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Do the Redskins have any candidates for early contract extensions?

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Do the Redskins have any candidates for early contract extensions?

The Eagles have been quite busy the last few days signing players to new contracts. Two of those players, left tackle Jason Peters and center Jason Kelce, were not set to be free agents until next year. This is the way the Eagles and some other teams, notably the 49ers, have operated for a number of years. By locking up their best players in advance of their free agent years, those teams are able to map out their cap strategies and personnel needs years in advance.

Can the Redskins pursue the same strategy? Could they take some of their roughly $30 million in salary cap room and make an investment in 2015 and beyond?

The short answer is yes but the longer answer is that they don’t have very many candidates for a long-term extension right now.

Before you jump in with the names of Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris, neither one of those players is eligible for an extension. Part of the 2011 CBA agreement that brought sanity to the rookie compensation system prohibits any player from renegotiating his deal before finishing three years in the league. So the quarterback and running back have to go on the back burner until after this season.

The players who remain on the roster from the draft class of 2011 are eligible for new contracts as they enter the last year of their rookie deals. The problem there is that there are few who the Redskins would want to lock up at this point. We’ll look at Ryan Kerrigan in a minute. But the second- and third-round picks from that year, Jarvis Jenkins and Leonard Hankerson, have both lost substantial time to injury and, in Jenkins’ case, suspension. Even at their better moments, neither has played well enough to warrant a new deal.

Perhaps a role player like Roy Helu Jr. might be a target for an extension. But with a new offense coming in this year it would be wise for both parties to wait.

Although Kerrigan would be a prime candidate for an extension, he is a different case from the rest of his draft classmates. Since he is a first-round pick, the Redskins have a 2015 option that they almost certainly will exercise. Kerrigan was taken outside of the top 10 so the option would be worth a salary equal to the averages of the top 25 players at his position with the top three excluded. That number is hard to nail down in advance but as of now it look like it will come to around $4 million for the season. After that he would be a free agent.

Since Kerrigan essentially has two years left on his contract due to the option, the Redskins can wait another year and still work something out with Kerrigan prior to the free agency deadline pressure. There is incentive for Kerrigan to wait as well,

Another player who could wait a year is Trent Williams. He has two years left on his rookie contract from 2010 with a cap hit of about $10 million this year and $14 million in 2015. Like with Kerrigan, this one should probably wait a year.

We will have to wait another year, then, to see if the Redskins want to get into the business of locking up their younger, key players in advance of them becoming free agents. With Morris, Kerrigan, and Williams all set to become free agents in 2016 and Griffin going into his option year then, next spring would be a good time to start.

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Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 11, eight days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Redskins vs. Eagles 1 p.m.

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 8; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 13; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 21

Injuries of note:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Lanier (leg)
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Final injury report

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Eagles

—The Redskins have not stopped a team in a goal to go situation since September. The Eagles are good in such situations, converting TDs 84 percent of the time. If the Redskins can get a stop and force a field goal try when the first time the Eagles get down there that would be a big psychological boost for the visitors. Or, better yet, maybe they can just not let the Eagles get any first and goal opportunities. That’s what happened when the teams played in Week 6.

—In that Week 6 meeting the Redskins rushed for 230 yards, their best performance on the ground this season by 79 yards. Matt Jones picked up 135 yards on 16 attempts, Rob Kelley had 5-59, and Chris Thompson kicked in with 9-37. It’s unlikely that Jones will be active so it will be up to Kelley to get things rolling on the ground.

—For all the talk about Kirk Cousins having the Eagles’ number, he had one of his worst statistical games of the year against them in Week 6. He completed just 52.9 percent of his passes, his lowest completion percentage of the season. Cousins also threw perhaps his worst interception of the year, a pick six that tied the game at 14 in the second quarter. The bottom line was that he made some plays and the Redskins won but he likely will have to play better this time for his team to prevail today.

—Carson Wentz has six interceptions in his last three games, including three last week against the Bengals. Josh Norman is due to get an interception, overdue, in fact. Don’t know what will happen but the chances seem good that a Redskin will get his hands on a Wentz pass today.

—We saw last week that the Redskins are not a lock to go on the road and win against a team that is desperately fighting for its playoff life. Fortunately for the Redskins, the Eagles do not have players who are the equals of David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Patrick Peterson. While plenty can go wrong I think the Redskins come away with with the win.

Redskins 28, Eagles 24

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Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

The Redskins officially brought Kory Lichtensteiger back to the active roster, and while the move is now for depth, it could have other ramifications down the road. 

The move is on the NFL's transaction report for Saturday. To make room for Lichtensteiger, the team released defensive lineman A.J. Francis. 

Dealing with injuries up and down the line of scrimmage, Lichtensteiger's return could give the offensive front more flexibility. When Lichtensteiger got injured Week 3 and sent to the injured reserve, third-year pro Spencer Long stepped in and performed well at center. Last week in Arizona, Long sustained a concussion.

That injury opened the door for John Sullivan, who will start this week in Philadelphia with Long ruled out. Sullivan was brought in as a backup to Long once Lichtensteiger was put on IR. With Long now in the NFL concussion protocol, the Redskins need another center should Sullivan get hurt. Alas, Lichtensteiger's return from the IR. 

Left guard Shawn Lauvao also sustained an injured groin, and that's where things could get interesting. Long is capable of playing guard, as is Lichtensteiger in a pinch. Should Lauvao's injury persist, Lichtensteiger might be able to help there.

Against the Eagles, the plan certainly appears to be second-year man Arie Kouandjio starting in place of Lauvao. Kouandjio made one earlier start this season - Week 4 against Cleveland - and the results were mixed.

If Kouandjio stumbles and Lauvao needs more time, Lichtensteiger's return to the roster gives Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan more flexibility, especially when Long returns from injury.

In fact, once the team has Long, Lichtensteiger and Sullivan healthy, there could be a bit of a logjam roster-wise on the offensive line, but considering all the injuries, bumps and bruises that are part of O-line life by the last four games of the season, the Redskins staff likely won't mind figuring that out. 

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