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Looking ahead to 2016: Six Redskins starters set to be free agents

Oct 29, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

K-Robinson-fumble-recovery-vs-Eagles

The Redskins have already taken care of two significant pieces of their 2016 offseason business. Just before they started training camp they signed linebacker Ryan Kerrigan to a five-year, $57.5 million contract extension. A few weeks later they locked up left tackle Trent Williams with $66 million over six years.

With those two big contracts out of the way the Redskins will be able to get to work on other free agents they want to sign once the season ends with certainty about the cap implications of those big contracts. As we noted yesterday they should have ample cap space to work with so lack of money to spend should not be an object towards them keeping any of their own players they want to keep.

Here is a look at the Redskins’ unrestricted free agents:

Starters

QB Kirk Cousins (age 28 at start of 2016 season, 2015 cap number $778,000)—This could be huge or it could be almost an afterthought, depending on how Cousins plays in the remaining nine games. If his performance is good enough to warrant starter status in 2015, he could get a deal something like Nick Foles’ extension with the Rams. In August, Foles, who was going into the final year of his rookie contract, signed for two years and $24.5 million in new money. $12 million is guaranteed and, in reality, that is the total value of the deal. There is no guaranteed money in the final year of the deal so the Rams could easily cut ties after 2016 with minimal cap pain. Cousins could get something similar if the Redskins want him to be their starter next year.

FB Darrel Young (age 29, $1.5 million)—He has played only 45 snaps on offense this year and although he is also a regular on special teams, you have to think that the organization can find someone younger and cheaper to fill that role. On the other hand, Scot McCloughan is going to keep a few veterans around to set the example for the younger players and Young is perfect for that. I think he’s back on a deal that’s shorter and slightly less lucrative than the one he’s finishing up (that one is 3 years, $3.9 million, $1 million guaranteed).

ILB Keenan Robinson (age 27, $765,000)—Even though he has fallen off from his high level of play he displayed last year, he is still a valuable member of the defense and not a player they want to let get away. Unless he really turns it on the last nine game he should get something in the neighborhood of the three-year, $12 million deal that Perry Riley got in 2014, with a couple of million added on due to cap inflation.

NT Terrance Knighton (age 30, $4.45 million)—This could get sticky. The Redskins are probably willing to give him an average of 4.5 million per year but probably for only a couple of years. Knighton’s camp will point to the deal that Dan Williams got from the Raiders and want more like four years, $25 million. A good solution would be to meet in the middle and go for three years, $17 million.

OLB Junior Galette (age 28, $745,000)—He didn’t start a game, of course, but he would have if not for the torn Achilles he suffered in August. Another “prove-it” deal at minimum salary for him? That’s doubtful. I think they give him a couple of years with a low guarantee that’s loaded with incentives and per-game roster bonuses. Let’s say two years, as low as $1 million per year and as high as $7 million if he stays on the roster for 16 games a year and cashes in on the incentives.

RB Alfred Morris (age 27, $1.6 million)—If I absolutely had to bet I think he plays elsewhere in 2016. The simple fact is that he has more value to a team that is committed to the zone scheme, like perhaps the Falcons. But you never know what will happen in the last nine games and you can’t rule out a re-signing.

Reserves

QB Colt McCoy (age 30) likely will re-sign to back up Cousins or whoever the starter is. I think CB Will Blackmon (age 32), DE Frank Kearse (age 27), TE Anthony McCoy (age 28), and LB Mason Foster (age 27) will be offered minimum-salary type deals to return to compete for jobs as backups. S Trenton Robinson (age 26) is currently a starter due to injury but he should be a backup and special teams performer. But with a safety shortage around the NFL, someone might offer him more money elsewhere. DE Kedric Golston (age 33) is a good locker room leader and capable reserve but the team may want to go the younger and cheaper route. Same with TE Logan Paulsen (age 29), although the shortage of tight ends might prompt the team to make him an offer. Unless Josh LeRibeus (age 27) really turns it on in what remains of his opportunity to start at center, he is likely to leave.

  1. ET - Oct 29, 2015 at 12:51 PM

    I don’t think Scot will let players like Young, Robinson, or Knighton walk. They’re all good players with leadership skills. And all three could arguably be signed at a “discount” compared to their peers.

    • hk2000 - Oct 29, 2015 at 1:21 PM

      I agree. Many teams are in need of good FB and young is one of the best IMO. Knighton is probably the single biggest reason our defense improved from last year, and I think would be even better with the right coach, hopefully Barry is still figuring it out and will get better. I think Robinson is still the most consistent tackler on the defense.

    • brucefan1 - Oct 30, 2015 at 1:18 PM

      Only problem with resigning Pot Roast is that he is past (just) that magic 30-year-old age line that Scot seems to be dedicated to.

      But if careful analysis reveals that Knighton did, and probably can continue to do, the job expected of him (like his self-described taking on double-teams, but not necessarily getting sacks), Scot just may fudge that rule a little — short-term. Who knows?

      • Rich Tandler - Oct 30, 2015 at 3:02 PM

        The line applies more to outside free agents than re-signing own players. Not that Roast has been around forever but they’ll know him pretty well by the time it’s time to make that decision.

  2. bangkokben - Oct 29, 2015 at 2:08 PM

    Knighton is useless in outside runs. He can’t stay in his gap and there is a GIANT hole on the backside as the rest of the D can’t get around him. I wouldn’t be surprised if they let him walk.

    • colmac69 - Oct 29, 2015 at 4:41 PM

      Knighton is there too clog up middle and take on centre/guard double teams not deal with outside runs (that’s on outside backers to set edge…..for some reason our two outside guys are crashing inside on numerous plays vs jets..falcons..bucs……usually setting edge has bn strength of Kerrigan and Murphy)…with this and safeties taking bad angles we getting gashed on run game

      Knighton is first true nt we had for 3-4 defense…lot of his play will go unnoticed to naked eye at first view……I think they will sign him to new deal

      Our 3-4 is lacking true pass rusher (galette could b answer) and a dominant safety (poss free agency or draft )

      • bangkokben - Oct 29, 2015 at 4:49 PM

        I don’t disagree with anything you said except for resigning Knighton. I expect them to look for a younger more long-term solution.

      • sidepull - Oct 30, 2015 at 7:15 AM

        Thank you Colmac. Exactly.

  3. kenlinkins - Oct 29, 2015 at 2:58 PM

    Rich, Would it shock you to see the new GM try and sign Cousins to a new two year deal before the season is over? What kind of deal IYO could the Redskins pull off and be fair to both sides? (and do you think that the Cousins camp feels he has a big pay day coming that would stop can talk of deals before the season ends)

    • Rich Tandler - Oct 29, 2015 at 3:48 PM

      I don’t see why either side would be in a particular hurry to get something done. Redskins will have an exclusive negotiating window of 2+ months after the season ends. Cousins’ camp will want him to build his case (at the risk of a few bad games and/or injury).

      • kenlinkins - Oct 29, 2015 at 9:04 PM

        I forgot about the 2 months of exclusive negotiating. Thanks for reminding me, IMO the new GM does have a plan moving forward and my guess is that he will use his high draft picks on DB’s in 2016 as the Redskins seem to get very thin there the past few years. What he plans at the QB position is any ones guess right now but my money would be on resigning Cousins and with a mid round 3-4-5 on a QB he thinks can develop / act as a back up in 2016 (the kid from Stanford and North Dakota come to mind). Robinson, Galette and Knighton’s price will be the key to keep this defense’s front seven together and adding some pass rush. (but it would not shock me to see a NT drafted early).

  4. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Oct 29, 2015 at 3:36 PM

    I guess you’re right about Darrel Young. I think our coach could use him better, but he doesn’t.

    So that’s what it is.
    ~

    • goback2rfk - Oct 29, 2015 at 4:55 PM

      I like Young a lot, he is worth keeping. Kennan Robinson is a no brainer.
      Gallete needs another chance to prove himself when he is not injured.
      Knighton is cool pay the man.
      Alfred Morris – At this point it is hard to say but I am leaning towards no extension. I like Morris a lot but maybe the Skins can do better. I dunno.

    • sidepull - Oct 30, 2015 at 7:16 AM

      DY is an under utilized weapon. Sad really.

  5. goback2rfk - Oct 29, 2015 at 4:58 PM

    We need some help at Safety really bad. I wonder if we can draft a Safety first next year? We have not had solid safety play in a very very long time. In fact Brandon “the hammer” Merriweather is putting together a pretty good year and even though I don’t like him and he is not that good I wish he was still on the team at this point.

  6. goback2rfk - Oct 30, 2015 at 12:08 AM

    Tom Brady looking good again on Thursday night blowing out the Miami Dolphins. More than likely Tommy boy hoists the Lombardy again this year. Hope Jay Gruden has one hell of a game plan for the Skins. Praying for a miracle.

    • sidepull - Oct 30, 2015 at 7:18 AM

      100% agree. Gotta love the Pats. That is a team in every sense of the word. Redskins take notes.

    • JOHNNY B - Oct 30, 2015 at 6:28 PM

      Yup he does and we will see our defense carrying tomahawks so we can scalp them.

  7. greed - Oct 30, 2015 at 8:14 AM

    i watch the pats and think damn this was us in the 80’s early 9o’s well run organization from top to bottom

  8. greed - Oct 30, 2015 at 8:28 AM

    the real question rich is gruden, what type record does he have to post in yr 2 for dan not to pull the plug , if this team and qb flounders down the stretch to a 5-6 win season and last again in a weak nfc east to me clearly his message not getting to team or his method of being an HC is not, injuries are abundant yes but the talent and depth on this team is clearly better than last yr so if the team record is the same or worse or even one game better is that building or just treading in water?

    • Rich Tandler - Oct 30, 2015 at 9:50 AM

      I have stated before that Snyder has never fired a coach after the team’s record improved from one year to the next. So five wins probably makes him safe, six almost certainly does. I don’t see McCloughan itching to get a new coach and change offenses and defenses again. So three more wins brings Gruden back.

  9. smotion55 - Oct 30, 2015 at 9:53 AM

    I would keep Cousins, Galette Keenan Robinson, Trenton Robinson, and McCoy, I would not sign Knighton back unless he loses at least 30 LBs and have it in his contract,. He has been relatively a non factor and Golston is too old. Young and Morris do not fit this system and are not going to be playing by years end most likely.This GM has had a whole year to evaluate and by the time we draft this team will look alot different again next year. I am looking forward to next years draft just because we have not had a GM in 20 years. Moving in the right direction finally

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