With news breaking that the Washington Football Team is reacquiring 2019 starting left guard Ereck Flowers from Miami, attention is now turning to whether Washington will pursue a trade involving All-Pro right guard Brandon Scherff.
To recap, Flowers had been a failed top-10 draft pick for the New York Giants in 2015. He had the size and athleticism of an elite tackle, but he never lived up to expectations in New York. After a brief, undistinguished year at tackle in Jacksonville, Flowers revived his career in Washington by shifting inside to guard.
Flowers played well enough in 2019 to earn a three-year, $30 million contract from Miami. His performance for the Dolphins in 2020 was consistent. According to Pro Football Focus, he rated a little above average – almost identical numbers to what he put up for the Washington Football Team in 2019.
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As you might expect from a former tackle, he performs better as a pass blocker than as a run blocker, but he has the size and strength to be effective in all areas.
Miami’s coach Brian Flores has already moved on from at least one other 2020 free agent (Kyle Van Noy) and the Dolphins seem intent on continuing to shed salary and go young. So the fact that they would give away Flowers after one season for what amounts to a swap of late-round draft picks shouldn’t seem too surprising.
Now, with Flowers on board, Washington has a bit more flexibility in how to handle Scherff.
Why the Washington Football Team should consider trading Brandon Scherff
Trading Scherff has to at least be an option for the Washington Football Team. Scherff is playing on his second consecutive franchise tag, and therefore is a very high-priced player.
Two other potential 2021 free agents were also franchised by their teams for a second consecutive year this spring, but Scherff is the only one of the three who did not rather quickly sign a long-term extension. Denver locked up safety Justin Simmons and the Giants did the same with defensive lineman Leonard Williams.
The fact that Washington was not able to negotiate a similar deal with Scherff is a pretty clear indication that the player intends to test the free-agent market in 2022.
So the question is, should Washington be content to have Scherff’s services for one more season and then take a compensatory draft pick upon his likely departure next year? Or should they actively seek a trade immediately?
The market for Scherff should be quite good. All-Pro linemen are not available every day of the week, and they are almost never available in their prime. Interestingly enough, the last team to trade one was the Carolina Panthers, before the 2020 season, when Marty Hurney was calling the shots.
They traded Trai Turner to the Chargers for Russell Okung. The trade was seen as odd by a lot of Panther fans since they were essentially giving up a guard in his prime for a tackle approaching the end of his career. But apparently, Hurney knew something because the Chargers were ready to move on from Turner after one season, while Okung played at a decent level for Carolina in 2020.
If a similar trade is being considered by the Washington Football Team involving Scherff, Kansas City’s recent acquisition of Baltimore Raven tackle Orlando Brown should be very encouraging. Kansas City paid a lot for a quality tackle in his prime. Baltimore essentially netted two extra draft picks in the 2021 draft, including a late first-rounder.
Scherff and Brown should have relatively similar values, so Washington could reasonably expect to flip their current second-round pick into a late first-rounder and pick up additional picks in the third and fourth rounds this year. Of course, the details would be different, and they would need a trade partner who, like Kansas City, had a need at the position.
Here’s a thought. How about that team right up 95 who just got a bunch of draft picks from KC? Baltimore has been trying to replace all-everything guard Marshall Yanda for the past year. They are hoping recent free-agent acquisition Kevin Zeitler can fill that void, but Scherff is better. Besides, last I checked, you need two guards. Scherff, Zeitler, and the returning Ronnie Stanley would form the basis for one of the best lines in the NFL.
Anyway, just a thought. If Baltimore doesn’t want to bite, there will be others who might.
From Washington’s perspective, a lot of this comes down to how you see the 2021 season. Losing Scherff would hurt. None of the other guards on the team are even close to his level. But with Flowers joining Wes Schweitzer, second-year players Keith Ismael and Saahdiq Charles, along with recent pick-ups Tyler Larsen and Beau Benzschawel, the cupboard is far from bare.
And with the extra draft capital, you can be sure Washington would select at least one interior lineman in the 2021 draft, which boasts good depth along the line.
A small step backward for a potential nice jump forward in 2022 and beyond? The price would have to be right, but the Washington Football Team must surely be considering it.