Redskins: Zach Brown may be missed, but injuries can’t be predicted
The Washington Redskins made the decision to cut Zach Brown earlier in the offseason. The move may look bad now, but nobody could have predicted the Reuben Foster injury.
Just ahead of the official start of free agency, the Washington Redskins made the decision to release linebacker Zach Brown. He had signed a three-year deal with the team the previous offseason and seemed solidified as their long-term starter at the linebacker position.
However, while Brown played well at times during his tenure, particularly against the run, but had a tendency to freelance at times in coverage. He had the athletic capabilities needed to be solid in that area, but that didn’t materialize last season.
Late in the year, Brown was moved out of the starting lineup in favor of rookie Shaun Dion Hamilton. At the time, Brown said that he saw the “writing on the wall” and it became clearer that he likely wouldn’t return for the 2019 season. The move made sense from a personnel standpoint, given that Brown wasn’t happy with his reduced role, and from a cap standpoint as well.
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As I pointed out in a piece from an earlier in the offseason, it simply would have been tough for the Redskins to justify paying Brown an $8.75 million cap figure, especially if he was going to be the backup.
"Brown was set to count for $8.75 million against the cap in 2019. Considering that Brown had regressed in coverage, it was more palatable for the ‘Skins to take a dead cap hit of $3 million and open up the other $5.75 million in cap space for other potential signings. Given that the team was strapped for cap space, this makes sense. However, it will hurt the team’s depth and if they don’t add another player in free agency, this move could be viewed as questionable."
Of course, the latter part of the statement has come to fruition, as Reuben Foster has now suffered an injury. While that’s bad news for the team’s depth, it simply couldn’t have been predicted.
A case could also be made that the ‘Skins undervalued Brown. After all, Pro Football Focus had him ranked as the league’s No. 3 overall linebacker. He wasn’t as good in coverage as PFF’s ranking, in this analyst’s opinion, but he certainly was a fine starter. With Hamilton on the rise, Foster returning, and young depth in Josh Harvey-Clemons, moving on from Brown seemed sensible
Still, the idea of having Brown as insurance to Foster and Hamilton is nice. But hindsight is 20/20 and Brown wouldn’t have been happy at all as a backup.
In short, Brown could have helped after injury, but the point is moot. He is gone and inked a one-year deal with the Eagles. It’s unfortunate, but nobody could have seen the freak injury to Foster coming, especially not on the third snap of OTAs. Now, the team will move forward with youth at the position. Hopefully, Hamilton will be able to step up with Harvey-Clemons playing in passing situations and Mason Foster helping against the run.