One of the key storylines surrounding the Washington Football Team this offseason was the fate of stalwart right guard Brandon Scherff.
The Washington Football Team originally selected Brandon Scherff as a tackle out of Iowa. He was selected with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Back then, Jay Gruden was still waiting for his first and only division championship, and Kirk Cousins, who was still on his rookie contract, hadn’t yet earned the starting quarterback job.
A lot changes over half a decade. But one thing has remained the same through all that time. Since moving inside to right guard, Brandon Scherff has been a steady constant for the Washington Football Team.
Since taking over the starting right guard job in 2015, Scherff has started all 78 games he’s played in. He made his first Pro Bowl in his second season, and since then, he’s made the Pro Bowl three additional times. He also became Washington’s first All-Pro since Matt Turk in 1996.
Simply put, Scherff has been a very valuable player for Washington. Of course, that success also comes with the question of how to reward it. Scherff was set to be a free agent this offseason, and although the Washington Football Team has over $50 million in cap space, the decision surrounding Scherff carried a lot of weight.
Having said that, with free agency approaching, it appears as though Washington has chosen a course of action regarding Scherff. According to local D.C. reporter J.P. Finlay, the Washington Football Team has placed the franchise tag on the veteran offensive guard. The team itself later confirmed the news.
This marks the second consecutive season that Scherff has been given the franchise tag by Washington. This year, the franchise tag will amount to almost $18 million in fully guaranteed money. It’s a steep price, but for a prospective newcomer at quarterback, one could argue it’s worth keeping the blocking unit intact.
The Athletic’s Ben Standig corroborated Finlay’s report and noted that Washington attempted to get a long-term deal done with Scherff. Completing a long-term deal would have allowed Washington to space out Scherff’s cap allowances a bit. However, no agreement was met, and instead, Scherff will play on the tag, and be set for free agency in 2022 unless a deal can be reached before the deadline in July.
On one hand, the tag ensures that Scherff will suit up in Washington in 2021, barring a tag and trade. But on the other hand, it makes the matter of securing a long-term deal more complicated. Scherff is already 29 years old, and a long-term deal would carry him well into his 30’s. Offensive linemen tend to have longer primes than other positions, but the uncertainty ultimately increases with age.
There’s also the issue of tying up too much money at guard, a position that, while important, is ultimately deemed slightly more flexible. Because Scherff will earn around $16.5 million annually for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, that may be his floor from an annual value standpoint. Is there ultimately a breaking point that the Washington Football Team refuses to pass in its negotiations with Scherff? We may get our answer in the coming months. For now, however, Scherff is tagged for 2021.