder, wide receiver

2018 cap hit: $2.04 million

Deal expires: 2019

If left unsigned, Crowder will become a free agent after this upcoming season. In his first three years with the Redskins, Crowder has emerged as a reliable slot receiver with speed.

Crowder, a fourth-round pick in 2015, slightly regressed last year in both yards and touchdowns. But the 25-year-old fought through a nagging hamstring injury, which limited him at times. Crowder finished with 66 receptions for 789 yards and three touchdowns.

The market for slot receivers has been manageable in recent years, though could be trending upward. Dallas’ Cole Beasley agreed to a four-year, $13.6 million contract in 2015, while Miami signed Albert Wilson to a three-year, $24 million($14.5 million guaranteed) this offseason.

Coach Jay Gruden said he thinks Crowder will benefit from the addition of Richardson and Josh Doctson taking another step forward.

Preston Smith, outside linebacker

2018 cap hit: $1.8 million

Deal expires: 2019

Smith has been a boom-or-bust type of pass rusher since being drafted in the second round in 2015. Last year, the 25-year-old was “boom” — recording a career-high eight sacks.

Opposite of Ryan Kerrigan, Smith thrived in defensive coordinator Greg Manusky’s new scheme.

Smith’s production, however, included a stretch where the linebacker had just half a sack in eight straight games. But Smith finished strong — with three sacks in his last three outings.

Sacks aren’t everything, either. Smith led the league in pressure rate (15.9 percent) among players who had more than 200 pass rush plays, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.

“I really think he has got a chance of being a dynamic outside linebacker in the National Football League for years to come,” Gruden said. “He’s on the right path and I think he can get better and better.”

Smith might want to hit free agency because pass-rushers are heavily sought after when they hit the market. Even former Redskins linebacker Trent Murphy, who missed the 2017 season with a torn ACL, signed a three-year, $22.5 million ($10.4 million guaranteed) with the Buffalo Bills in March.


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