Washington NFL Rumors & News

Top 3 Offseason Needs: Washington Redskins

In advance of March 9, the start of free agency in the NFL, Pro Football Rumors will detail each team’s three most glaring roster issues. We’ll continue this year’s series with the Washington Redskins, who narrowly missed a Wild Card berth after finishing with a 8-7-1 record.

Depth Chart (via Roster Resource)

Pending Free Agents:

Top 10 Cap Hits for 2017:

  1. Josh Norman, CB: $20,000,000
  2. Trent Williams, T: $15,200,000
  3. Ryan Kerrigan, LB: $11,700,000
  4. Jordan Reed, TE: $5,800,000
  5. Brandon Scherff, G: $5,786,083
  6. DeAngelo Hall, S: $5,062,500
  7. Shawn Lauvao, G: $5,000,000
  8. Kory Lichtensteiger, C: $4,050,000
  9. Ricky Jean-Francois, DL: $4,000,000
  10. Colt McCoy, QB: $3,600,000

Other:

Three Needs:

1) Commit to Kirk Cousins: The Redskins are reportedly willing to use the franchise tag on quarterback Kirk Cousins for a second consecutive year, a move that would guarantee the sixth-year signal-caller nearly $24MM for the 2017 campaign. Cousins would likely sign the tender immediately (as he did last offseason), as the two one-year pacts would net him ~$44MM over a two-year period. From Washington’s perspective, however, continuing to employ the franchise tag doesn’t make much sense.Kirk Cousins (Vertical)

Had the Redskins worked out a long-term extension with Cousins last offseason, the club would have likely been forced to guarantee something in the neighborhood of $45MM — roughly the same total he’ll earn from 2016-17 if franchised again — over the life of the contract. Cam Newton received $41MM in guarantees under the terms of his extension signed in June 2015, while Andrew Luck got $47MM fully guaranteed one year later (Aaron Rodgers still ranks first among quarterbacks with $54MM guaranteed). Because Washington is clearly willing to hand Cousins a significant amount of guaranteed cash, an extension is the best outcome for both parties.

Clearly, however, hindsight is 20/20, and there were legitimate reasons not to extend Cousins at this time last year. Cousins was coming off an excellent season, to be sure, but it was his first year as a full-time NFL starter, and there was some concern that he was simply a product of an effectively-schemed Redskins offense. Had Washington locked up Cousins for the long haul, only to see him turn back into a pumpkin this season, management would have been the subject much scorn. But the 28-year-old Cousins largely backed up his results this year, completing 67% of his passes for nearly 5,000 yards, 25 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions, while ranking third in DYAR and fifth in DVOA.Jay Gruden (Vertical)

Head coach Jay Gruden has found his franchise quarterback, and while Cousins may not a be a top-five signal-caller, he’s certainly among the league’s top-12 QBs, making him an extremely valuable asset. The Redskins aren’t going to start over the position — as usual, there is no quarterback talent available on the free agent market, and a win-now club like Washington isn’t going to turn over its fortunes over to a rookie passer. Getting Cousins, who places first on PFR’s 2017 Free Agent Power Rankings, under contract for the foreseeable future is the logical next step.

Cousins is reportedly targeting $23.94MM — the same total he’d garner under the franchise tag — annually, a figure that would make him the third-highest paid quarterback in the league on a per-year basis. Over the course of a five-year contract, Washington would be paying Cousins nearly $120MM, and given that recent quarterback contracts have included 35-40% fully guaranteed, Cousins would be looking at $45MM in guarantees. It’s a huge total, but contract negotiations are based as much on timing as they are on talent. Cousins has played the free agency game correctly by betting on himself, and he’s now poised to cash in.

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Redskins Interview John Pagano For DC

The Redskins today interviewed incumbent Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano for the same role on their staff, according to John Keim of ESPN.com. Pagano hasn’t officially been released from his contract in San Diego, but given that the Chargers are not only conducting interviews to replace him, but allowed him to meet with Washington, it’s fair to assume Pagano won’t be coaching in San Diego next season.John Pagano

[RELATED: 2017 Offensive/Defensive Coordinator Search Tracker]

Pagano, 49, has spent his entire NFL coaching career with the Chargers, working his way up from defensive quality control to defensive coordinator, assuming the latter position in 2012. In his first four years on the job, the Chargers didn’t post a better defensive DVOA ranking than 18th, and finished last in the NFL in 2013. The defense turned in its best Pagano-led showing in 2016 (eighth), but that wasn’t enough to persuade new San Diego head coach Anthony Lynn to retain Pagano.

The Redskins’ search for a new defensive coordinator has become the most exhaustive hunt for a play-caller in the league, on either side of the ball. Counting Pagano, Washington has now been linked to 10 candidates as it looks for former DC Joe Barry‘s replacement. While former Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley was at one time viewed as the leading candidate, the Redskins have also expressed interest in three former Rob Ryan disciples (Rex Ryan, Dennis Thurman, and Mike Pettine), 49ers linebackers coach Jason Tarver, and will meet with their own LBs coach, Greg Manusky.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams Could Hire Redskins' Aubrey Pleasant

  • Redskins assistant defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant is likely to join ex-Washington offensive coordinator and now-Rams head coach Sean McVay‘s staff in Los Angeles, tweets Sporting News’ Alex Marvez. However, a deal isn’t done yet, notes Master Tesfatsion of the Washington Post (Twitter link). The Redskins want to retain Pleasant, who just finished his fourth season with the club.

Redskins To Interview Dennis Thurman For DC

Continuing to cast a wide net in their search for a defensive coordinator, the Redskins will interview Dennis Thurman for the position, per reports from Josh Reed of WIVB and Mike Jones of the Washington Post (Twitter link).

Dennis Thurman

The 60-year-old Thurman spent the past four seasons working as ex-head coach Rex Ryan‘s defensive coordinator, first with the Jets and then the Bills. The two had success in New York, but the elite defense they inherited in Buffalo in 2015 declined sharply on their watch. After finishing second in the league in defensive DVOA in 2014, the Bills ranked 24th and 26th the past two years. Washington ended this season 25th, which helped lead to the firing of D-coordinator Joe Barry.

While his two-year tenure in Buffalo didn’t go well, Thurman wasn’t the mastermind behind its defense. That distinction belonged to Ryan, who brought in his twin brother, Rob Ryan, to work with him and Thurman in 2016. Rob has also interviewed for the job in Washington. As PFR’s Coordinator Tracker shows, the Redskins have six candidates to replace Barry on their radar. Another of those coaches, Mike Pettine, is also a Rex Ryan disciple.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Redskins Requested To Interview Romeo Crennel

  • The Redskins expressed interest in meeting with Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel about their DC position, but Washington’s request was denied, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.com. Crennel has since been promoted to assistant head coach, as linebackers coach Mike Vrabel will take over Houston’s coordinator role. Crennel’s contract was set to expire later this month, but the 69-year-old wouldn’t have had any interest in jobs with other clubs.

NFLPA Announces Cap Carryover Amounts

The NFL Players Association has announced all 32 teams’ salary cap carryover amounts for the 2017 season (Twitter link). Next season’s cap figure isn’t yet known, but it’s likely to be in the $165MM range. When that becomes official, it can be added to each team’s carryover amount to determine that club’s official spending room for 2017.

Here are this year’s carryover totals:

  1. Cleveland Browns: $50,123,269
  2. Jacksonville Jaguars: $39,314,310
  3. San Francisco 49ers: $38,708,916
  4. Tennessee Titans: $24,046,522
  5. Washington Redskins: $15,055,131
  6. Carolina Panthers: $13,208,020
  7. Miami Dolphins: $8,363,708
  8. Chicago Bears: $8,103,197
  9. Oakland Raiders: $8,000,000
  10. Green Bay Packers: $7,984,687
  11. Philadelphia Eagles: $7,933,869
  12. Denver Broncos: $7,243,248
  13. Indianapolis Colts: $6,614,106
  14. Cincinnati Bengals: $6,578,866
  15. New Orleans Saints: $5,754,000
  16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: $5,330,779
  17. New England Patriots: $5,292,335
  18. Kansas City Chiefs: $5,002,168
  19. Houston Texans: $4,935,924
  20. Detroit Lions: $4,725,644
  21. Arizona Cardinals: $4,405,068
  22. Pittsburgh Steelers: $3,269,367
  23. Buffalo Bills: $2,837,222
  24. Baltimore Ravens: $2,553,126
  25. Dallas Cowboys: $2,401,553
  26. Seattle Seahawks: $2,065,865
  27. New York Giants: $1,800,000
  28. Atlanta Falcons: $926,541
  29. Minnesota Vikings: $400,184
  30. New York Jets: $371,487
  31. Los Angeles Rams: $304,311
  32. Los Angeles Chargers: $113,693

Latest On Redskins’ Offensive Staff

Redskins offensive line coach Bill Callahan has come up as a possibility to fill the vacant O-coordinator positions with both Washington and the Rams, but he’s uninterested in leaving his current role.

Bill Callahan

“It’s not that he’s dismissive of an opportunity to, at some point in time, become a coordinator,” agent Bob LaMonte told Liz Clarke of the Washington Post. “But at this time, he’s not interested because he’s enjoying the players he works with and enjoying working for Jay (Gruden).”

Callahan, 60, has already been a coordinator with the Raiders (1998-2001) and the Cowboys (2012-14). After leaving Dallas, he took over the Redskins’ offensive line and is now coming off a season in which the unit allow the fourth-fewest sacks in the NFL (23) and sent two players – left tackle Trent Williams and right guard Brandon Scherff – to the Pro Bowl. Callahan’s line also finished the season as Football Outsiders’ sixth-ranked front five and Pro Football Focus’ seventh-best group.

With Callahan not open to taking the place of ex-Redskins O-coordinator and now-Rams head coach Sean McVay, it’s now even likelier than before that quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh will become Gruden’s top offensive assistant, according to Clarke. Tight ends coach Wes Phillips is also in the mix, but he could join his father, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, on McVay’s staff in Los Angeles.

Cavanaugh has been in charge of the Redskins’ signal-callers since 2015, Kirk Cousins‘ breakout year. He was formerly a coordinator with the Bears, Ravens and Panthers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texans To Promote Mike Vrabel To DC

The Texans are promoting linebackers coach Mike Vrabel to defensive coordinator, reports Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com (Twitter link). Predecessor Romeo Crennel will stay on the Texans’ staff and become their assistant head coach.

Mike Vrabel

This is seemingly a boon for Houston, which potentially could have dealt with the departures of both Vrabel and Crennel this offseason. Vrabel drew head coaching interest from the Rams, who instead hired Sean McVay, and both the Chargers and Redskins were eyeing him for their D-coordinator vacancies, according to Breer (Twitter link).

Meanwhile, the soon-to-be 70-year-old Crennel was on an expiring contract prior to Wednesday. Head coach Bill O’Brien made it clear earlier this week that the team didn’t want to lose Crennel.

“Romeo’s done a great job,” O’Brien said Monday. “I know we’d love to have him back. I haven’t sat down with any coaches yet, but I can tell you Romeo’s a great coach. He means a lot to me personally, and we’d love to have Romeo back.”

Crennel had served as the Texans’ defensive coordinator since 2014, and the unit ranked between sixth and eighth in DVOA in each season under his stewardship. Houston also led the NFL in yardage allowed in 2016, which was especially impressive given that superstar end J.J. Watt only played in three games and went on injured reserve in late September. The Crennel-led, Watt-less Texans had other stars emerge, including end Jadeveon Clowney and cornerback A.J. Bouye, while linebacker Whitney Mercilus‘ standout play continued.

Mercilus has worked directly with Vrabel, who was a terrific NFL linebacker in his own right from 1997-2010. Vrabel played under Crennel in both New England and Kansas City during that time, and he then joined him on Houston’s coaching staff in 2014. The two will remain together in 2017, though it’ll be Vrabel manning Crennel’s longtime position. Crennel has been a D-coordinator with four different teams since 2000.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2017 Proven Performance Escalators

According to the NFL’s contractual bargaining agreement, players drafted in rounds three though seven are entitled to raises during the fourth year of their respective rookie contracts. The pay bumps are tied to playing time — a player must have played in 35% of his team’s offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons, or averaged 35% playing time cumulatively during that period.Donte Moncrief (Vertical)

If one of these thresholds is met, the player’s salary is elevated to the level of that year’s lowest restricted free agent tender — that figure should be around $1.8MM in 2017. Players selected in the first or second round, undrafted free agents, and kickers/punters are ineligible for the proven performance escalator.

Here are the players who will see their salary rise in 2017 courtesy of the proven performance escalator:

49ers: Aaron Lynch, LB; Marcus Martin, OL

Bears: Charles Leno, T; Will Sutton, DT

Bengals: Russell Bodine, C

Bills: Preston Brown, LB; Seantrel Henderson, T

Broncos: Michael Schofield, OL

Browns: Christian Kirksey, LB

Buccaneers: Kevin Pamphile, G

Cardinals: John Brown, WR

Chiefs: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, G; Zach Fulton, G; Phillip Gaines, CB

Colts: Donte Moncrief, WR

Cowboys: Anthony Hitchens, LB

Falcons: Devonta Freeman, RB

Giants: Devon Kennard, LB

Jaguars: Aaron Colvin, CB; Brandon Linder, G; Telvin Smith, LB

Lions: Nevin Lawson, CB; Travis Swanson, C

Packers: Corey Linsley, C; Richard Rodgers, TE

Panthers: Tre Boston, S; Trai Turner, G

Raiders: T.J. Carrie, CB; Justin Ellis, DT; Gabe Jackson, G

Rams: Maurice Alexander, S; E.J. Gaines, CB

Redskins: Bashaud Breeland, CB; Spencer Long, G; Morgan Moses, T

Texans: C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE; Andre Hal, S

Titans: DaQuan Jones, DL; Avery Williamson, LB

Vikings: Shamar Stephen, DT

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Reserve/Futures Contracts: 1/16/17

Here are the latest reserve/futures contract signings from around the NFL. These deals will go into effect on the first day of the 2017 league year, with players joining their respective clubs’ offseason 90-man rosters.

Dallas Cowboys

Houston Texans

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Redskins