While perusing an NFL.com article on stadium construction I ran across a table that listed NFL stadiums by their age and I was mildly surprised to see that that FedEx Field, which opened in 1997, is moving into the group of the older stadiums in the NFL.As of right now 13 stadiums, ranging from Lambeau Field in Green Bay (opened in 1957) to Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte (1996) are older than FedEx Field. But that will change in a few years when the 49ers move out of Candlestick Park (1960) to their new digs in Santa Clara and the Vikings abandon the Metrodome (1982) for their new downtown stadium.And sometime in the next several years a team, perhaps the Chargers (Qualcomm Stadium 1967) or Bills (Ralph Wilson Stadium 1973), is likely to bolt for a sparkling new stadium in Los Angeles. There is a lot of buzz that Atlanta will replace the Georgia Dome (1992) well before the decade is out.If those moves are indeed made the place the Redskins have called home for just 15 seasons will fall into the group of the 10 oldest stadiums in the NFL.That brings up the question of if a new stadium is in the Redskins future. The answer is yes, but it is likely that a new home is more in the distant future than something that is right around the corner.Some have talked of a big stadium with a retractable roof, a facility that could attract big events like a college basketball Final Four, college conference championship games, and big-time concerts in addition to providing a home for the Redskins for 10 games per year. There has been talk that the team should move back to D. C. but there is no serious proposal for doing so on the table.But a new home for the Redskins may be a pipe dream. It will be a challenge to get any sort of modern stadium built at all. The price tags for the two newest NFL stadiums, MetLife in New Jersey and Jerry Jones palace in Dallas, were 1.6 billion and 1.15 billion, respectively. Cowboys Stadium has a roof while the stadium in the Meadowlands does not.In comparison, FedEx Field cost about 250 million to build. By the early 2000s, the cost of building an NFL stadium had gone up into the 300 million range. A decade later, there was the massive jump to the price tags we saw for the stadiums in Texas and New Jersey. The Santa Clara stadium is slated to run 1.2 billion and the Vikings building will cost something in that neighborhood.Given that rate of inflation in construction is not hard to see the cost of a new stadium approaching 2 billion towards the end of the decade, which is the earliest the Redskins could realistically expect to put a shovel into the ground for a new building. Coming up with that kind of money would be extremely challenging.The days of taxpayer-funded NFL stadiums are long gone. Team ownership is expected to provide at least half of the cost of a new stadium. With the Redskins among the most profitable teams in all of sports the expected owners contribution could go higher. It would be extremely difficult for Dan Snyder to economically justify stroking a check for a billion dollars or more for new digs, even if he could. It would take a very long time to make enough additional profit to cover that mount.Even if Snyder could kick in his share its hard to see any of the government entities making such a financial commitment. Virginia governor Bob McDonnells staff was grilled for the state giving the Redskins a grant of 4 million towards the renovation of Redskins Park. Unless the political distaste for being accused of subsidizing billionaires changes anytime soon it is hard to see anything approaching what the governments tab would be for a new Redskins stadium getting approval.FedEx Field has undergone various additions, improvements, and renovations since it opened. The latest, the installation of standing area where some of the less-desirable end zone seats used to be, is just being finished for the upcoming season. It is likely that the stadium will undergo several more rounds of repairs and upgrades before a new building is seriously considered.Chances are that FedEx Field will be much older than the 10th oldest stadium before it is replaced. If the current atmosphere persists, FedEx will be approaching its 30th birthday before a new stadium is in the offing.
It seems likely the Redskins stand to lose one or both of receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon in free agency. That could mean more than 2,000 yards receiving exiting the offense, a significant blow.
Could Bears wideout Alshon Jeffery come to Washington and cushion the blow?
Multiple reports say that Chicago will not put the franchise tag on Jeffery, which means the 6-foot-4 receiver will hit the open market when free agency opens in a little more than a week. Coming off consectuive injury-marred seasons, still expect the market to be ripe for the former South Carolina star.
A five-year veteran that will turn 28 in August, Jeffery posted more than 2,500 receiving yards in the 2013 and 2014 seasons to go with 17 touchdowns. An extremely gifted red zone receiver, Jeffery is one of the best in the league at high-pointing the football and coming down with circus catches. His last two seasons, however, the Bears wideout only played in 21 of 32 games and his numbers dipped dramatically: just over 1,600 yards and six TDs combined.
Though Washington will likely lose at least one of Garçon or Jackson, and very possibly both, that does not necessarily make Jeffery a prime target.
Expect cost to be a major factor as the Chicago receiver will likely command the top free agent payout at the position. And his recent injury history could be a factor as well.
Further, the Redskins must believe they have a No. 1 receiver already in house in Josh Doctson. The No. 22 overall pick in 2016, Doctson hardly played as a rookie due to an Achilles injury but appears to be progressing well in his rehab. At 6-foot-2 and extremely athletic, Doctson was drafted to be a prime red zone target with the ability to go up and get TDs.
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Many Redskins fans have been keeping a close eye on the Chiefs all offseason. Kansas City has two pending free agents in positions that are of great need to Washington. Fans have been watching since January to see what the Chiefs would do with safety Eric Berry and defensive lineman Dontari Poe. They may have their answer.
The organization’s hope was that they could sign one and use the franchise tag on the other. But with the deadline for the tag two days from now and with free agency starting in 10 days, it appears that plan is not going to happen. They are forced to decide and per Ed Werder of ESPN they are going to tag Berry and let Poe test free agency.
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Poe is a load at 6-3, 348. His impact is hard to measure in numbers; he has just 13 sacks in his five NFL seasons including two in the last two years. The Chiefs first-round pick out of Memphis in the 2012 draft has forced two fumbles and recovered one. But he is exactly what a defense like the Redskins’ 4-3 scheme needs in the middle to eat up double teams and keep blockers off the linebackers. They would go from having had no credible nose tackle in the seven seasons they have been in the 3-4 base defense to having one who at age 26 is of the very best in the league.
The problem with acquiring the best in the business is that you must pay top dollar. The contracts signed by Marcell Dareus of the Bills, a six-year deal with an average annual value of $15.8 million and Fletcher Cox of the Eagles, who signed a six-year extension with an AAV of $17.1, will be used as guidelines for a Poe free agent deal.
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The Redskins possibly could make that work but it would be a stretch. They already have a top-heavy salary structure with their top three players taking up 35 percent of the salary cap. Another cap hit in the $15 million range would put them in a precarious spot.
It seems unlikely that the Redskins will be real players in the Poe sweepstakes but given that he would be a perfect solution to a long-standing problem area it’s worth keeping an eye on the situation.