Examining if the Redskins should trade or keep Ryan Anderson
The case for trading Anderson
Any decision to move Anderson would likely boil down to a few points. First and foremost, Anderson is in the final year of his contract. The former second-round pick is set to hit free agency in 2021 and the Redskins may have a tough time justifying keeping him.
Anderson is at his best when serving as an edge-setting linebacker and a physicality-based pass rusher. Those types of players certainly have value, but where would that value rank in terms of other members of the Redskins pass rush? Anderson doesn’t figure to be ahead of the likes of Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, or Montez Sweat, and all three of those former first-round picks will be due big-money extensions at some point in the near future. Allen’s extension is approaching first, but the ‘Skins need to make sure they plan accordingly and leave room for other future deals.
And it’s also worth noting that the Redskins have money tied up in Matt Ioannidis, another member of the pass-rushing unit. He’s making just $7.25 million a year — a bargain considering his production — but the Redskins will still need to avoid overspending on the defensive front and give themselves more of a chance to address other holes on the team (cornerback, safety, linebacker, offensive tackle, etc.). That’s why paying Anderson along with the team’s other pass rushers may not make much sense.
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Now, some will argue that Anderson falls more into the linebacker category this year. And that well could be the case, as he may be asked to play the SAM position in the Redskins’ new 4-3 defense. But that brings me to my next point.
Anderson simply isn’t an ideal fit for this defensive scheme. He fits the prototypical mold of a rush linebacker in the 3-4 defense. He’s at his best playing close to the line and while he may be asked to drop into coverage on occasion, his primary responsibilities are to attack the edge against the run and try to produce sacks in passing scenarios.
In the 4-3 defense, Anderson is more of a positional tweener. His skill set most closely matches that of an edge rusher, but his 6-2, 255-pound frame is linebacker-sized. That’s why he figures to play the SAM role in 2020 — if he can win a role among the linebackers. The SAM’s responsibilities are to play closer to the line and make downhill plays against the run and serve as an extra pass rusher on occasion, so he could find success in that area. But given his below-average athleticism, it may be hard for him to play in space and in coverage as much as that position has to. So, guys like Cole Holcomb, Shaun Dion Hamilton, or even veterans like Thomas Davis and Kevin Pierre-Louis could see more snaps than him.
Anderson could surprise and be better at that position than expected. Or maybe he’ll find a role as a rotational pass rusher on the defensive line despite his smaller stature. But either way, there’s no guarantee that he’ll be on the field a lot. So, if the team can add a future asset to the fold in a rebuilding year while giving up a player on an expiring contract, that may be worth it.
The Redskins would have to balance what Anderson would be worth. But if they were offered a mid-Day 3 pick for Anderson, they may at least consider taking it if Anderson projects only to be a backup. Maybe a playoff team like the Baltimore Ravens, who love Alabama players, or the Tennessee Titans, who lost Cameron Wake and Jurrell Casey this offseason, would be willing to try Anderson in a bigger role and sacrifice a pick like that.
So, that’s why the ‘Skins may want to move Anderson. But there are also a number of reasons that the squad may want to keep him around.