What the Redskins should do with their free agent offensive linemen
RG Brandon Scherff
Of all the players on this list, Scherff is clearly the most talented. But he also will be the most expensive. So, that will make it a bit more difficult for the Redskins to choose exactly what to do with him.
Scherff has continued to be a strong blocker for the Redskins this season, but the star guard has had some issues with penalties. He has recorded nine from the right guard spot and that is among the highest totals of all interior linemen. Perhaps it has just been a down year for him in that regard, but it’s still a concern to note.
Also, it’s worth noting that Scherff has been banged-up at times for Washington. He has played in 10 of 12 games this season and missed half of the 2018 season with a torn pectoral muscle. That torn pec may explain the slight downgrade in his play in 2019, as that injury is tough to recover from. So, perhaps another year removed from the injury he will be in better shape.
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Despite these concerns, Scherff is still an excellent blocker when healthy. He’s a road-grader against the run and holds up well against the pass, too. There’s a reason he was a Pro Bowler in 2016 and 2017, and it’s well within the realm of possibility that he can return to that form. And there’s no doubting that his play has been key to the success for the team’s interior offensive line over the past five years.
The issue is, how much will the Redskins be willing to pay Scherff? It’s common to see players at guard play into their mid-30s and still uphold a solid level of play, so despite the fact that Scherff will turn 28 before the end of the season, his prime could still extend for four or five years (health permitting).
Guards have done well on the free agent market in recent offseasons — Rodger Saffold got a contract that pays $11 million annually last year ahead of his age-31 season — so Scherff seems bound to get a deal worth eight-figures per year. He’ll likely land somewhere between the Kevin Zeitler (five years, $12 million average annual value) and Brandon Brooks (four years, $14.09 million AAV) deals, so that could be a steep price for the team to pay.
If the Redskins are torn on a Scherff decision, they could choose to slap him with the franchise tag for one season. Last season, the O-Line franchise tag was worth $14.07 million, so accepting that for one year would give the team more time to hammer out an extension and work toward a mutually beneficial solution for both sides. Of course, a longer-term deal would give them more cap space in the immediate future, so that remains possible.
Given the lack of progress made on a Scherff deal, it may make sense to slap him with the tag and then negotiate. Or maybe they’ll surprise and let him walk. They did invest a fourth-round pick in Wes Martin, so they may view him as a cheaper alternative.
That said, keeping Scherff seems like the best course of action, so the Redskins should at least consider franchising him for the 2020 season.