- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 15, 2018

ASHBURN — Redskins coach Jay Gruden said Thursday he was glad Zach Brown is staying put. The linebacker agreed to sign a three-year deal, worth up to $24 million.

But Gruden was starting to get worried.

“We were getting a little nervous,” Gruden said. “Everybody was getting ready to sign and Zach was holding out on us, but we’re glad to have Zach back. Obviously having him a second year in this system is very important. I think he’ll be a lot more comfortable.”

Brown is returning to the Redskins after he racked up 127 tackles in 13 games last season. He missed the final three games with an Achilles injury, but was a significant factor when healthy. He added an element of speed on the Redskins’ defense, playing particularly well with Mason Foster.

Brown, one of the Redskins’ best free agency finds last year, was signed in April to a one-year, $2.3 million contract. He had missed out on the initial free agency wave after a good 2016 with the Buffalo Bills.

After another solid season in Washington, Brown wanted to be paid. The Redskins initially made him an offer during the season, but senior vice president of player personnel Doug Williams said they didn’t hear back.

This week, other high-profile linebackers like Avery Williamson and Nigel Bradham signed new deals, helping set the market for Brown. Each player landed in the $7 million to $8 million per year price range.

If Brown hits his incentives, he’ll earn a maximum of $8 million per year. Those incentives were not released.

Williams said it was important to retain Brown for his speed.

“It’s good to have him back because I think Zach was one of the most exciting players that we had on this football team that can get from point A to point B in a hurry,” Williams said. “That’s what you need. You need speed guys, and Zach exemplified that last year.”

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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