Brandon Scherff

Redskins’ Brandon Scherff Signs Franchise Tender

Brandon Scherff is officially headed back to Washington. The standout guard has signed his franchise tender to remain with the Redskins, a source told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

As Schefter notes, him signing this early will require him to be at training camp, provided it proceeds as scheduled in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Scherff became the first guard to get franchise-tagged since all the way back in 2011. He’s set to make $14.8MM in 2020 under the tag. The tag system groups all offensive linemen together, which explains why it’s so rarely used on a guard. Scherff has certainly proved himself worthy of being the exception, making the Pro Bowl in three of the past four seasons.

The only time he didn’t make it in that span was in 2018, when he appeared in only eight games due to a torn pec. He was again banged up last year, missing five games with elbow and shoulder issues. The fifth-overall pick in the 2015 draft, Scherff is one of the few consistent players on Washington’s offense.

Given the continued uncertainty surrounding left tackle Trent Williams, it makes sense why the Redskins would want to take no chances with their other stud offensive lineman. The two sides still have until July to work out a long-term extension.

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Redskins To Franchise G Brandon Scherff

Two days before the twice-moved tag deadline, the Redskins will not take any chances with Brandon Scherff. As a result, the NFL will have its first franchise-tagged guard since 2011. This year’s O-line tag comes in at $14.8MM.

The Redskins will use their top tag on Scherff, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). This was the expectation, but it still marks a notable change of sorts for the guard position. This will take a three-time Pro Bowler off the market. Scherff joins Matt Judon, Yannick Ngakoue, Hunter Henry and Justin Simmons among this year’s franchise-tagged contingent.

Washington will use the exclusive franchise tag on Scherff, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). This is in dispute, however, with Rapoport and NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero indicating it’s the non-exclusive tag (Twitter links). The latter scenario would make more sense, given the implausibility of a team trading two first-round picks for a guard.

While Scherff has battled injuries in recent years, he would have been a strong candidate to become the NFL’s highest-paid guard had the Redskins let him hit the market. The sides’ negotiations did not produce a deal. They will have until July 15 to finalize an extension, or Scherff will play on the tag.

No team has franchised a guard since the Patriots kept Logan Mankins off the market nine years ago. The tag system groups all offensive linemen together. A guard tag being worth the same as a tackle tag has undoubtedly influenced teams’ thinking in recent years, thus allowing several high-end guards to hit free agency.

Washington drafted Scherff at No. 5 overall and immediately moved the Iowa tackle to guard. Scherff, 28, has started all 65 games in which he’s played. He only missed two games from 2015-17 but has been absent for 13 over the past two years. Shoulder and elbow injuries shut Scherff down in 2019; a torn pectoral muscle ended his 2018 season. When on the field, however, Scherff has been one of the NFL’s best offensive linemen.

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Redskins Plan To Franchise Brandon Scherff

No team has used a franchise tag on a guard since 2011. The 2020 Redskins appear ready to take this rarely traversed route. They intend to tag Brandon Scherff, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com tweets.

A weekend report pointed to the Redskins being ready to deploy their tag for this purpose, with the Ron Rivera regime ready to do whatever it takes to retain the Pro Bowl blocker. The Redskins drafted Scherff in the 2015 first round and watched the former Iowa tackle make three Pro Bowls as a guard.

Washington has $61MM-plus in cap space, so a tag would not be burdensome. However, all offensive linemen are grouped together under the tag format. Scherff would receive an approximate $15MM salary under the tag. Logan Mankins was the last guard tagged, and the Patriots extended him later that summer.

Faced with the prospect of losing both Scherff and Trent Williams, the Redskins have put the prospect of keeping both into play. While Williams wants a raise or a trade, Rivera has reopened communication lines damaged by since-fired team president Bruce Allen. The Redskins resumed contract talks with Scherff, one of Allen’s best draft picks, after months without dialogue.

The No. 5 overall pick five years ago, Scherff has become one of the NFL’s top guards. He graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 10 guard in 2019, before going down with a season-ending injury in December. Scherff has dealt with injury issues recently, missing 13 games between the 2018-19 seasons. But he made the 2016, ’17 and ’19 Pro Bowl rosters, and with Joe Thuney being linked to a guard-record deal, Washington’s 28-year-old standout blocker would be in line for a monster deal if allowed to hit the open market.

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Redskins, Brandon Scherff In Contract Talks

Left tackle Trent Williams‘ future with the Redskins is still uncertain, but Washington seems prepared to do whatever it takes to keeps its other top-tier offensive lineman in the fold. Head coach Ron Rivera told JP Finlay of NBC Sports Washington that the team has opened contract talks with guard Brandon Scherff (Twitter link). Scherff is eligible to hit the free agent market in March.

Scherff and the Redskins were engaged in contract talks last February as well, but they did not get very far. Indeed, Finlay reported in September that the team was likely to let the Iowa product test free agency, but Washington now has a new power structure in place. And that structure does not want Scherff to sign elsewhere.

Per Finlay, the Redskins seem prepared to use the franchise tag on Scherff if they cannot work out a long-term deal before the tag window closes on March 12. The 2020 franchise tag value for guards checks in at just over $16MM.

That figure will surely be the starting point in negotiations. The Eagles’ Brandon Brooks currently enjoys the highest average annual value among the league’s guards ($14.08MM), and the Cowboys’ Zack Martin boasts the highest amount of guaranteed money ($40MM). Scherff, though, could top both of those figures.

Though his 2019 campaign was cut short due to injury, Scherff was named to his third Pro Bowl in his five-year career. He graded out as the eighth-best guard in the league last season, per Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics, and he is especially adept at run-blocking. Though Washington’s O-line as a whole was a middling unit in 2019, losing Scherff would be a big blow. Keeping him, however, will take a big investment.

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Redskins Place Brandon Scherff On IR

Brandon Scherff has played the final game of his Redskins rookie contract. The team placed its top offensive lineman on IR Tuesday, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

The fifth-year guard is in line to be one of the top free agents on the 2020 market. Washington has the option of the franchise tag. Teams have not been big on tagging guards this decade, with the Patriots’ 2011 tag for Logan Mankins being the most recent such move. But with the team expected to move on from Trent Williams, it might place a greater emphasis on retaining Scherff. An offensive line franchise tag is expected to cost just more than $15MM.

The Redskins and their Pro Bowl blocker did not progress far in contract talks previously. With the guard market recently spiking past $14MM AAV, via Zack Martin and Brandon Brooks extensions, a two-time Pro Bowler who will be set for an age-28 season will be a threat to eclipse that on the open market. It would likely take a massive commitment to keep Scherff from hitting free agency.

A 2015 top-five pick, Scherff missed time because of elbow and shoulder injuries this season. His 2018 slate came to an end early because of a pectoral injury. He’s started 65 games for the Redskins, making the Pro Bowl in 2017 and ’18.

Washington also placed wideout Trey Quinn and cornerback Jimmy Moreland on IR and signed cornerbacks Kayvon Webster and Coty Sensabaugh.

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NFC East Notes: Maddox, Cowboys, Redskins

Avonte Maddox was released from a Green Bay-area hospital with movement in all of his extremities. The Eagles cornerback was discharged and is back in Philadelphia with his teammates, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). Maddox and safety Andrew Sendejo collided during a scary fourth-quarter sequence Thursday night, requiring the second-year cornerback to be stretchered off the field. Maddox has been diagnosed with a concussion and a neck injury, the Eagles announced. No return timetable has surfaced, but the Eagles regular will undergo additional testing.

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • Previously ruled out for Week 4, Michael Gallup may need a few more weeks to fully recover from the arthroscopic surgery he recently underwent. The Cowboys wide receiver has experienced swelling post-surgery, according to Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (on Twitter). Gallup now appears unlikely to play in Week 5 against the Packers, per Hill. The second-year wideout missed Dallas’ Week 3 game.
  • Xavier Woods has, however, recovered from his injury and will be in uniform Sunday night in New Orleans. One of the Cowboys’ two starting safeties missed Week 3 due to a high ankle sprain. It is not certain Woods will reclaim his starting job immediately, with the third-year defender having not been told if he or spot starter Darian Thompson will trot out with the Cowboys’ first-stringers Sunday, per Todd Archer of ESPN.com.
  • The Redskins will have two key game-time decisions in their offensive lineup Sunday against the Giants. The hamstring injury Terry McLaurin suffered in practice this week has the emerging standout questionable to face the Giants. He joins Brandon Scherff in that regard. The Redskins have ruled out Jordan Reed for a fourth straight game due to a concussion. Jay Gruden, however, does expect Washington’s longtime starting tight end to be back this season.
  • While Golden Tate‘s return will boost the Giants’ receiving corps in Week 5, the team endured another receiver setback this week. Big Blue placed Russell Shepard on IR.

Extra Points: Falcons, Browns, Carson

Some assorted notes as we wrap up this Monday night:

  • The Falcons will audition safeties on Tuesday in the wake of Keanu Neal‘s season-ending injury, head coach Dan Quinn announced. Neal suffered a torn Achilles during Sunday’s loss, and the team turned to Kemal Ishmael for the rest of the game. While Quinn didn’t disclose any names, Eric Berry, George Iloka, and T.J. McDonald are among the top free agents at the position.
  • The 1-2 Browns currently rank 26th in the league with 16.3 points per game, but head coach Freddie Kitchens isn’t ready to hand over play-calling duties. Kitchens made it clear to reporters that he’ll continue to call plays this weekend against the Ravens. “You can write that if you want to, but that’s not even feasible,’’ Kitchens said (via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com). “That’s not being considered. No, it’s not…it’s not going to happen.” As Cabot writes, Kitchens “dismissed the notion that serving the dual roles of head coach and playcaller are too much for him,” and he scoffed at the suggestion that offensive coordinator Todd Monken could handle the duties.
  • JP Finlay of NBC Sports Washington believes that Redskins offensive guard Brandon Scherff is likely heading towards free agency. Finlay writes that the front office never made an enticing offer to the 27-year-old, and despite Scherff’s Pro Bowl pedigree, the organization is wary of paying him more than $13MM per season. On the flip side, Finlay says the organization could always use the franchise tag on the lineman if they want to retain his services.
  • Seahawks running back Chris Carson has three fumbles through three games, but the team will continue to rely on the 25-year-old. Head coach Pete Carroll told Pro Football Talk’s Curtis Crabtree that the team will play the back as he works through his case of the yips. “Because we do believe in him, we’re going to continue to show him that,” Carroll said (via PFT’s Charean Williams). “He’s a terrific football player, and we want to make sure and maintain that level of play from him, so we’ll work at it and work with him on it.” Carson has compiled 159 rushing yards and one touchdown on 45 carries this season.

NFC East Rumors: Redskins, Eagles, Scherff

It was reported in February the Redskins and guard Brandon Scherff were discussing an extension but no news had trickled out since then. Scherff, however, confirmed earlier this week that talks were ongoing, NBC Sports’ JP Finlay writes.

“We’ve been talking, but I’m not really worried about that,” Scherff said. “I’m here for another year, so that’s all I’m worried about right now. Everything will take care of itself.”

Signed through 2019 via his fifth-year option, Scherff is set to make $12.5MM this season, but an extension could very well help lower Washington’s cap number heading into the season. An extension could see Scherff paid like Zack Martin and Andrew Norwell, who recently became the first guards to sign for $13MM-plus per year.

The fifth-overall pick in 2015, Scherff has justified the high-draft slot by earning two Pro Bowls in his first four seasons in the league. Though durable in his first three seasons, playing all but two possible games, the Iowa product suffered a torn pectoral in Week 8 of 2018 and was lost for the season.

Here’s more from around the NFC East:

  • Sticking with the Redskins, safety Montae Nicholson skipped the early sessions of the team’s OTAs, NBC Sports’ Peter Hailey writes. Though he showed up later, the safety’s absence turned some heads and coach Jay Gruden reportedly seemed annoyed by the situation. Nicholson is in a batter for the starting safety spot opposite the newly signed Landon Collins.
  • Though the Eagles added Cody Kessler and rookie Clayton Thorson, Nate Sudfeld is still expected to fill the No. 2 quarterback role, NBC Sports’ Andrew Kulp writes. Early in the offseason, Philadelphia gave Sudfeld a second-round tender as an RFA, which should indicate that the backup gig is his to lose despite the additions.
  • Remaining with the Eagles, it appears Jordan Mailata is ahead of Halapoulivaati Vaitai on the depth chart at tackle, NBC Sports’ Reuben Frank writes. Expected to enter 2019 as the team’s top backup tackle option, Mailata was thrown for a loop when the team took Andre Dillard in the first round. The former rugby player, however, is penciled in as the No. 2 at right tackle and Vaitai, a starter at left tackle in the Super Bowl just over a year ago, is now hoping to carve out a role at guard.

East Rumors: Ansah, Bills, Scherff, Cowboys

The Bills do not appear ready to concede they are losing the Ziggy Ansah race. It is unclear what terms have been exchanged between Ansah and the teams pursuing him, but Brandon Beane does not believe the Seahawks are the favorites to land the defensive end.

We’re still in talks with him and his agent,” Beane said during an interview with 1270 The Fan (via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com, on Twitter). “Everything has been very good. All I’ll say about reports (regarding Seattle is emerging as favorite) is I don’t buy into that garbage, especially when I consider where some of the sourcing comes from.”

While the Seahawks have a more immediate need for edge rushers, the Bills recently declined perpetual trade candidate Shaq Lawson‘s fifth-year option and have Jerry Hughes in a contract year. Ansah visited the Bills in March, but the rehabbing lineman was not expected to sign until at least April. It appears the finish line is near for the soon-to-be 30-year-old sack artist’s decision.

Here is the latest news coming out of the Eastern divisions:

  • A torn pectoral muscle ended Brandon Scherff‘s fourth season, but there do not appear to be any complications in his return. Scherff expects to be ready for Redskins training camp. The fifth-year guard said (via Redskins.com) he was at around 90 percent when the Redskins started their offseason program late last month. In February, we heard Washington and its top guard began discussing an extension. But nothing has emerged on that front since. Scherff is entering his fifth-year option season.
  • Elsewhere in the NFC East, the Cowboys have a host of extension candidates. While Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper have emerged as the clubhouse leaders to be signed first, Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones included Ezekiel Elliott in that conversation. Jones called Elliott “every bit as important,” per Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News (on Twitter). It still looks like Elliott, under contract through 2020, will take a backseat to Cooper and Prescott for the time being. The Cowboys have a history of overworking running backs as their rookie deals wind down, as DeMarco Murray‘s final Dallas season showed, but Jones is saying the right things regarding the team wanting Elliott in the fold long-term.
  • Jones also mentioned Jaylon Smith, La’el Collins and Byron Jones as players the team would like to address. “I feel very good that we’re going to strategically work through getting guys like Dak and Amari and Zeke done. And I think we can still do others,” Jones said (via Machota, on Twitter). Each is going into a contract year, with Collins having already signed two NFL deals despite entering the league at the same time as Cooper and Jones. But it will be difficult for the Cowboys to retain all three members of this section of their extension queue, given how much Prescott, Cooper and Elliott will cost.
  • The Bills reshuffled their scouting department recently. Former Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey, in his fourth year in Buffalo, is now a senior national scout with the Bills. Buffalo also hired A.J. Highsmith and Mike Szabo as area scouts. A.J. Highsmith, a 49ers staffer over the past five years, is the son of Browns executive Alonzo Highsmith. The Bills also announced Asil Mulbah received a promotion, becoming a pro scout, and that R.J. Webb is now on board as a scouting assistant.

Redskins In Talks With Peterson, Scherff

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 TannehillJay 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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