- The Washington Times - Monday, February 18, 2019

The Washington Redskins don’t have a player the caliber of Kirk Cousins hitting the market this year. But they do have a number of important contributors set to become free agents next month — and a limited amount of cash available to re-sign them.

Linebacker Preston Smith, safety Ha Ha Clinton Dix, wide receiver Jamison Crowder and running back Adrian Peterson are among the team’s high-profile free agents this spring. They will be able to officially negotiate with other teams starting March 11.

The reality of the NFL means they won’t all be back with the Redskins, who have less than $18 million under the League’s salary cap to spend this spring, according to Over The Cap.

Here’s a list of the team’s top five pending free agents: 

Preston Smith, outside linebacker: Smith is hitting free agency at a time when other top pass rushers will also be available. But don’t expect the Redskins to be able to retain him on a discount. Coach Jay Gruden said Smith has “earned the right” to test the market, and pass rushers usually receive top dollar.

Though Smith’s sack numbers can be inconsistent — he had just four sacks in 2018, down from eight the year before — he can still generate pressure. If Smith leaves, the Redskins have 2017 second-rounder Ryan Anderson as an in-house replacement and could look to add another pass rusher in the draft.

⦁ Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, safety: Safety is a huge position of need for the Redskins this offseason. They cut D.J. Swearinger last December and Montae Nicholson’s future status is unclear after he was put on the non-football injury list in November for a battery arrest.

That’s why re-signing Clinton-Dix could make sense. The 27-year-old did not have the impact the Redskins were hoping for when they acquired him at the trade deadline, but Gruden repeatedly praised his professionalism. Maybe a full offseason to get adjusted would help. But if Clinton-Dix signs elsewhere, it might not be a huge loss.

⦁ Adrian Peterson, running back: The Redskins and Peterson have each stated in the past they would like a reunion for next season. Now, they’re officially working toward that goal. Team president Bruce Allen told TMZ last week the two were in negotiations for a new deal.

Peterson will be 34 next month, but the Redskins believe he can be a positive influence for Derrius Guice, who missed all of last year with a torn ACL. After signing the veteran’s minimum in 2018, it will be interesting to see if Peterson earns more than that this time around.

Jamison Crowder, receiver: Standing near his locker after the season, Crowder admitted it was a “good time” to be a slot receiver. Despite an injury-plagued year, the 25-year-old still has a skill set appealing to NFL teams.

Like Smith, Crowder is expected to test the market. Trey Quinn could be an in-house replacement, though he missed 13 games last season with an ankle injury.

⦁ Josh Johnson, quarterback: The Redskins are interested in bringing back quarterback Josh Johnson, who started the last three games of the season. With Colt McCoy the only healthy quarterback under contract, Johnson’s return would help provide another arm for offseason workouts. He’s also experienced and knows Gruden’s system.

Johnson, too, figures to be affordable. He threw for 590 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions in four games last season. Before Washington, he hadn’t started a game since 2009.

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